Shaka Smart

VCU hands No. 10 Saint Louis second consecutive defeat

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After beating George Washington one week ago to move to 12-0 in Atlantic 10 play, No. 10 Saint Louis looked to be well-positioned to win a second consecutive regular season conference title. However the gap between the Billikens and the rest of the conference has tightened considerably since then, with Jim Crews’ team now dealing with a two-game losing streak after dropping a 67-56 decision at VCU.

The result cuts Saint Louis’ lead to just one game with two left to play, and the issue for the Billikens has been the same in both defeats: turnovers. After turning the ball over 16 times in their 71-64 home loss to Duquesne on Wednesday night, Saint Louis committed 17 against VCU.

With their “havoc” system the Rams are going to force teams to turn the ball over more than they’re accustomed to. In the first meeting between the Billikens and Rams on February 15, Saint Louis finished the game with 14 turnovers. But they still managed to win 64-62. Why? Because they limited VCU’s ability to turn those mistakes into points on the other end, finishing the game even in points off of turnovers (14-14).

In the rematch that wasn’t the case, with the Rams holding a 15-point advantage in that category (23-8). VCU did a better job of defending ball screens, and they also did a far better job against forward Dwayne Evans II. Evans tallied 21 points and ten rebounds in the first meeting, but on Saturday he scored just four points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Defensively it was once again a group effort for VCU, with Mo Alie-Cox coming off the bench to block five shots and Briante Weber (13 points, five rebounds) and Treveon Graham (17 points, eight rebounds) accounting for four and three steals respectively.

VCU is at it’s best when they’re capitalizing off of live-ball turnovers and second-chance opportunities, with both being areas they were able to take advantage of on Saturday. Due to their work defensively and on the boards the Rams were able to control the action despite shooting 39% from the field and 3-for-16 from beyond the arc. And if VCU is to enjoy greater success this month, they’ll need to continue to take advantage of these areas.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
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Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?