NEW YORK — You will never mistake a VCU Rams basketball game. You can’t. It’s impossible.
Ram Nation isn’t a fan base as much as it is a congregation of wild celebration and intimidation.
The band is no ordinary pep band. It’s a rowdy accompaniment of brass, belting out paeans and rallying cries.
“Havoc” isn’t just the term of VCU’s trademark defense, it’s the embodiment of the entire Ram Nation. From the players, to the coaches, the staff, fans and band members. There’s even a havoc tour bus.
On Saturday afternoon the perfect storm of organized chaos, both on and off the court, overwhelmed UMass and their diminutive yet explosive guard Chaz Williams, defeating the Minutemen 71-62 in the Atlantic 10 semifinals at The Barclays Center.
Williams is one of, if not the most explosive guards in the country. But even he, a Brooklyn-native playing in front of his family and friends could not withstand the constant onslaught of pressure, physicality and well, havoc. The Rams forced 24 Minutemen turnovers, with eight players recording at least one steal.
Troy Daniels finished with 20 points and made six 3-pointers. Juvonte Reddic finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
UMass actually got out to an early lead. For the first 10 minutes of the game, the havoc defense didn’t seem to have an effect on UMass as they got up by as many as nine. But as VCU continued to apply maximum pressure, the Minutemen begin to crack. VCU led by one at the half and never trailed in the final 20 minutes.
UMass didn’t want to go away, but VCU made sure the Minutemen didn’t get too close.
Chaz Williams finished with 18 points and four assists, but also five turnovers. He finished the three-game run with 64 points, 17 assists and 7 steals.
The Rams will attempt to inflict havoc on Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 tournament finals. The two teams met once during the regular season, with the Rams falling on the road, 76-62. But Troy Daniels realizes that their performance in St. Louis was not the type of play they expect of themselves and that they are playing at a much higher level.
“When guys go out there on the court and they have VCU across their chest, they feel like they can do anything.”
Havoc is just that. Being able to do anything you want. It’s loud, it’s aggressive, and when it’s working, it’s very difficult to stop.
You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir