I say this without a hint of exaggeration or hyperbole: There aren’t ten tougher home court environments in the country than the Siegel Center, the home of VCU and ‘Havoc’.
Ram Nation packs that place to the brim, turning the roughly-7,000 seat building into a sweat box packed with rowdy Richmondians and the best pep band in the country, making it difficult to hear yourself think while trying to deal with handling the ball against a swarming defense that forces more turnovers than anyone.
And on Saturday, No. 7 Virginia went into the Siegel Center and put a beating on the Rams, winning 74-57.
Now, the final score is a bit misleading. VCU got three straight threes from Treveon Graham to make the score 59-55 with just over five minutes left in the game, and at that point — after Virginia had started to feel the effects of playing against that press for a full game, getting sped up and committing live-ball turnovers in bunches — it looked like the Rams were ready to finish off a game-changing run. But Virginia answered, scoring 15 straight points and hitting six straight shots from the floor to put the game away.
It was very, very impressive.
And it was a common theme all afternoon.
VCU’s pressure would bother Virginia in short spurts, but the Cavs’ back court of London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon did an excellent job of getting Virginia into their sets when they did break the press.
I wrote extensively on VCU and Havoc two weeks ago, essentially explaining why I thought the system had a ceiling. In short, it’s because good teams with good guards will not get flustered by the pressure, and that the Rams struggle too much on the defensive end in half court situations. Saturday’s game was a textbook example of that. Virginia committed 16 turnovers, with eight of those coming from Brogdon and Perrantes. They also shot 68.4% from the floor, 6-for-11 from three and routinely got dunks and layups once they broke the press.
I also wrote on Virginia last week, questioning just how good they will be offensively without the presence of Joe Harris on that end of the floor. I still think that may be an issue, but if Brogdon (18 points), Perrantes (nine assists), Justin Anderson (21 points, 3-for-4 from three) and Anthony Gill (18 points, 7-for-9 from the floor) continue to place somewhere close to that level, then my questions will end up looking foolish.