Loss of point guard Weber means adjustments for No. 18 VCU
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The 18th-ranked VCU Rams will have to make some adjustments moving forward without injured floor leader and defensive lynchpin Briante Weber — changing the way they play won’t be one of them.
Weber tore the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus in his right knee late in the Rams’ loss to Richmond on Saturday. Surgery which could come in about two weeks after the swelling goes down, coach Shaka Smart said Monday.
“We’ll adjust some things,” Smart said. “I think your personality changes a little bit any time you lose a dominant figure on your team, but at the same time, we’re not going to cancel the season.
“We’re still going to play the way that we play. There may be some adjustments in terms of some of the Xs and Os stuff we do on both ends of the floor, but we’re still going to be us.”
Weber, a senior point guard, was the lead orchestrator of the Rams’ ‘Havoc’ style and has led the nation in steals percentage the last three years. He was leading the nation with 3.9 steals per game this season and was 12 steals away from breaking the NCAA career record of 385 set by John Linehan of Providence in 2002.
The Rams (17-4, 7-1 Atlantic 10) are back in action Wednesday night at George Mason (7-13, 2-6).
VCU absorbed a double dose of disappointment on Saturday, seeing its 12-game winning streak end in a 64-55 loss to crosstown rival Richmond, and then seeing the always energetic Weber writhing in pain on the floor. He was injured with just over three minutes left when he attempted a jump-stop in the lane.
Unable to practice again until Monday, the team has focused on supporting Weber after getting the details of his injury late Saturday. Smart said Weber has pushed them to get back to work.
“He’s been very resilient so far. He’s had a terrific attitude,” Smart said. “The things that he has said to me and to his teammates about our team and about what we need to do have been terrific. I think he is ready to attack any type of rehab and any type of comeback. Bri’s is always a highly energetic guy.”
To replace Weber, the Rams will turn primarily to JeQuan Lewis and freshman Jonathan Williams, but they expect to have Weber on the bench for home and road games before and after his surgery.
“He’s still a big part of our leadership team,” the coach said.
Smart said the hardest part of seeing Weber’s college career end as it did was the idea that, as a senior, he won’t get a chance to do it over as he would as an underclassman. Still, his legacy will not just be as one of the best defenders in program history, but also of a player whose growth as an individual mirrors what coaches hope to see when they recruit a player.
“He’s grown a great deal and I think great evidence of that is just the way he’s responded with his teammates since this injury occurred,” Smart said, noting his refusal to feel sorry for himself.
“He could be caught up in himself and down in the dumps and upset,” Smart said, “but he’s been great.”
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