Who Let The Dogs Out?...
No sense in beating around the bush: I’m good with the recent spate of technical fouls VCU players are picking up for woofing. In fact, I love it.
The first thing I want to do is deconstruct the myth that VCU picking up a technical foul fires up the opponent or somehow tamps down VCUs edge. That’s a convenient and logical storyline that’s also bunk.
Last night, after Vince Williams told a Fordham player he just successfully scored a two-point field goal in a colorful and forceful manner, he was assessed a technical foul for his delivery. VCU went on an 8-0 run immediately thereafter and led by 14 at the half.
It was a half in which VCU committed 12 turnovers, many of the vomit variety. It was sloppy. But the team played with a VCU edge that included two woofing technical fouls but also three dunks and six layups, forcing 15 Fordham turnovers.
Ditto in the Rhode Island game. VCU led 16-12 when Levi Stockard exchanged pleasantries with one of the Mitchell twins and was whistled. The lead became 29-19, and then Hason Ward picked up his technical foul. VCU again extended the lead to 41-24 at the half.
In the second half of both games, VCU did not play with the same edge, did not pick up a woofing technical, and both leads measurably shrank in inverse proportion to Mike Rhoades’ likelihood of blowing his stack. For the record, here were no technical fouls in the Dayton game.
Now, I’m not saying VCU should seek technical fouls. It's like eating ice cream. It's great, but you can't eat it by the gallon. Nor am I saying they are always smart. If the game is tied with 2:30 to play you’d better not woof your way to a technical foul.
What I’m saying is the woofing technical fouls are an indicator into how VCU is playing the game. It is a point of emphasis for officials to reduce the barking, so some of the same behavior that was allowed to occur in years past is being rung up. But don’t let that obfuscate the bigger picture: VCU is doing the things it needs to do to win when a bark, and a whistle, occurs.
VCU requires an edge to be effective. Playing with an edge requires emotion. Hence, VCU needs to play with emotion. That emotion needs an outlet. Sometimes the outlet needs to be the guy on the other team. And sometimes that means you give up two free throws in order to play to your standard.
I'll trade a couple free throws and a foul for the style of play.