By David Jablonski
Will Wade wishes his team didn’t have such a flair for the dramatic. A coach ages fast when his team wins two games in a row despite giving up go-ahead 3-pointers with 0.4 seconds to play.
On the other hand, Virginia Commonwealth shares first place with Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Conference — both teams are 10-2 with six games to play — because of those road victories against St. Bonaventure and George Washington.
On Monday, during the weekly Atlantic 10 coaches teleconference, Wade explained the genesis of the play call that helped his team beat George Washington 54-53 on Wednesday. VCU drew a charge on the in-bounds play, allowing JeQuan Lewis to hit the go-ahead free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining. That followed a 3-pointer by Yuta Watanabe that should have won the game for the Colonials.
“When I was a manager for Larry Shyatt, who is with the Dallas Mavericks now and was the head coach at Clemson at the time,” Wade said, “we ran something similar to that one year at Florida State, and we got trucked, and they did not call it. I always kind of stored it in the back of my mind. The play’s called hole in one, and it’s a play (former Dayton coach Oliver Purnell) used for years when I worked for him at Clemson as well. What I did was combine the hole in one play with the play coach Shyatt ran to get the guy free on the baseline.”
Wade has a late-game playbook he has used since his days as the head coach at Chattanooga. He said they’ve practiced this specific play 350-400 times.
“We practice it all the time,” Wade said. “We just got fortunate it worked.”
Injury news: St. Joseph’s lost Lamarr Kimble for the season to a broken foot. Kimble scored 27 points last week in a loss at Dayton and was averaging 15.5 points per game.
The Hawks had already lost point guard Shavar Newkirk for the season. Their two leading scorers averaged 35.8 points between them.
“You can fight this or flee this,” coach Phil Martelli said. “I like our locker room. I think we’ll fight. I just don’t know if we have the basketball wherewithal we’re going to need to face VCU (on Tuesday) and La Salle on Saturday.”
Garrett update: Rhode Island guard Jarvis Garrett didn’t play Friday against Dayton. He has missed eight straight games because of an unspecified illness but is nearing a return.
“He’s begun practice,” coach Dan Hurley said. “The trick for him was he didn’t just miss practice for 25 days. He had 25 straight days where he did nothing, no cardio, no weightlifting, no basketball at all, while he was recovering. it was that intense what he was going through physically. He’s been back for the last week building up cardio, transitioning to live play. He’s a big part of the program, a big part of this team. When we get him back, it’s certainly going to be a big shot in the arm.”
Big game: VCU plays at Richmond (15-9, 9-3) at 9 p.m. Friday. The Rams won the first game 81-74 at VCU on Feb. 1. The Spiders beat George Washington 84-75 and La Salle 64-52 last week to stay a game back of Dayton and VCU.
Players of the week: George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh and Massachusetts guard Donte Clark were named A-10 players of the week. Cavanaugh averaged 23 points and 13.5 rebounds in two games. Clark averaged 27 points in two games.