RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It was March 2011 when a relatively unknown VCU team entered the NCAA tournament as a #11 seed, with many around the nation looking down on the school and dismissing the team as a non-contender.
What they didn't know was that the team, under Coach Shaka Smart, would bring a little thing called HAVOC.
"If you're a competitor, what that really does is drive you," said Coach Smart on the negative talk surrounding the team's tournament berth. "It makes you say, 'all right, I'll show you.'"
"It's great motivation for us," said VCU guard Bradford Burgess. "We feel we deserve to be in here, and we just want to come out and show it."
"I'm sure they know we can play. I'm sure they know we are a competitive team, but to hear them talk about us like that on TV, it bothers some people," said VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez. "It's a chance for us early in the week to come out here and prove we belong here."
And prove it they did.
After an opening round win over USC, VCU defeated #6 seed Georgetown handily 74-56, followed by a crushing win over #3 seed Purdue, 94-76.
While there was speculation that the team lucked out in their next win against Florida State after nearly blowing a nine-point lead and winning 72-71 in overtime, there was no denying the team's strength in the next game - VCU went on to silence the critics and stun the nation by handing a 10-point loss to #1 seed Kansas, one of the greatest NCAA tournament upsets in years.
The win placed VCU in NCAA history as only the third #11 seed to make it to the Final Four.
Sadly, VCU's tournament run would end there, with a heart-breaking 70-62 loss to Butler.
Five years later, VCU has a new team and a new coach, but the spirit of Ram Nation remains in the community.
Will VCU bring the HAVOC this year? Their first game against Oregon State begins at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 18.
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