The Virginia Commonwealth men’s basketball team has become the darlings of college basketball in recent years with their success in the NCAA Tournament. In 2011, VCU made an improbable run to the Final Four and then followed that with a strong showing in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. This year, the VCU men’s basketball team is looking to steal their way into more NCAA Tournament success.
VCU employs an in-your-face 1-2-1-1 full court zone press that causes havoc for opposing teams. In fact “Havoc” is exactly what VCU coach Shaka Smart has labeled their pressing style of play. VCU leads the nation in total steals (287), steals per game (12.0), and steal percentage (17.3). They also lead the nation in turnovers-forced percentage at 29.3.
Leading the way for the Rams defense is sophomore guard, Briante Weber. The VCU coaching staff feels that Weber personifies their Havoc style of player. As a freshman reserve, Weber led the nation in steals percent at 7.0. This year, still in a reserve role, he has been even better.
Weber is third in the nation in total steals (72), fifth in the nation in steals per game (3.0), and leads the nation in steal percentage (8.0). By comparison, the four players above Weber in the steals per game category play significantly more minutes per game than Weber’s 21.8 minutes per game. Earlier this year, in their season-opening win over Florida Gulf Coast, Weber set the school record with 10 steals in only 18 minutes of play.
Weber is a Chesapeake native who played his high school basketball at Great Bridge High School. He was named as the All-Southeastern District Defensive Player of the Year during his junior and senior seasons. During his senior season at Great Bridge, Weber averaged better than four steals per game. After his senior season, Weber elected to take a post-grad year at Fork Union Military Academy before attending Virginia Commonwealth.
VCU is currently 19-5 and in their first year in the Atlantic 10 Conference, VCU is currently in a first place tie with Saint Louis with a 7-2 record.