I remember the day that Anthony Grant had decided to leave VCU for greener pastures at Alabama. I had the day off and was in DC at the Newseum and the first thing I saw was one of many papers with the headline, “Alabama gets it’s man”.
I’ll never forget the quote from Anthony Grant, “We have been given the opportunity to create a very special situation for men’s basketball at the University of Alabama and we look forward to getting started…There’s a commitment throughout the athletic department to make sure that we have the resources necessary to compete for championships.”
Those words stung. I remember just how disappointed I was and thought the Rams would be in for some lean years ahead. How could a program recover if they were only going to have a commitment from their coaches for a few years before moving on to greener pastures?
Fast forward from March 28, 2009 to December 15, 2012…were those pastures really that much greener? Let’s evaluate Alabama’s accomplishments:
- 2009-10 – 17 wins 15 losses, no post season
- 2010-11 – 25 wins 12 losses, runner-up in NIT
- 2011-12 – 21 wins 12 losses, lost first round of NCAA Tournament (and one win during the regular season at home against a very young VCU Ram team)
Seems fairly successful, nearly winning the NIT, amassing 63 wins and 39 losses. But still, no championships for the Tide.
But VCU didn’t see lean years ahead. Instead, they hired a young man named Shaka Smart that took the Rams to heights beyond what VCU fans could have imagined. Let’s see just what VCU has done in that time:
- 2009-10 – 27 wins 9 losses, CBIT Tournament Champions
- 2010-11 – 28 wins 12 losses, NCAA Tournament Southwest Regional Champions, lost in the Final 4
- 2011-12 – 29 wins 7 losses, CAA Regular Season and Tournament Champions, lost in NCAA Tournament 2nd Round (3rd if you count the play-ins)
For VCU, that is 84 wins 28 losses and 4 championships. I don’t know but that sounds like a lot more success than what Alabama has done. Say what you may, VCU played in a weaker conference in the CAA. But the best Alabama has ever done in basketball is an Elite 8 appearance in 2003-04.
Today, Anthony Grant came back to the Siegel Center where the Rams hosted his Crimson Tide. It was never a game as VCU took command early and won 73-54. While the only player left from the team when Grant was here was David Hinton (who isn’t a regular) – it wasn’t so much revenge for the team. Neither do we VCU fans hold a grudge against Anthony Grant. He used VCU as a stepping stone to get more money and dream of having an easier path to the NCAA tournament. He was a great coach (and still is) and brought our program to new levels. I wish him the best and actually do root for him (when he’s not playing the Rams). Thank you Coach Grant!
But this day was special for some of us VCU fans who were disappointed that day he left. The day that the grass was greener and the thought was that something very special could be done and championships could be won. Instead, we got a gem of a coach that has done what you, Coach Grant, have dreamed of doing.