Grant starting strong in first year as VCU head coach
Posted: Friday February 2, 2007 1:43PM; Updated: Friday February 2, 2007 2:27PM
If you talk to Anthony Grant for any length of time, winning is going to come up. Several times.
When the first-year Virginia Commonwealth coach is asked what made him leave Florida after 10 years as an assistant coach, he says, "there was a commitment to winning" at VCU. When pressed to elaborate on what set the VCU job apart from the other offers he had received during his successful tenure with Billy Donovan, he says VCU has always been in the upper echelon of the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, and "I put a high value on winning." When asked how his new players have been able to have such a successful season -- a 19-4 record through Thursday, including 11-1 in the CAA -- Grant says, "They understand it all comes down to winning."
And does Grant ever ponder what it may be like to make the NCAA tournament, and meet Florida in an early round matchup? Nope. "We want to win the game in front of us," he says.
OK, we get it. The guy likes to win. So what was it like to be a part of a team that won the national championship?
"It was awesome," he says. "The thing that I appreciate the most was the journey. Two years at Marshall, 10 at Florida, and every year trying to put ourselves in position where we could accomplish that goal -- win the national championship. When we made it to the Final Four, it was something we appreciated, but at the same time, we wanted to win it. It was just great to see that happen."
Not long after the Gators beat UCLA and cut down the nets in Indianapolis, Grant explored the VCU job when Jeff Capel, who averaged 19 wins in his four years and made the tournament once, left for Oklahoma.
"It was a shock," senior B.A. Walker said of Capel's departure. "But [the administration] said they would hire the perfect coach, and that is what they did."
Donovan felt VCU got a steal when it landed Grant.
"We have a tendency to focus on the major-conference hirings, but I thought one of the greatest coaching coups of any school was when Anthony was hired at VCU," Donovan says. "They can build their program around him. I have all the respect in the world for him as a coach and a person."
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