On Wednesday night, Virginia Commonwealth routed East Tennessee State by 51 points, 109-58. Why am I mentioning it this morning? What could possibly be interesting about a 51-point blowout?
If you were up and on Twitter last night, you already know: In that win, VCU guard Troy Daniels made 11 3s -- 11 3s! -- and finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds. According to VCU athletics communications, those 11 3s -- again: 11 3s! -- were not only a school record but an Atlantic 10 conference record as well. No other player has hit more than 10 3s in a game all season; the all-time record is 15.
In the past three games, Daniels is 27-of-49 from beyond the arc, good for 55.1 percent. Which is all well and good, but the best part about all this is what Daniels doesn't do. He almost never shoots something that isn't a 3-point shot. In the past eight games, an eight-game VCU winning streak, Daniels is 44-of-94 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-10 from inside it. He has attempted exactly two free throws in eight games. The dude just makes shots, and never was that more true than Thursday night against ETSU.
And all this would be ephemeral statistical trivia were it not such an important thing for the Rams. After the game, coach Shaka Smart called Daniels "the best shooter I've ever coached." This is true. It is also a little insane, considering the way his 2011 team got incredibly hot and shot itself from the First Four to the Final Four. It's also sort of insane because last season Daniels was merely OK from 3. He made 38.1 percent -- not bad by any means, but he didn't shoot like this. Combined with the emergence of sophomore guard Treveon Graham into a go-to offensive weapon, Daniels' shooting has been a key factor in elevating VCU's offense from the nation's 97th-best in 2012 to a top-20 per-possession outfit in 2013.
When you play defense like the Rams do, you always have a chance. But when you combine that defense with offense like this, with the type of shooting that can get you 33 points on 11 3s (and 10 rebounds to boot), well, you've got something much greater than a chance. Daniels is the best shooter Smart has coached, and this team is his best yet, too.