New coach Will Wade: VCU's trademark 'havoc' style will remain

RICHMOND, Va. -- Will Wade was several minutes into describing his vision of VCU basketball before delivering his money line.

"Just so you all know, Havoc still lives here," he said Wednesday about the Rams' playing style that he assured would not change. He was met by rousing applause from several hundred fans at an introductory pep rally.

Wade, the 11th coach in school history, was the first assistant Shaka Smart hired six years ago. He spent four years on the staff before taking the head-coaching job at Chattanooga. The "havoc" playing style includes full-court pressure defense.

At Chattanooga, Wade created a playing style he called "chaos," which was his version of VCU's trademarked "havoc" style with his personal spins, including an occasional diversion from 94 feet of pressure to a matchup zone.

Otherwise, he said, "We're going to fly around for 94 feet. ... We're going to give no ground."

VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said maintaining the Rams' style was a priority, as was finding a "proven winner who is going to win basketball games and win them in a fun way."

The school says terms of his contract are not finalized.

Wade, 32, compiled a 40-25 record in two seasons at Chattanooga and a 27-9 record in the Southern Conference. The Mocs finished 22-10 this year, including 15-3 in the league.

At VCU, instead of a rebuilding job, he takes over an established program. The Rams won at least 26 games in each of Smart's six seasons, have been to five consecutive NCAA tournaments and sell out their home arena for every game.

During his interview, McLaughlin told Wade of the need for the Rams to take another step forward and to play on the second weekend of the tournament, something they haven't done since their Final Four run in 2011.

VCU is 2-4 in the NCAAs the past four seasons and has lost its opening game in each of the past two years.

Wade is well aware that the expectations of this job are different than what he assumed in Tennessee.

"Here, you're handed the keys to a Ferrari. You need to press the gas and go fast," he said.

The Rams will do that at both ends of the court, he said, using an offense designed to attack the paint, find open 3-pointers and free throw opportunities. Offensive rebounding will also be a focus, the coach said.

Wade, a high school history and world geography teacher by trade, intends to employ theories borrowed from coaching mentors Oliver Purnell, Tommy Amaker and Smart, as well as his own love for all things analytical with the Rams.

His attention to nutrition is "huge," he said, and he will even monitor such things as his players' sleep patterns.

That all changes when the ball is tipped, he said.

"Once it's game time, it's time for the guys to play, and I like to give them freedom, freedom to play, freedom to play without me freaking out or getting really upset if something bad happens," he said.

Wade met with the team Tuesday night and planned to meet with it again Wednesday. He also has planned to reach out to the three players who signed while Smart was the coach, hoping to share his vision and keep VCU in their plans.