Augusta Free Press

VMI basketball wins opener in summer Euro trip

Freshmen Jordan Ratliff and Samuel Patel scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, to lead VMI past Fellows Ekeren, 84-78 Sunday in Brussels, Belgium in the first game of an eight-day summer European trip.

“Overall I’m really pleased with the effort and how hard we played together,” said head coach Dan Earl. “It took a while for us to become accustomed to some of the different basketball rules in Europe. We had something like eight walks called in Europe. The ball has to be dropped before the first step.”

The Keydets also received scoring contributions from junior Austin Vereen (14 points) and sophomore Keith Smith (9 points).

“The second half we really started playing well,” added Earl. “Guys were driving and attacking the basket which led to us getting fouled and getting to the line. Overall, I’m really pleased with the effort and how hard we played together. They (Fellows Ekeren) were really physical and experienced. Most of their players range from 25-30 years old.”

Earl was able to call on the entire squad during the game employing substitutions at a high pace. “It was nice to get everyone in. We had 13 players play between 7-25 minutes. It was a little difficult to create the rotations, but it was a great experience for all of them. Our next two opponents will be even better and a greater challenge.”

The Keydets will next take in a day of cultural and historical sites in France before preparing for their next gameTuesday against Gent Hawks in Belgium.

Tomorrow (Monday) we will head to Paris, which everyone is really looking forward to.”

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.