Troy Daniels (Getty Images)
When Daniels broke VCU's school record by sinking nine 3-pointers in a victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday night, the 6-foot-4 senior said he thought the mark would probably stand for a while. Turns out it didn't last a week because Daniels shattered his own record four nights later in a 109-58 shellacking of host East Tennessee State.
Daniels drained a ridiculous 11 of 20 3-pointers he attempted, several from 28 to 30 feet from the rim. One of his threes was from so deep his feet were nearly touching the edge of East Tennessee State's midcourt logo.
"I didn't know how many threes I had until after everyone told me after the game," said Daniels, who finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds. "Breaking the record definitely wasn't a goal for me. I was just out there shooting. I figured that record was going to stand for a while, but I just had the hot hand again tonight."
The 3-point barrage from Daniels on Wednesday night broke the Atlantic 10 record for threes in a game and made him the only Division I player to sink 10 or more in one game this season. Marshall's Keith Veney set the Division I record with 15 threes against Morehead State in 1996, but no player has sunk more than 11 from behind the arc in the same game since Seton Hall's Jamel Jackson hit 12 against VMI on Dec. 12, 2009.
If a handful of other players have produced greater single-game tallies than Daniels, few have been able to maintain a hot streak longer. Not only does Daniels have 20 threes in VCU's past two games, he is 41 of 70 from behind the arc since Dec. 7 to raise his shooting percentage from behind the arc to 43.1 percent this season.
"It's a great feeling," Daniels said. "With hard work, results follow. I've always been a big believer in that."
Indeed much of Daniels' success in games this season has been a result of how he prepares in practice and during the offseason.
Since VCU relies on swarming full-court pressing defense and transition offense, the Rams do anything from running to NAVY Seals training to grueling full-court games of 1-on-1 to prepare for the physical demands of their fast-paced style. That conditioning is especially important for Daniels because he needs his legs to be strong so his jump shot is still on target late in games.
Several times a week after VCU's most grueling practices, coach Shaka Smart will ask Daniels to stay afterward and do a drill known as "Nine out of 10" in which he has to make nine out of 10 shots from five spots on the floor before he can leave. That drill was a constant struggle for Daniels as a freshman, but he has grown more resilient throughout his VCU tenure.
"Sometimes I was dead tired and we had already practiced a couple hours, so it was really hard at first," Daniels said. "But as the years have gone on, I've finally mastered that drill and we've had to think up some different drills."
Daniels' shooting is a big reason why VCU (11-3) is riding an eight-game win streak and enters Atlantic 10 play as one of the favorites to win the league. He has Smart's blessing to shoot whenever he's open, no matter where he is on the floor or whether he has a hot or cold hand.
Mired in a mild 9 of 33 slump from behind the arc before VCU's game against rival Old Dominion on Dec. 7, Daniels busted out by burying eight threes to sink the Monarchs. He has kept up that hot streak in the Rams' five games since, culminating with Wednesday night's game when he was shooting so well East Tennessee State fans called for Smart to "show some mercy" and remove Daniels from the game.
Asked whether he has any predictions for how long his current school record will last, Daniels chuckled but declined to offer a guess.
"I'm not going to promise anything," he said. "I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can for my team. If it happens again, it happens."
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