SUITE-NESS; UPGRADES PROGRESS AT SIEGEL CENTER

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Earlier this year, VCU announced it would add two suites in the south corners of the Stuart C. Siegel Center as part of an overall effort to enhance the arena. It’ll be a busy couple of months for “The Stu”. In addition to the suites, a new, centerhung scoreboard and sounds system will be installed, and the court will be repainted to reflect VCU’s (and the A-10’s) new branding marks.

WHAT’S YOUR 20? VCU BASKETBALL’S BEST AT EVERY NUMBER

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In basketball, we immortalize our heroes by hoisting their jerseys into the rafters. Often, we “retire” numbers, deciding that no other player is worthy to be identified by that set of numerals. It’s how we remember our favorites, and is one of the simplest ways kids can emulate their heroes. So it’s no wonder VCU fans approach the announcement of something as benign as jersey numbers with a level of excitement my wife reserves for the new season of “Scandal”. So when we released the new jersey numbers of VCU’s highly rated freshman class, it led me down the rabbit hole to questions like, “Who is the best No. 31 in VCU Basketball history?

So here we are. My ground rules were simple. First, I didn’t pick any current players. Yes, Briante Weber and Treveon Graham (and others, perhaps) certainly have arguments, but I’d like to see the entire arc of their careers before I rank them among the greats. This list is subjective, and I’d like to have as much information as possible. Second, the player needs to have worn the number for a “significant” part of his career, unless no other option was available. Therefore, I didn’t spend time considering Juvonte Reddic at No. 5 and Rob Brandenberg at No. 23, since they only wore the numbers for one season.

Feel free to berate me in the comments section.

00-George Byrd (1994-97)
Before he conquered Slamball, George Byrd was a reliable post presence for VCU’s mid-90s squads. Byrd averaged 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks to help steer the Rams to a 1996 CAA Championship that ended an 11-year NCAA Tournament drought. Honorable mention: Johnnie Story

larry-sanders1-Larry Sanders (2007-10)
Although Bo Jones makes a compelling argument, the No. 1 No. 1 in VCU history is LAR-RY SAN-DERS, and not just because he resembles one. In addition to averaging nearly a double-double as a junior (14.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg), Sanders ranks fourth in school history in blocked shots. Also, his 17-point, 20-rebound, 7-block performance against George Mason in the 2009 CAA Championship Game should be preserved by the Smithsonian. Honorable mention: Bo Jones

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HERE I AM IN FRONT OF SOME RUBBLE…

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BarneyRubble

No, not that Rubble. Actual rubble. Construction is underway at the site of the new VCU Basketball practice facility. Let’s have a look at the site now, as well as what’s ahead on Marshall Street.

MEET BETH O’BOYLE

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New Women’s Basketball Coach Beth O’Boyle has dived right in to the mix at VCU. She’s already landed a high-scoring junior college transfer in Ashley Pegram and recently shored up her coaching staff. Now, she’s sitting down with VCU Athletics to map out her goals for the program.

2013-14, THE YEAR IN PHOTOSHOPS

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Sure, we’re going to find time to share our favorite VCU photos from the wins, the championships and the milestones. This is not that time. This is an opportunity to revel in the joy of the oddities of Photoshop and social media that have either fallen out of my noggin or (more likely) fallen into my lap via some industrious VCU fan.

 

 

RAM REPORT: SPRING 2014

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The Spring 2014 Ram Report is now online. Plenty to digest, including features on VCU Baseball’s Seth Greene (who lost his mother entirely too young), Lacrosse’s Jen O’Brien (starting a program from scratch) and Khalid Khamis (who left his native Sudan). There are also artistic renderings of VCU’s new basketball practice facility and the forthcoming centerhung scoreboard and video boards, as well as other tidbits. Check it out HERE (or click on the big picture).

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RECORD-SETTING WILLIAMS CHASES HISTORY IN NCAA ENCORE

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Jaleesa Williams stands, moments after releasing a throw at the 2013 NCAA Discus Championship.

Jaleesa Williams stands, moments after releasing a throw at the 2013 NCAA Discus Championship.

Don’t assume that Jaleesa Williams’ outsized personality means she’s boisterous about her successes. She could fill pickup truck with all the awards she’s won during her four-year career as VCU’s most distinguished thrower. Yet, Williams says her Richmond apartment bears little evidence of her All-American career. Instead, she sends all her trophies home with her mother, Julia.

“She’ll appreciate it more than me,” Williams says. “It’s something to be able to give your mother an MVP trophy for all the hard work and hard-headedness she had to withstand. All the long, cold indoor track meets in high school, being underappreciated, it’s like, ‘here you go.’”

This week, Williams is going to try to win one more for her mom, as well as her father, John.

On Thursday, Williams returns to the NCAA Championships at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where she hopes to secure one of eight coveted All-America statuettes in the discus. Last season, the Virginia Beach native placed 12th at the national meet to earn Second Team All-America honors, the first thrower, man or woman, in program history to receive that distinction.

This year, Williams is better than ever. On May 30 at the NCAA East Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Florida, Williams uncorked a school-record heave of 57.97 meters (190’ 2’’) to place third and punch her return ticket to Eugene. There’s plenty of reason to believe Williams is poised for more history. Her preliminary round mark would have won last year’s national championship and is more than four meters longer than her mark from the 2013 meet (53.12m).

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#TBT: VCU FLIRTS WITH NATIONAL TITLE

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It was around this time 14 years ago that VCU threatened to win its first national championship. The VCU Men’s Tennis team, arguably the most successful athletic program in school history, advance all the way to the 2000 National Championship Match against Stanford. It was and is one of the most celebrated moments in school history.

#TBT: 1988-89 VCU BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS

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_1988-89-Team-low-res

#TBT, er something. Are we doing it right? Is this thing on?

Today’s fabulous throwback video comes via Mike Voyack, who must’ve unearthed this gem of a highlight reel from Mike Pollio’s secret vault inside the bowels of the Richmond Coliseum. Short shorts! Whitney Houston! The frustrating dearth of lower third graphics! It’s terrific. If you can’t get excited about basketball highlights woven through the masterpiece of musical tapestry that is the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “Tuff Enuff”, then there’s not much I can do for you.

As much as I enjoy needling the 80s elements that haven’t necessarily held up over time, it should not be overlooked what this team had to endure. Midway through the season, junior Mike Brown (not to be confused with Michael Brown, who starred at VCU from 1982-86) collapsed during a practice at Franklin Street and died. He was later found to have a previously undetected heart ailment. When the Rams finally returned to the court a week later, they won three straight.

Led by dynamic players like Chris Cheeks (23.8 ppg), Lionel Bacon (14.8 ppg) and Martin Henlan (9.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg), the Rams finished 13-15.

 

VIDEO: VCU BASEBALL A-10 TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

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Fourth-seeded VCU is headed to Saint Louis in search of an Atlantic 10 Championship. The Rams open with fifth-seeded Richmond on Wednesday. Go get ‘em, boys.

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