ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

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When I was 17, I got my driver’s license, a development I was sure was my ticket to girls, summer fun, freedom and more girls. Sure, I would also be able to drive myself to my minimum wage job as a highly-regarded member of the fast food society, but more importantly, chicks! As I drove to McDonald’s that first day as a fully-legal operator of my dad’s battered F-150 pickup, Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway played in my head.

Of course, I was still a crappy driver, just a legal crappy driver. That’s why, even after I got my chick magnet, a 1988 four-door Chevy Cavalier with a hint of wet dog smell, my parents still issued restrictions on my driving. It was something I needed to ease into, rather than drag racing Ford Fiestas down Raccoon Road. Sure enough, about a month later, on the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance, I got my first speeding ticket (Oh, I earned it) after dropping off my girlfriend (see, chicks!).

Basketball is like that too. Just like drivers don’t turn the ignition on Day One and morph into Jeff Gordon, basketball players don’t become The Man right away. It’s important to remember that this season, when a youthful VCU Men’s Basketball Team takes the floor. There will be six freshmen and three sophomore’s on this year’s squad, oodles of inexperience.

That’s why it’s important to manage expectations, especially early in the season. The team you see in November will not be the one playing at the Coliseum in March.

Here’s some great research generated by the folks over at Navy Sports Info to illustrate the point. According to this, VCU is the eighth-least experienced team in the country this season. Also, Navy has 10 freshmen? Ed Dechellis isn’t going to be getting much sleep this year.

SPORTS INFO PHOTO OF THE DAY

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Rams Review's Tommy Lopez and Jade Mallard interview VCU Volleyball standout Kristin Boyd as construction continues on the Siegel Center Suite/Club Seat Project in the background.

ANOTHER PREVIEW FOR REVIEW

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Mike Litos of CAAHoops.com has released his CAA men’s basketball preview. It’s never too early, folks. Anyway, as per usual, Litos provides a well-written, thoroughly researched look inside The Association. CAA Season Preview (CAAHoops.com).

SCHERRER SHOT

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It’s been a bit of a bumpy fall for the Rams, but with conference season underway, things should be picking up, right? RIGHT???

Anyway, here’s a couple of notables from the weekend from field hockey. The Rams shocked defending CAA Champion Drexel Sunday. I promise you, very few people outside of Richmond saw that coming. What a great win. I hope this builds some momentum for the rest of the conference season.

It’s all about Kelsey Scherrer today.The junior forward had three goals over the weekend, which moves her into fourth in school history in career points with 79. She trails Marle van Dessel by four points for third, Celly Chamberlin by eight and and Alycia Yoder by 18.

Scherrer is also fourth in career goals with 32, one behind Chamberlin, four behind van Dessel and six behind Yoder. She also tied Phyllis Braxton for eighth with 15 assists.

HAPPY FRIDAY

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Some good stuff coming to the blog next week. Look for it. In the meantime, today is Boss’ Day. It’s Bruce Springsteen’s 62nd birthday. Enjoy.

SMART WISDOM

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I’m working on number of projects for both the Ram Report and the blog. I did three great interviews today and I’ve got another scheduled for tomorrow, so expect some interesting stuff in the coming days. Had a chance to sit down with Shaka Smart for a profile I’m writing on new Assistant Coach Jamion Christian, who, as it turns out, is a certified whiffleball ringer.

I can’t give you the whole story right now. Those of you who receive the Ram Report will have this on your coffee table or in your bathroom soon enough. However, I love this quote from Smart, which tells you a lot about the way his mind works.

On Christian:
“I think he’s got a great perspective on the game, and it’s different, much different than anyone else on our staff because of his background and who he’s worked for. That’s always something that you invite. You don’t want to bring someone in that has the exact same views as you and knows the same things as you because then they basically become a ‘yes’ man. Jamion’s brought up a bunch of interesting ideas that the rest of us haven’t thought of.”

WEEKEND FORCAST: INTERN STEALS OUR JOB

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Look at Nan Turner, angling for our jobs. Unbelievable.

WE’RE NO. 157!

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To most VCU fans, Eric Maynor is No. 1 in their minds and hearts. According to ESPN, he’s No. 157, in the NBA, that is. The site released its rankings of every NBA player recently, and The Worldwide Leader nestled Maynor nicely between Omer Asik and Omri Casspi. Not bad for the a backup point guard, to be honest. One comment even boasted that Maynor could start on a number of teams, something I hope comes to fruition in the next couple of seasons.

VCU’s other current NBAer, Larry Sanders, came in at No. 333, which is understandable, given his limited experience in the league.

MONDAY? NEVERMIND.

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I could spend 1,000 words today on the implosion of the Big East and the cannibalistic landscape of college athletics the last week or so, but I’m not really sure I’m qualified to do so. Dana O’Neill of ESPN.com is, however, and shares many of my same opinions. What I will say is that the most important words to remember here are hypocrisy and greed.

Clearly, we’re just at the beginning of all of this. The Big East and Big 12 are crumbling and the ripple effects will be felt everywhere. The most dramatic changes will come at the BCS Football level, but no doubt about it, we could be in store for major changes across the board. A seismic shift is underway. How will VCU fit in? I don’t even know how to begin to speculate. It will be interesting (and sad) to watch how things unfold in the coming days and weeks.

CAA Hoops’ Mike Litos is talking with CAA Commish Tom Yeager today. You can follow his Tweets from that conversation HERE.

IN OTHER NEWS…
The Commonwealth Times is profiling women’s soccer’s Lauryn Hutchinson today.

Programming alert! Quanitra Hollingsworth and the New York (via Newark, N.J.) Liberty will be playing the decisive third game of their WNBA first round playoff series tonight against the Indiana Fever.

HELLO, HELLO, HELLO, HOW LOW?
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind. I was 14 when the album came out and it literally changed how I looked at and listened to music. It also effectively killed off hair metal and sparked a cultural revolution, so that’s nice too.

VOLLEYBLOG #7: UPBEAT, BUT EMPTY-HANDED

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SATURDAY, 8:58 p.m.

This 12 hour bus ride sure would feel a whole lot shorter if we were leaving with a win in our pocket.

Two days, three matches, three losses. Each match has its own story, but the result was the same. The Rams hit Michigan State in the mouth this morning (not literally, these are nice, polite women), stealing the first set, 25-23, before eventually dropping a 3-1 decision. The Michigan State radio guy, an excitable fella, to say the least, was raving about VCU’s scrappiness.

SIDE NOTE: Michigan State must’ve had the most excitable public address announcer/radio broadcaster combo I’ve come across in college volleyball. The P.A. was throwing in “Oh My!” and “No she didn’t! Yes she did!” all weekend long. It was like listening to a street ball game at Rucker Park.

Anyway, the Michigan State match wasn’t a win, but it was a step in the right direction. At lunch, at Potbelly Deli on campus, Coach James Finley talked about how much he enjoys coaching, not for the wins and losses, but for moments like that, when kids play hard and good things happen.  Finley was in a good mood and had good reason to be. He loves going toe-to-toe with the big name schools.

When we returned to the arena, the staff stayed on the bus while the team sought treatment in the training room. A little while later, Courtney Hott came aboard the bus and told Finley that our Athletic Trainer, Jenn, needed to speak with him. The content of that conversation is none of my business, but I do know that when I got inside the gym, senior libero Amanda Friday was in sweats and would not be available. It was a big loss for the Rams, who have come to lean on Friday’s maturity and increasingly steady play from the back row. Friday missed the first few matches of the season with issues related to concussions.

VCU may have caught Michigan State off guard this morning, but against Ball State, it was the Rams who were late to the party. The Cardinals, a fine team, no doubt, jumped all over VCU in the first, held off a late rally in the second and eventually scored the 3-1 win.

Whatever fire and brimstone speech Finley gives in the locker room, he usually leaves it there. Disappointed as he was, he and the team were in good spirits when we boarded the bus.

Our manager, David picked up Noodles and Co. for dinner on the ride home. It’s 12 hours back to Richmond. Stopping for dinner would be titanic waste of time at this point. Everybody’s pretty much ready to get back home

Once we were on the bus and moving, Finley gathered his players around to tell them that Kristin Boyd (who played out of her mind) had been named to the All-Tournament Team. Applause, girls screeching, cheering, etc. I pulled up our stats for the weekend and Finley made sure to point out a few more things before he left the girls to sleep and study. He was happy with the way they blocked, and he wanted to make sure to focus on the good things they did. The team starts CAA play next weekend and  he wants them to know that they’ve emerged from a tough non-conference slate a better team than the one that started a month ago.

Anyway, we’re headed east. For now, we’ll be watching the Ohio State-Miami football game on the bus and then some serious sleep time. ETA into Richmond is 9 a.m. That’s going to make for a strange Sunday.

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