TOP-SHELF FISHER, REDDIC IN ITALY

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A couple of weekend videos worthy of sharing. The first comes from VCU Men’s Soccer’s win over Northeastern on Friday, in which Devon Fisher buries a perfectly placed shot from 35 yards out. This goal is pretty awesome.

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Today’s second video, and congrats to those Internet sleuths monitoring Italian basketball airspace, is Juvonte Reddic’s introductory presser with Victoria Libertas. Most of this 38 minute video is in Italian, but it does include Reddic, who presumably does not speak Italian, responding to questions in English.

THE RISE OF SHAKAVISION: VCU BASKETBALL SCHEDULE RELEASED

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tumblr_mt9eusr6Tn1ryw6edo1_500Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” is must-see TV. That’s what the networks are saying, it seems.

The full VCU Men’s Basketball schedule was released Wednesday. We’ve known the non-conference slate for weeks and the home/away A-10 match-ups for months, so this was really about filling dates and setting DVRs.

In case you were stuck in a mid-afternoon meeting, here it is:

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Really, today’s news is really all about what we didn’t know before, television. Seventeen of VCU’s 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games will be nationally televised, seven by ESPN networks, including four in a row at one stretch. As of today, and there’s still time for the network to add games, VCU will appear on an ESPN network – not including ESPN3 – 11 times. I’m not even go to bother to look this up, but I’m going to say with a degree of certainty, that’s a program record. In all, 23 of VCU’s 31 regular season games are currently scheduled on a national carrier (ESPN2/U: 11, CBS Sports: 9, NBC Sports: 2). That surpasses the program mark of 21 national broadcasts, set last year.

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QUICK SCHEDULE METRICS THAT I BORROWED

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VCU released its full non-conference schedule this morning and it’s as we suspected, it’s pretty darn loaded. Games with Tennessee, Villanova, Cincinnati, Virginia, as well as some other under-the-radar giant killers like Belmont, Toledo and Cleveland State line line a really solid slate:

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Thanks to the Internet and the number of VCU fans who love to crunch schedule metrics, I’m going to borrow the following cheat sheet. This comes to us via a poster on VCURamNation.com by the screen name of ShootTheJay. Jay, I appreciate your homework. I was going to do something similar, but now I don’t have to.

non-conf-metrics

Of course, some teams will be better than last year and others will fall off some, but overall, you can see that there are a ton of quality teams on here. VCU will have every opportunity to build an NCAA resume. Of this group of 14 teams, nine finished last year in Ken Pomeroy’s top 100. Just one team posted a losing record, and eight played in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. Also, you may notice his postseason notes on Old Dominion. Those are his words, not mine, but as you can see, the spirit of the rivalry lives.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, but this has got to be one of the best non-conference schedules in school history, does it not?

LEGENDS OF THE FALL; SCHEDULE TAKES SHAPE AS VILLANOVA DATE REVEALED

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legendsThe full Legends Classic bracket was released this morning, revealing a VCU-Villanova matchup on Nov. 24 at Barclays Center. From there, it’s either Oregon or Michigan on Nov. 25. No matter what, VCU was going to get two great, tough games out of this trio, but Villanova might represent the biggest challenge in the field. The Wildcats were 29-5 last season, and although they lose leading scorer James Bell to graduation, they return a ton of talent, as well as Jay Wright’s impressive wardrobe.

You’ll also notice a date with Maryland-Eastern Shore in the bracket, which gives additional clarity to VCU’s 2014-15 schedule. Here’s what we have so far, and I’m told the rest will be released soon:

Nov. 14 vs. Tennessee (at Annapolis, Md.) – Veterans Classic
Nov. 18 – Toledo (Home Opener)
Nov. 20 – Maryland-Eastern Shore
Nov. 24 vs. Villanova (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Legends Classic
Nov. 25 vs. Michigan or Oregon (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Legends Classic

This does not include known dates with Virginia, Cincinnati and Old Dominion, as well as others. As it stands, the Rams are already slated to meet teams from the SEC, [New] Big East, [Old Big East] American Athletic, ACC and Big Ten/Pac-12. Plus, Toledo was arguably the best team in the MAC last year.

There will not be a lack of potential RPI boosters in this year’s schedule. If the Rams play well, they’ll have every opportunity to earn a high NCAA Tournament seed. Of VCU’s known potential opponents for next season, 10 – Villanova (8), Virginia (10), Michigan (11), Cincinnati (22), Saint Louis (24), UMass (26), Oregon (27), Dayton (33), Tennessee (37) and Toledo (43) – were ranked inside the RPI top 50 last year. That doesn’t guarantee those teams will enjoy the same success in 2014-15, but it does speak, in a general sense, of the competition VCU has assembled in this year’s schedule.

Also, four out of VCU’s first five games will be televised on national TV, with more on the way. These are the salad days, folks.

2014 LEGENDS CLASSIC BRACKET

2014 Legends Bracket.xls

VCU HOOPS CHECK-UP IN TWO PHOTOS

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VCU Men’s Basketball released its 2014-15 uniform set today. If they kicked the ball on the ground, they’d call these kits for reasons nobody understands. But they don’t, so they’re uniforms. Notice the return of the gray alternate, as well a new twist on the traditional VCU road uni we’ll call, “The Pleasantville.

Bt5VjDJIIAAfJiIAlso today, this.

SHAKAnado

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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VCU-20s

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.

#TBT: 1988-89 VCU BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS

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#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.

 

VCU BASKETBALL PRACTICE FACILITY RENDERINGS, A COMPARISON

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VCU_2014-0310_Ext Main Entrance

VCU announced it has selected a construction firm to build its new $25 million basketball practice facility, and with that announcement came the release of brand new artistic renderings of the complex. These are going to turn a few heads. You can view the full release and gallery HERE.

In the meantime, I thought I might offer a little further perspective of the site where the Rams will build their sparkling new facility, which is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2015.

First, here’s the site the new complex will occupy on Marshall Street, between Kinney and Norton Streets, adjacent to the Siegel Center.

At the top, you can see the site, currently occupied by the Thacker-Spencer Casket Company and Vasco Auto. Below is the Siegel Center.

At the top, you can see the site, currently occupied by the Thacker-Spencer Casket Company and Vasco Auto. Below is the Siegel Center.

Here’s are a couple of comparisons from the street of present day and the future site.

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No matter how you slice it, this thing is going to be nice. Shovels should be in the ground sometime around June 2.

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