SEAL SEASON: WOMEN’S HOOPS

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First, Shaka Smart convinced a whole campus that “Havoc” was the IT brand in college hoops. Now, his influence is changing the way other VCU programs prepare for their seasons.

The Rams have made headlines the last three years by using SEAL Team PT  to ready themselves for the rigors of one of college basketballs’ most intense systems. Really, it’s more about team building. These guys are already in outstanding shape, but when you’re running a high-risk, high-reward full-court pressing operation, you have to be able to trust the guys behind you.

It’s been so successful that this year, several other VCU teams will participate in SEAL Team PT, including the women’s basketball program under first-year Coach Beth O’Boyle.

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.

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.

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.

kinney-marshallnorton-marshall

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

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETH O’BOYLE

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VCU introduced new Women’s Basketball Coach Beth O’Boyle last week. Here’s your chance to get to know her a little better.

VIDEO: VCU TOPS RICHMOND IN A-10 FIRST ROUND

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VCU beats Richmond for the second time this season to advance to the A-10 quarterfinals. The Rams will meet top seed Dayton Friday at noon at the Coliseum.

MARLENE STOLLINGS MEDIA MINUTES (MARCH 3)

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The A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship kicks off on Wednesday at the Richmond Coliseum. VCU opens on Thursday at noon against Richmond. On Monday, second-year VCU Coach Marlene Stollings sat down to discuss the tournament.

VIDEO: WBB STAGES STUNNING COMEBACK

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The VCU Women’s Basketball team trailed St. Bonaventure by as many as 17 points in the first half Wednesday night and was still chasing 14 points at halftime. What did they end up doing? Winning by 17, naturally. VCU shot 46 percent (15-of-33) and hit six threes in the second half and turned the Bonnies – a 20-win squad – over 24 times in a 74-57 win. With that victory, the Rams improved to 20-6 overall, the sixth 20-win season in program history and the first since 2009-10. VCU is already nine wins better than last season. VCU (8-6) is also still very much alive for a top-4 seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament.

THE TAMBOURINE MAN

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Anna Bing with son Ellis earlier this season. Ellis Bingham joined the VCU Athletic Band "The Peppas" this season.

Anna Bingham with son Ellis earlier this season. Ellis Bingham, who has cerebral palsy, joined the VCU Athletic Band, “The Peppas”, this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Pep Band’s new tambourine player has no musical background, but he’s quickly become one of the most inspiring members of “The Peppas” a boisterous troupe that churns out inspired songs. His name is Ellis Bingham, and although he can barely talk, outside of a handful of words, he’s never spoken with a louder voice – the sound of his spirited, rattling tambourine – than now.

You can find Bingham at Rams games seated in his motorized wheelchair – decorated with a VCU flag and bumper sticker – at floor level, left arm jutting skyward, gleefully shaking his tambourine as The Peppas gyrate their way through another raucous performance.

Known to his bandmates as just “Bing”, Ellis has cerebral palsy, a disorder caused by damage to the cerebellum in developing brains. People with cerebral palsy can face a wide range of motor control disabilities. For Bing, that means a number of physical and speech impairments, including the inability to walk. He can’t sit up without assistance and speaks mostly through a voice computer.

While he’s been faced with those obstacles throughout his life, the 22-year-old Richmond native and his mother, Anna Bingham, have rarely accepted those limitations at face value.

Anna calls Bing her “miracle”. Born 16 weeks premature, Bing weighed just 1-pound, 7.5 ounces at birth and could nearly fit in the palm of Anna’s hand. He spent the next four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MCV. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which occurs more frequently in premature births, when he was about a year old.

“You go day by day,” Anna says of those challenging early years. “If I knew everything at the beginning that I knew at the end, it would have been too much. You take it day by day. I think your attitude is really important, as well as educating yourself and honestly believing in your child and believing he can do anything.”

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