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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LATE-BLOOMER: FRESHMAN THORPE A FINE SURPRISE FOR VCU

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Isis Thorpe is VCU's highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

Isis Thorpe is VCU’s highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

VCU freshman guard Isis Thorpe has always been a bit of an independent spirit. In high school, she loved the piano sections of the K-Ci & JoJo hit “All My Life” so much she decided to take up piano. So she asked her mother for a keyboard and looked up tutorials on YouTube.

“I wanted to play the piano because I just wanted something new,” the Reading, Pa. native says. “I never wanted to be just a basketball player. I always wanted to do other things so I can say I’ve done something else.”

Thorpe later took a piano class as a high school senior, and while she still calls herself a beginner, she can play Christmas songs and some Beethoven, as well as some R&B standards.

Her basketball career has followed a similar plot line. A late-starter, the 5-foot-8 guard learned the game in her own independent way, but has proven to be a quick study. This season, she’s burst onto the scene to become the second-leading scorer for Coach Marlene Stollings’ upstart VCU Women’s Basketball team. Even among Stollings’ ready-made initial VCU recruiting class, Thorpe has managed to stand out.

Thorpe’s outstanding debut campaign isn’t just a nice surprise for the 18-6 Rams, it’s bordering on historic. Thorpe is averaging 12.9 points per game, the most by a VCU freshman since future WNBA pro Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 14.7 during the 2005-06 season, and the most by a true VCU freshman since Rochelle Luckett (12.8) in 1998-99. Hollingsworth eventually scored 1,604 points in a VCU uniform, which ranks third in school history. Luckett is fifth with 1,483. Thorpe also ranks fourth in the A-10 in 3-pointers per game (2.5). Her 60 triples are already the sixth-most in school single-season history.

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VIDEO: RAMS HAMMER UMASS 112-54

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VCU Women’s Basketball opened Atlantic 10 Conference play Thursday night and boy, did they open. The Rams thrashed UMass 112-54 and set records for most points in a game, most points in a half (62) and most 3-pointers (14). It was as thorough a beating as you can administer. It was also a school-record 12th straight win for Marlene Stollings’ club. The Rams are now 13-1 and head to Duquesne on Saturday.

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