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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#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.

VCU BASKETBALL PRACTICE FACILITY RENDERINGS, A COMPARISON

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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.

2014-15 A-10 PAIRINGS RELEASED

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Here are VCU Men’s Basketball’s Atlantic 10 pairings for the 2014-15 season. The Rams will play home-and-home series with Davidson, George Mason, George Washington, Saint Louis and Richmond. I love that the league appears to have taken geography into account. VCU already enjoys a fantastic rivalry with Richmond, while the Rams also have strong recent history with Saint Louis and (as of last year) George Washington, and George Mason. Given Davidson’s history and location, VCU could have another budding rivalry on its hands there as well.

You will notice the league has officially shifted from a 16-game conference slate to an 18-game schedule. Given the 14-team makeup of the league, it was probably inevitable.

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Fans should really enjoy (at least) the names coming to the Siegel Center in 2015. On paper, the Rams will have a really strong A-10 home schedule, not that VCU was having trouble moving tickets.

For league-wide pairings for next season, click here.

GOLF NCAA REGIONAL PREVIEW

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VCU Golf punched its ticket to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2010 on April 27 when it captured the A-10 Championship. The Rams are off to the Briggs Ranch Golf Club May 15-17 in San Antonio, Texas. Our own Mike Voyack recently caught up with the team to look ahead to NCAA play.

SO THIS IS TERRY LARRIER…

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I don’t post a lot of mix tapes and dunk videos because they’re so overblown and generally of little use in actually evaluating a player’s on-court ability. You may have noticed that there are more than a few Division I basketball players that can dunk.

With all that get-off-my-lawn bluster aside, it’s hard not to enjoy watching this dunk from incoming four-star recruit Terry Larrier. Don’t project a career arc when you watch this. Just enjoy it for what it is. That doesn’t mean you should refrain from cooking up Terry Larrier nicknames. The season will be here before you know it.

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In other news, it is now completely impossible to dislike Kevin Durant. Last night, Durant gave probably the best MVP award acceptance speech ever. The best part is when Durant addresses his mom directly (about 2:55 mark). Watch it.

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.

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