RICHMOND, THE PLACE TO BE

Leave a comment

It’s no secret that Richmond has been a summer workout hotbed for former Rams like Eric Maynor, Jamal Shuler, Jesse Pellot-Rosa, Jamie Skeen, Brandon Rozzell, B.A. Walker and others. Wednesday, Smart said he’s glad players, even ones he didn’t coach at VCU, still come back.

POST ‘DAGGER’ ERA MOLDED IN SAN JUAN

Leave a comment

Kirill Pishchalnikov defends Arkansas' Charles Thomas during the 2007 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Kirill Pishchalnikov defends Arkansas’ Charles Thomas during the 2007 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

2013 PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF (pdf)

The post-Dagger days began in Puerto Rico.

It was in San Juan in 2007, at the first Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where we tried to find out if VCU, as a Goliath exterminator, had staying power. Nearly a week after rolling designated milk jug Maryland-Eastern Shore in the 2007-08 season-opener, VCU headed to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Anthony Grant, was, as Shaka Smart is today, THE rising star among college coaches. Eric Maynor, whose “Dagger” with 1.8 seconds left gave VCU its unforgettable, 79-77 upset of Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament the previous March, was a certified star. You could have sold his image on commemorative plates on QVC alongside those bearing Dale Earnhardt’s, if the NCAA allowed that sort of kitsch.

But while Grant and Maynor were known quantities, magnetic drawing cards with the goods to back it up, the rest was up in the air. People love NCAA Tournament upsets, they embrace the Princetons and the Bryce Drews, the Eric Maynors, the Cleveland States and the La Salles for weeks each March. But when the lights go out, most of them fade from the national consciousness. We rode high on the hog for months, but secretly, we wondered if Maynor’s “Dagger” was VCU’s 15 minutes; If the illogical food chain of college hoops would gobble us up and cast us back from whence we came, back to the obscurity of mid-majordom.

The tournament began in earnest. Grant’s recruiting class that year included Larry Sanders, Joey Rodriguez, Lance Kearse, Ed Nixon, Brandon Rozzell and Myk Brown, and transfer Kirill Pishchalnikov was also on board. Much of the publicity, and for a VCU recruiting class up to that point, it was significant, focused on Kearse and Rodriguez. Sanders was intriguing, but very much an unknown.

More

IN THE GYM: MAYNOR, SHULER, ROZZELL, BURGESS

1 Comment

Mike Voyack caught up with former VCU stars Eric Maynor, Brandon Rozzell, Jamal Shuler and Brad Burgess (showing off a new Golden State Warriors t-shirt) Wednesday. The quartet is just part of a large group of former VCU Basketball standouts that return to campus during the summer for offseason workouts. In the summer months, Franklin Street Gym and the VCU weight room can feature a who’s who of program greats, from Maynor and Larry Sanders, to Jesse Pellot-Rosa and B.A. Walker.

YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO VCU BASKETBALL FIRST PITCHES

2 Comments

Over the years, as VCU Basketball has gained steam, so too have requests to have Rams throw out first pitches at baseball games. I’m still waiting on first puck drop calls. I know a spike is coming soon. Anyway, here we examine each Rams’ performance on the diamond.

Shaka Smart (Chicago Cubs, 2011)

Shaka Smart isn’t a large man by any means, but that didn’t stop guys like Billy Wagner from bringing the heat. Unfortunately for Smart, it kind of did. No matter, Smart has pretty good form here as he paints the inside corner. Good snap on the arm. I think he’s falling away to the left a bit, but that’s something the coaching staff can correct during side sessions.
Bonus/demerits: Bonuses for throwing from the rubber, throwing to a VCU guy (Sean Marshall), being at Wrigley Field, the custom jersey (is he wearing No. 91? Channeling Dennis Rodman?), and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

More

JUST ANOTHER GAME? RICHMOND MATCH-UP LOOMS

2 Comments

VCU is 2-1 against Richmond during senior Darius Theus' career.

VCU is 2-1 against Richmond during senior Darius Theus’ career.

RICHMOND, Va. – For a night, battle lines are drawn somewhere around Staples Mill Road. It’s West End versus Downtown when Richmond and VCU meet on the basketball court.

“I remember when I got the job here, several people came up to me and told me, I don’t care how you do all season, except you’ve got to beat Old Dominion and Richmond, and so I never forgot when they said that,” recalled VCU Coach Shaka Smart Tuesday.

In recent years, as both programs have risen to national prominence – VCU’s Final Four run in 2011 cemented its status, while Richmond’s Sweet 16 berth the same year did the same – so too has this long-running rivalry.

It’s always been a contentious fight, but lately, the stars have aligned to add flavor to this rivalry. In addition to each school’s NCAA tournament success, 19th-ranked VCU (16-3, 4-0 A-10) and Richmond (12-7, 2-2 A-10) are conference foes once again this season. A win is worth more than local bragging rights. It can alter the course of the Atlantic 10 Conference race.

Fans on both sides of the rivalry cast their stones annually, sometimes enough to whip players and coaches into the fervor. Smart said recently that in past years, players like Joey Rodriguez, known for his penchant for absorbing Internet chatter, and Richmond-native Brandon Rozzell enjoyed the buzz around town for games like this.

More

R.E.S.P.E.C.T IS SPELLED E.S.P.Y.

Leave a comment

‘sup?

FORMER RAMS RETURN TO VCU FOR SUMMER WORKOUTS

2 Comments

GRADUATION…SWAG

Leave a comment

Really nice video here from VCURamNation.com, which gave Joey Rodriguez, Brandon Rozzell and Ed Nixon a camera to use during graduation. Special guest appearances in this video by Larry Sanders, Shaka Smart, Anthony Grant, Darius Theus, the back of Troy Daniels’ head and others.

RULE OF (THE) THREE

Leave a comment

Bradford Burgess has hit 13-of-22 3-point attempts (.591) in five NCAA Tournament games.

RICHMOND, Va. – I have to confess, “You live by the three, you die by the three,” might be my most-hated sports cliché. What does that even mean? Will excessive long-range shooting spark the ire of wild dogs? Will the hoisting of triples unleash marauding Vikings?

I get it. If a team forgets about the inside game and focuses too heavily on “low percentage” shots, it’ll be in trouble when a shooting slump takes hold. I suppose that’s correct, that balance is best. But – and this is the 12-year-old pretending to be Mark Price version of myself talking – isn’t this way more fun?

VCU’s five-game blitz to the NCAA Final Four has been fueled, in part, by impressive 3-point shooting. The Rams have hit 44 percent (53-of-121) from long range in the tournament. In wins over Georgetown, Florida State and Kansas, VCU knocked down 12 3-pointers. The Rams’ previous season-best had been 11, reached 10 times. Against top-seeded Kansas, the Rams hit 9-of-11 3-pointers in the first half and built an 18-point cushion on the way to a 71-61 victory.

That’s not to say that VCU hasn’t been productive in other areas. In the tournament, the opposition is shooting 39 percent from the field, including 23 percent from 3-point range. The Rams also hold a plus-4.0 turnover margin, so defense has been a big part of the equation. But on offense, the talk has been all about the three.

More

RAMS SOAK IT IN NEWFOUND ATTENTION, SHARPEN FOCUS

2 Comments

RICHMOND, Va. – Brandon Rozzell had to leave his biology lab a few minutes early Tuesday. After speaking with his professor, he made his way towards the door. As he did, the class gave him a standing ovation. It’s safe to say things are different here than a week ago.

The VCU campus may look the same, but it’s been changed by the men’s basketball team’s remarkable run to the Sweet 16. The Rams defeated USC, Georgetown and Purdue in convincing fashion last week to earn a Southwest Region quarterfinal matchup with Florida State on Friday in San Antonio. Seeded 11th in their region, the Rams have become the Cinderella story of March Madness, energizing VCU’s downtown campus. VCU returned from Chicago on Sunday evening and the response on campus and in the media has been unprecedented.

“It’s been great,” said senior Ed Nixon. “Ram Nation. Love them. People have been honking horns on our way to class and just congratulating us. It’s been great.”

By the time Sports Information Director Scott Day boarded the team bus following VCU’s win over Purdue, he had 30 interview requests. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, that number had ballooned to 129. No one has been spared. Even freshmen Reco McCarter and Heath Houston, who are redshirting and have not appeared in a game this season, have been requested. Players have been bombarded by congratulatory texts and phone calls.

More

Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,637 other followers

%d bloggers like this: