MOONEY PIES? SHAKA SMARTFOOD?

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Ewoks love BBQ.

Ewoks love BBQ.

On April 17 at 6 p.m., Shaka Smart and Chris Mooney will start their ovens and square off in what can only be billed as the most important basketball-themed culinary showdown in Richmond this spring, the 2014 Coaches’ Cook-Off, which will be held at the Science Museum of Richmond.

So as not to bury the lede, the competition will benefit Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe, a terrific organization which trains people with disabilities to work in the food service industry. So if you have an opportunity to attend this great event, please consider it. Find out more, including how to purchase tickets, here.

I’ve got to give Mooney credit. Shaka Smart already owns three wins over the Richmond coach this year, but he’s back for more. Despite his track record, don’t expect Smart to take this match-up lightly. I know for a fact he’s been dissecting film of “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” this entire week.

VCU Video Coordinator Dwight Perry says Smart has been working around the clock to prepare for the kitchen showdown.

“I spent all of last night cutting risotto clips. Today, it’s chutney. I didn’t even know what chutney was until yesterday,” said Perry, clutching a 64-ounce espresso. “Two days ago, he kept screaming ‘Havoc!’ throughout an entire episode of ‘Barefoot Contessa’. He’s totally dialed in right now.”

As of press time, rumors that Guy Fieri interviewed this week for the open position on Smart’s staff, vacated when Mike Rhoades accepted the job at Rice (coincidence? I think not), remain unconfirmed.

In the competition, Smart and Mooney will each team with a chef to create dishes that will be rated by a panel of judges. Mooney edged Smart last year in this competition, but I love Shaka’s squad this time around. He’s teaming up with Buz Grossberg of Buz and Ned’s BBQ. Seriously. Just call it off now. Shaka is nearly unbeatable when paired with BBQ. I checked with men’s basketball SID Scott Day for Smart’s record when barbequing.

“What is wrong with you,” Day replied via a tersely worded text message.

It should be fun. I’m expecting laughter, tears, joy, exasperation, triumph and cole slaw. I hope you can make it.

2013 COACHES’ COOK-OFF

VIDEO: RAMS OUTRUN RICHMOND & OTHER BONUSES

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VIDEO: RICHMOND PREVIEW

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RELENTLESS RAMS ESTABLISHING DEFENSIVE PERSONA

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VCU's Havoc defense forced 17 turnovers Friday.

RICHMOND, Va. – Exasperated Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney sat before a throng of reporters shoehorned into the unremarkable media room in the bowels of VCU’s Siegel Center. He sighed as he before he sought to explain what he’d just witnessed. We were obligated to ask, but it didn’t take a perfect SAT score to figure out that VCU’s “Havoc” wreaking defense had just systematically beat the Spiders into submission.

By the time it was over, a close game had dissolved into a 73-51 punchline. Mooney watched helplessly as his normally steady team, which carried a three-game winning streak into Friday’s anticipated matchup, became unhinged in the face of constant VCU pressure.

“I don’t want to think that…but I also know that’s what the pressure’s designed to do,” Mooney said. “It’s designed to wear you down during the course of the game and of course our guards were in there for such a long time. Maybe it was more indicative of the missed shots. I don’t like to think that’s the case, but it very well could have been.”

VCU’s victory Friday came via the best defensive performance to date from a Rams team that’s earning a rep for chaos creation. The evidence was in every corner of the box score.

The previously sure-handed Spiders entered the game averaging just over 11 turnovers a game, but they had 10 in the first half alone and finished the game with 17. Forward Darrius Garrett committed seven turnovers, as many as the entire VCU team combined. Go-Kart guard Kendall Anthony, Richmond’s leading scorer, was 5-of-18 from the field, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range.

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DIMINUTIVE ANTHONY A TALL ORDER FOR VCU

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Guard Kendall Anthony is averaging 15.4 points per game for Richmond this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – Once again, the scouting report on Richmond’s basketball team will be headlined by an undersized, agile, score-first point guard with the initials K.A.

Spider great Kevin Anderson and his 2,000 career points are not on Richmond’s team this season, but 5-foot-8, 140-pound freshman Kendall Anthony is, and he’s doing a pretty good Anderson impersonation this season.

Through eight games, Anthony has been splendid for the Spiders, averaging a team-leading 15.4 points in 24.0 minutes per game off the bench. The runner-up for Tennessee Mr. Basketball last season, Anthony has posted two 20-point games, including 21 his last time out at Wake Forest. He’s shooting 44 percent (16-of-36) from 3-point range.

Richmond is coming off back-to-back NCAA appearances, including last year’s Sweet 16 berth, but the Spiders were thought to be rebuilding. Richmond, much like VCU, lost three critical senior starters.

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FLOORED

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I have a bottle of sand from Panama City Beach, Fla. from when I went on spring break in college. My wife hates the thing, but I always get a chuckle out of seeing it because it reminds me of one crazy week. I can’t really talk about any of that here, but I assure you, it was a good time.

In that vein, SportsQuest has brought the floor from the Southwest Regional to Richmond. This is the same floor on which the Rams defeated Florida State and Kansas to reach the Final Four. For VCU fans it might as well be made of solid gold. Both Shaka Smart and Richmond Coach Chris Mooney were at SportsQuest recently to celebrate its arrival. The word on the street is that each school will get a portion of the floor to display. I have no details on this, but I’ll try to find out more.

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