BRI-FENSE + DUNK = TOP PLAYS

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Seriously, this is the first play of the game. It was pretty much over after that.

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Photo courtesy Kyle LaFerriere photography (like them on Facebook).

TV PACT GREAT FOR VCU, A-10

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Coming to a television set near you.

You’re going to be seeing a lot more Atlantic 10 Conference basketball in the future.

The league announced Tuesday it has signed a new eight-year television pact (which runs from 2013-14 through 2020-21) with ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS Sports that calls for as many as 71 men’s basketball and 23 women’s basketball games to be broadcast on national television. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the conference’s official press release said the deal, “Provides a significant increase in the Conference’s television rights.”

According to the A-10, this means nearly twice as many men’s contests and 77 percent more women’s games will be shown nationally than in previous years.

It’s great news for VCU, which moved to the A-10 from the Colonial Athletic Association this summer. Had the Rams remained in the CAA, they would be subject to a TV deal that called for a minimum of 12 league games to be carried on NBC Sports Network, but not much more than that. I’m not trying to be critical of the CAA, which was great for VCU for 17 years, but that’s an enormous difference.

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LUNARDI OFFERS “TASTY” SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Mea culpas come in many forms.

For ESPN “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi, that means a batch of Tastykakes. Lunardi delivered the treats, a Philadelphia staple, to Shaka Smart and the VCU locker room prior to Sunday’s game at Drexel. Lunardi was serving as the color analyst for the game for Comcast Sports.

Lunardi’s offered the deserts as a way of telling Smart that he was eating humble pie for criticizing VCU’s inclusion in the NCAA Tournament last season. Prior to one game, Lunardi quipped, “VCU can’t guard me.” The Rams promptly bulldozed Georgetown that night 74-56.

The Philadelphia native was one of several ESPN broadcasters who dogged the Rams in March, only to extend an olive branch after watching VCU shock the nation by reaching the Final Four in Houston, Texas.

Jay Bilas tweeted a photo of him and his family wearing VCU-inspired “Watchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Bilas?” t-shirts, a snapshot that included the family dog dressed in a VCU top and “I love VCU” pin. The photo was rumored to be the family’s holiday card. Bilas even gave a no-name VCU blogger 15 minutes of undivided attention at the Final Four.

Dick Vitale poked fun at himself and a 30-foot banner that read “Eat Crow, Baby” at the Final Four. Vitale and Bilas signed the banner, which originated in Richmond, and offered to auction it off for charity.

Who does that leave? Oh, right. Hubert Davis, you are on the clock.

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