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.

SHULER CONTINUES TO SHUUUUT FOR NBA

Leave a comment

Former Ram Jamal Shuler, pictured last season with French team Nancy, is still chasing the NBA.

Former Ram Jamal Shuler, pictured last season with French team Nancy, is still chasing the NBA.

RICHMOND, Va. – Unless you’re a dedicated NBA fan, you probably don’t know who Chris Copeland is, and you probably don’t know that after a breakout rookie season with the New York Knicks, that he signed a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers.

But Jamal Shuler knows all about it.

After five seasons playing professionally in Germany and France, the former VCU star knows that if Copeland – a former teammate in Germany – can make it to the NBA, then maybe he can too. The 27-year-old Shuler says the success of Copeland, who played for four teams in Europe, as well as the NBA D-League, will serve as inspiration. The same goes for a guy like former Towson star Gary Neal, who Shuler played against while at VCU. Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before signing with the San Antonio Spurs three years ago and has become one of the best shooters in the league.

So if you ask Shuler if he still has a fire in his belly to someday play in the NBA, he won’t hesitate.

“There definitely is, man. There definitely is,” he says.

Shuler’s desire to play in the NBA is one of the reasons you can find him back on the VCU campus every summer. In addition to his work in the weight room, Shuler, who lives in the Richmond area in the offseason, works out and plays pickup games with an impressive group of pros and former Rams at Franklin Street Gym. Eric Maynor has been a fixture in the games for years, as have former Rams B.A. Walker, Brandon Rozzell and a host of others. This summer, Reggie Williams of the Charlotte Bobcats is said to have been involved. It’s that type of training environment that Shuler says will keep his dream alive.

More

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.

DANIELS AIMS TO OPEN NBA EYES

1 Comment

VCU senior Troy Daniels will work out for NBA scouts May 22-23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

VCU senior Troy Daniels will work out for NBA scouts May 22-23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

RICHMOND, Va. – Troy Daniels made a career out of connecting on long shots. So what’s one more?

Daniels has been invited to an NBA workout May 22-23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Representatives from all 30 NBA teams are expected to attend.

“It’s time to get a job now. This is a lot different than college,” Daniels said Thursday. “It’s a great feeling. “It’s something that you dream about when you’re younger and it’s finally coming true now.”

Despite his sharpshooting credentials – Daniels ranks second in school history in 3-pointers (251) and owns the top two single season marks – the senior from Roanoke, Va. likely faces an uphill battle. He’s currently not expected to be drafted and is not listed among the top 100 NBA prospects by NBADraftExpress.com, NBADraft.net or CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman.

But Daniels, who will graduate from VCU Saturday with a degree in criminal justice, says that won’t be a deterrent. He’s says he’s been working out twice a day, fine-tuning his skills and hopes to grab the attention of scouts and executives in Brooklyn. He’s also recently worked out with former Ram Eric Maynor of the Portland Trail Blazers, who typically spends much of his offseason in Richmond.

More

RAMS IN THE PROS: SANDERS SURGES

1 Comment

Former Ram Larry Sanders (center) is averaging 8.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game this season.

Former Ram Larry Sanders (center) is averaging 8.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game this season.

It looks like Larry Sanders is starting to figure out this NBA thing.

The 24-year-old former VCU star and current Milwaukee Buck is enjoying a breakout season. Selected 15th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, Sanders is beginning to deliver on the promise Milwaukee saw on film and in workouts.

Through a quarter of the season, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound center was averaging career-highs of 8.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Sanders is shooting 54 percent from the floor, and as of this writing, his 3.0 blocks per game average was tied for the league lead.

Last season, Sanders averaged just 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. But a strong preseason and training camp earned him increased playing time from Bucks’ Coach Scott Skiles. Sanders responded with 10 points and seven rebounds in an opening-night victory over the Boston Celtics.

On Nov. 30, Sanders recorded his first career triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in a loss at Minnesota. His 10 blocks tied the franchise record, set by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar later took to Twitter to congratulate Sanders.

Sanders followed with 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against the Celtics the next night.

More

DANIELS, HAVOC GO ‘FAIRLEIGH RIDICULOUS’ IN WIN

Leave a comment

Senior Troy Daniels (pictured right, shooting) set a VCU single-game record with nine 3-pointers Saturday.

Senior Troy Daniels (pictured right, shooting) set a VCU single-game record with nine 3-pointers Saturday.

RICHMOND, Va. – In a few days, we’ll close the book on 2012 and turn the page to a new year with new hopes, new goals and new dreams. But they might have to drag Troy Daniels into 2013 kicking and screaming.

Daniels capped his torrid December by stroking a school-record nine 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 27 points in Saturday’s 96-67 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. After a pedestrian 4-of-10 start from beyond the arc, Daniels kicked into high gear, hitting five of his last six, including four straight in the final three minutes, to break Bo Jones’ 13-year-old VCU single-game mark. Daniels originally tied the record with eight triples Dec. 7 at Old Dominion.

This month has been, by far, the best of Daniels’ career. In his last five games, Daniels has averaged 19.9 points and shot .500 (30-of-60) from 3-point range. Daniels has scored at least 24 points in three of those contests.

It hasn’t been so much the flipping of a switch that has turned Daniels into a “must-watch” shooter the last five games as it has been the result of a cumulative effort. It’s been hours at Franklin Street Gym late at night with Assistant Coach Jeremy Ballard, loads of film study, and pep talks with Coach Shaka Smart. Sooner or later, the dam was going to break and allow the river that is Daniels’ sweet shooting stroke to flow freely. It appears we’ve reached that point.

“I’m happy for Troy,” Smart said Saturday. “He’s a guy that’s put a lot of extra work in, a lot of extra hours where it was just him and a manager in the gym and it’s paying off for him.”

More

NO SURPRISES: LONGWOOD NOTEBOOK

Leave a comment

Senior Troy Daniels hit seven 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 25 points in Friday's win.

Senior Troy Daniels hit seven 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 25 points in Friday’s win.

RICHMOND, Va. – The Rams can move onto their holiday break with clear heads. VCU did what it was supposed to do in Friday’s 93-56 throttling of Longwood. There were no surprises, just a comfortable win where the Rams played to their ability.

The Rams kept the pedal to the medal, stomping out any fears of a lackluster performance and/or an overlooked opponent. In recent years, despite lesser opponents, that hasn’t always been the case in VCU’s last game before Christmas.

But rather than look ahead to Christmas ham and family time, VCU took care of business. The Rams scored the first nine points of the game and were up 19 by halftime. Although Longwood shot 44 percent in the first half, the Rams also forced 13 turnovers.

Whatever flaws VCU had on the defensive end in the first half were cleared up in the second when the Rams used a 17-0 run over an eight-minute stretch to turn the game into a 76-40 laugher. From there, it was all academic.

Senior Darius Theus, who finished with five points, five steals and nine assists, said the Rams were able to block out potential distractions.

“I think it’s hard for a lot of teams, but I think coming in and being ready to play separates good teams from okay teams, and I feel out approach was real good tonight,” Theus said. “Even though guys are excited about going home and being with their family, we only had one thing in mind. That was getting this win tonight.”

More

WE WERE MERELY FRESHMEN

Leave a comment

Larry Sanders averaged 4.9 points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman in 2007-08

They say youth is wasted on the young. I just think those of us in the post-30 crowd hate that The Jersey Shore has taken over MTV. When I was a college freshman, I could run a sub-5:00 mile, sleep three hours a night and had great hair (true story). Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, and I didn’t care.  The experience, one painful lesson at a time, was all worth it. It made me better personally and professionally (at least, that’s what I’m going with).

There are six freshmen on this year’s VCU Men’s Basketball team. Statistically speaking, the Rams are the 10th-youngest team in the country. They’re all great basketball players. They wouldn’t be here otherwise. But there are going to be mistakes, plenty of youthful mistakes. Enough to cause Shaka Smart to lose some of his hair…wait…let’s move on.

The point here is that these guys are all great talents, it’s just a matter of getting the best out of them. It’s going to take time. You’ll see it some nights and others you might shake your head. It’s rare to find a guy ahead of the curve, who can come in and dominate right away. Just like I didn’t come in and just dominate the blogging game. It took years of experience to be this awesome.

More

FORMER RAMS RETURN TO VCU FOR SUMMER WORKOUTS

2 Comments

Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,637 other followers

%d bloggers like this: