VIDEO: VCU TOPS RICHMOND IN A-10 FIRST ROUND

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VCU beats Richmond for the second time this season to advance to the A-10 quarterfinals. The Rams will meet top seed Dayton Friday at noon at the Coliseum.

FURY-OUS RAMS STORM TO 9-1 START

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Marlene Stollins' VCU club is off to a 9-1 start this season.

Marlene Stollins’ VCU club is off to a 9-1 start this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – Marlene Stollings rebranded her VCU Women’s Basketball program over the summer. Although she toyed with the term “High Octane” at times during her first year as VCU coach, she christened her program “The Fury”, a name which draws from same kinetic roots as Shaka Smart’s “Havoc”.

While The Fury has some undeniable marketing panache, the makeover appears to have been more than cosmetic.

With a convincing 85-64 victory over Manhattan Wednesday afternoon, Stollings, the Rams and Fury moved to 9-1 this season. It’s just the third 9-1 start in school history, and VCU’s current eight-game winning streak is the second-best for the program. Last season, Stollings’ first at the helm of the VCU program, the Rams finished 11-19.

Like Havoc, Fury equates to high-energy basketball. Not only do the Rams pressure the ball to the tune of 23 turnovers per game – they forced 25 Wednesday – but Stollings’ blender offense is perpetually set on liquify. The Rams attack the lane and kick out for 3-pointers with abandon. In ten games this year, the Rams are averaging 80.8 points and 27 three-point attempts per game. Last season, VCU averaged just 59.1 points per game and a little more than 15 three-point tries.

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THE YEAR IN VCU ATHLETICS, FROM A TO Z

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Wrong A-B-C...whatever, close enough.

Wrong A-B-C…whatever, close enough.

June marks the conclusion of the college athletics calendar, and July’s arrival effectively signals the beginning of the 2013-14 season, at least for those of us in the biz, anyway. It all makes this week a good time to reflect back on the year that was in VCU Athletics.

A – is for Atlantic 10 Conference, in which, according to our slogan, the Rams were ‘all-in’. We were also all-in for another season of “Arrested Development” and Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches, so we’re having a good year. VCU competed in the A-10 for the first time in 2012-13, a move that has elevated the program’s national profile. The Rams’ first A-10 title came via the women’s tennis squad, followed by a men’s tennis crown days later. Meanwhile, several other sports (men’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer) reached the league’s championship final.

B – is for the Ball family, one of the driving forces behind the VCU Golf program. They’re like the Kennedy’s of VCU Golf, but with a better short game. Matt Ball may have just completed his 14th season with the Rams, but this one was surely different than the others. That’s because 40 percent of his starting lineup was occupied by sons Adam and Matt Jr. Son Adam, a freshman, led the Rams in scoring average (73.53) this year, while Matt Jr., a junior, placed seventh at the A-10 Championship and was named to the league’s All-Academic Team.

C – is for Courtney Conrad, the alliteratively named star of the women’s soccer team. Conrad led the Rams with 11 goals, including five game-winners, and received All-Mid-Atlantic by the NSCAA.

D – is for Daniels, Troy. If you are a fan of basketball players who score three points at a time (and the signed, obscure Mark Price picture in my dining room proves I am), then you would’ve enjoyed Daniels’ 2012-13 season. In 36 games, Daniels bombed a school-record 124 three-pointers, including games of 11, nine and eight.

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THE COMPANY YOU KEEP

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Freshman Jessica Pellechio hit nine 3-pointers in VCU’s win over UMKC last week.

RICHMOND, Va. – Jessica Pellechio hit nine 3-pointers in a win over UMKC on Nov. 20, but she might be surprised to learn that she’s not even the record-holder in her own locker room. Rams’ Coach Marlene Stollings once drained 10 treys in a game at Ohio University.

Pellechio needn’t fret, she might be the Rams’ best shooter in years. Pellechio, who is averaging 14.0 points per game, has already hit 19 three-pointers in five games and has attempted 56. VCU’s single-season records of 94 made threes and 226 attempts are officially on alert. Last year, Robyn Hobson led the Rams with 25 made threes the entire season.

Pellechio’s emergence is no accident. Stollings says she has to practically throw her out of the gym most days. In addition, the 5-foot-8 guard from Annandale, N.J. has managed to surround herself with some outstanding coaching along the way.

In recent years, the sweet shooting guard has received instruction from the leading scorers in both Ohio and New Jersey high school history, women who rank among the top 25 all-time nationally in girls basketball history.

Since the eighth grade, Pellechio has worked with shooting coach Kristen Somogyi. Somogyi is the leading scorer in New Jersey high school basketball history, girls or boys. She poured in 3,899 points at St. Peter’s High School in New Brunswick from 1989-92, a mark which ranks 10th nationally in girls high school basketball history, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. She later played collegiately at Virginia and Rutgers and currently works as a teacher and AAU coach in the Garden State.

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