August 18, 2011
Joey Rodriguez is headed to Istanbul, Turkey to play professional basketball. I asked him today which team, but he couldn’t pronounce it. I’ll just wait for the press release in Turkish.
July 14, 2011
May 23, 2011
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.
May 3, 2011
Don’t let anybody tell you that Joey Rodriguez can’t multitask.
Just to give you a taste, here’s how Rodriguez’s week looks, from Sunday, May 1 through this Saturday, May 7:
Sunday, May 1: One night after scoring nine points in a win for San German of the Puerto Rican professional basketball league, the BSN, Rodriguez flew back to Richmond, Va. and continued to prepare for final exams.
Monday, May 2: Rodriguez estimates he spent about six hours in tutoring sessions and working on final projects. Rodriguez is scheduled to graduate at the end of May with a degree in criminal justice.
Tuesday, May 3: Class, plus interview with some hack blogger.
Wednesday, May 4: Class and VCU Senior Awards Banquet.
Thursday, May 5: His girlfriend, Ciera, is 21 weeks pregnant. On Thursday morning, they will find out the sex of the baby. At 5 p.m. that evening, Rodriguez will be a guest at the White House for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Friday, May 6: Joey has a 7 a.m. flight to Puerto Rico and will play in a game later that evening. On Saturday, he will fly back to Richmond.
Got all that? That’s a tad different from your average college senior’s schedule. My senior year consisted of waking up at noon, locating lunch and then happy hour. Senioritis was in full effect by spring. I sprinkled in some class here and there.
“It’s been fun. It’s tiring,” Rodriguez says, matter-of-factly. “I’ve got a pregnant girlfriend I’m trying to take care of. I’m trying to make her and then deal with school and then play in Puerto Rico.”
Rodriguez has been going like this for weeks. Just three days after the NCAA Tournament ended for VCU, Rodriguez was in Los Angeles as a guest on Lopez Tonight, George Lopez’s late night talk show.
When San German drafted Rodriguez in April, he told the team that he’d have to finish up school first. But the team told him they could fly him down on the weekends for games. So far, the nutty schedule means that Rodriguez has played in more games (three) than practices (two). In those three games, Rodriguez has averaged 8.0 points and 1.7 assists in 12.3 minutes per game.
San German is located in southwestern Puerto Rico, about an hour and a half from San Juan. The BSN season runs from March through July, so Rodriguez also hopes to play in Europe in August.
“It’s a good league. It’s not easy,” Rodriguez said. “It’s more Americanized basketball…so it’s up and down, which fits me perfect. It’s going to help me get ready for Europe too because you’re playing against grown men.”
Rodriguez is also a teammate of former Ram Jesse Pellot-Rosa. Although they never played on the same team – Pellot-Rosa’s final season was 2006-07, a year before Rodriguez’s arrival – they know each other well. Pellot-Rosa frequently works out at VCU in the offseason. In Puerto Rico, Rodriguez has been living across the street from Pellot-Rosa, and the two former Rams have been hanging out together.
“It’s the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” Rodriguez said. “He’s over there and we hang out every day.”
Meanwhile, graduation is set for May 21. Rodriguez says he will be there.
May 3, 2011
I guess you can have your ice cream and cake and eat it too.
I had Joey Rodriguez and Ed Nixon stop by the office today for a couple of projects I’m working on right now. This story came up, but it’s not necessarily something I’m going to use elsewhere.
When VCU went to Norfolk to play Old Dominion during the 2009-10 season, the Monarchs pulled away late for the win. Many believe it’s no coincidence that ODU’s “Ice Cream and Cake” song plays during the under four minute media timeout of the second half and that the Monarchs often close well at home. ODU certainly did that day, turning a 68-66 VCU lead into a 73-70 Monarch victory in the final 3:08.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose noticed the correlation. Last summer, he had the Rams lifting weights to “Ice Cream and Cake”. When the Rams faced ODU in Norfolk on Feb. 12, they were ready. VCU was holding a 52-50 lead when the final media timeout came with 3:11 left. Cue “Ice Cream and Cake”, which normally sends the home crowd into a frenzy (although nobody really can understand why). This time, the Rams were unfazed.
“We were dancing in the huddle,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think Coach Smart even said anything.”
“When they played it, I think that it helped us more than it helped them,” Nixon said.
Nixon’s argument appears to hold water. The Rams outscored ODU 7-0 the rest of the way in a 59-50 victory.
April 3, 2011
The word document is more than 115 pages long and literally includes thousands of quotes, some inspirational, some thought-provoking, from luminaries throughout history. But it started with one simple quote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” from a John Keats poem.
When Smart gave me that quote back in August for a story I was writing, I didn’t give it much thought. Today, those words really hit home. VCU’s NCAA Tournament run, which included five wins over BCS conference schools, was a thing of beauty. I hope that when the sting of Saturday’s loss fades, that people can appreciate the gravity of what transpired the last three weeks. From a lightly-regarded bubble team that was trashed on ESPN, to America’s sweethearts, it’s been truly magical.
April 1, 2011
HOUSTON, Tex. – You know it’s going to be a good press conference when the first question directed at VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart is, “Are you out of your mind?”
Moments earlier, Smart was throwing his body all over the basketball court at Reliant Stadium, much to the delight of a crowd of thousands, assembled to watch Friday’s Final Four open practices. They roared as Smart and his coaching staff participated in something they call, “The Iron Man Drill”, which asks that the participant take a charge under the basket, get up, dive on the floor for a loose ball, then gather themselves to save a ball careening out of bounds to a teammate. When Smart completed the drill, he was mobbed by his players and coaches.
CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz, who will call the Final Four, commented during a post-practice interview – broadcast throughout the stadium – that he’d never seen a team display such exuberance during the open practice. Kentucky, which followed the Rams onto the practice court, only affirmed Nantz’s observation by spending a chunk of its practice session quitely shooting free throws.
During VCU’s Final Four run, Smart has maintained that he stresses that the Rams remain aggressive, confident and loose (ACL) and Friday’s open practice did nothing to make anyone believe otherwise.
March 31, 2011
By their own admission, Jamie Skeen and Joey Rodriguez, two centerpieces of VCU’s Final Four run, probably shouldn’t even be here. Each wrestled with his emotions before making the decision for which VCU fans will be forever grateful, to be – or stay – a Ram.
Rodriguez’s internal struggle has been well-documented. Following the departure of former Head Coach Anthony Grant to Alabama, in 2008, Rodriguez actually announced that he was going to transfer to Rollins College. However, spurred by phone calls from his teammates, Rodriguez decided to return to VCU. Last week, following the Rams’ victory over Purdue, I asked him whether or not he had thought about what could’ve happened, had he never returned to the fold.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about it,” Rodriguez said. “Yeah, I could be playing in front of 200 people right now.”
On Saturday, he’ll be suiting up for the Rams at Reliant Stadium, which had a capacity of over 75,000 for basketball.
March 29, 2011
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.