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.

MARLENE STOLLINGS MEDIA MINUTES (MARCH 3)

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The A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship kicks off on Wednesday at the Richmond Coliseum. VCU opens on Thursday at noon against Richmond. On Monday, second-year VCU Coach Marlene Stollings sat down to discuss the tournament.

VIDEO: WBB STAGES STUNNING COMEBACK

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The VCU Women’s Basketball team trailed St. Bonaventure by as many as 17 points in the first half Wednesday night and was still chasing 14 points at halftime. What did they end up doing? Winning by 17, naturally. VCU shot 46 percent (15-of-33) and hit six threes in the second half and turned the Bonnies – a 20-win squad – over 24 times in a 74-57 win. With that victory, the Rams improved to 20-6 overall, the sixth 20-win season in program history and the first since 2009-10. VCU is already nine wins better than last season. VCU (8-6) is also still very much alive for a top-4 seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament.

LATE-BLOOMER: FRESHMAN THORPE A FINE SURPRISE FOR VCU

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Isis Thorpe is VCU's highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

Isis Thorpe is VCU’s highest-scoring freshman since Quanitra Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

VCU freshman guard Isis Thorpe has always been a bit of an independent spirit. In high school, she loved the piano sections of the K-Ci & JoJo hit “All My Life” so much she decided to take up piano. So she asked her mother for a keyboard and looked up tutorials on YouTube.

“I wanted to play the piano because I just wanted something new,” the Reading, Pa. native says. “I never wanted to be just a basketball player. I always wanted to do other things so I can say I’ve done something else.”

Thorpe later took a piano class as a high school senior, and while she still calls herself a beginner, she can play Christmas songs and some Beethoven, as well as some R&B standards.

Her basketball career has followed a similar plot line. A late-starter, the 5-foot-8 guard learned the game in her own independent way, but has proven to be a quick study. This season, she’s burst onto the scene to become the second-leading scorer for Coach Marlene Stollings’ upstart VCU Women’s Basketball team. Even among Stollings’ ready-made initial VCU recruiting class, Thorpe has managed to stand out.

Thorpe’s outstanding debut campaign isn’t just a nice surprise for the 18-6 Rams, it’s bordering on historic. Thorpe is averaging 12.9 points per game, the most by a VCU freshman since future WNBA pro Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 14.7 during the 2005-06 season, and the most by a true VCU freshman since Rochelle Luckett (12.8) in 1998-99. Hollingsworth eventually scored 1,604 points in a VCU uniform, which ranks third in school history. Luckett is fifth with 1,483. Thorpe also ranks fourth in the A-10 in 3-pointers per game (2.5). Her 60 triples are already the sixth-most in school single-season history.

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VIDEO: RAMS HAMMER UMASS 112-54

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VCU Women’s Basketball opened Atlantic 10 Conference play Thursday night and boy, did they open. The Rams thrashed UMass 112-54 and set records for most points in a game, most points in a half (62) and most 3-pointers (14). It was as thorough a beating as you can administer. It was also a school-record 12th straight win for Marlene Stollings’ club. The Rams are now 13-1 and head to Duquesne on Saturday.

 

VIDEO: VCU RIPS FAMU, MOVES TO 10-1

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HIGHLIGHTS!

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POSTGAME

VIDEO: VCU DEFEATS MANHATTAN

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HIGHLIGHTS

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POSTGAME

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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SUMMER PROGRAM FASTTRACKS CAREER-MINDED WILLIAMS

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VCU senior guard Zakia Williams (second from left) at the graduation and awards ceremony for Henrico County's Basic Student Jailor Program earlier this month.

VCU senior guard Zakia Williams (second from left) at the graduation and awards ceremony for Henrico County’s Basic Student Jailor Program earlier this month.

RICHMOND, Va. – Bill Cosby once wrote a book called “Congratulations! Now what?”, which doled out postgraduate wisdom, laced with the comedian’s trademark humor, to college graduates. It’s said that there’s a little bit of truth in every joke, and Cosby’s cheeky title is a good example. Graduation can be an exciting time, but many students aren’t prepared to navigate life after the diploma.

But Zakia Williams doesn’t plan on being another rudderless graduate. She’s already planning ahead. This summer, the VCU senior guard took an important step towards a smooth “real world” transition. A Criminal Justice major, Williams was recently deputized through a joint program between VCU and the Henrico County Sheriff’s Department called the “Basic Jailor Student Academy”.

The nine-week program trained and certified VCU Criminal Justice upperclassmen in a number of areas, including firearms, mental health, defensive tactics and CPR. In its third year, the program was developed by Henrico Sheriff and VCU graduate Michael Wade in 2010 as a way to reduce overtime costs and prepare Criminal Justice majors for their careers. Students who complete the program are certified and eligible for part-time employment in the county’s corrections system.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for me because ultimately that’s what I want to do. I want to work in corrections,” said Williams, a native of Columbus, Ga.

There was plenty of upside in the program, but there was also a catch.

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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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