VCU Baseball hosts Richmond at The Diamond for a three-game set to close the regular season. The series starts Thursday at 6 p.m., followed by an 11 a.m. contest on Friday and a 10:30 a.m. tilt on Saturday. The Rams (25-26) still have a mathematical shot at playing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, so there’s more than just city bragging rights at stake.
May 16, 2013
March 7, 2013
March 7, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – College basketball is broken? Scoring is down? The game is boring? Soft bubble? Too many upsets? I think some of these stodgy columnists need some Havoc therapy.
This year, more than any in recent memory, college basketball has faced parroted calls for a fix.
“Make this game more fun! Entertain us! Too many upsets. Too many guys leaving college early.”
Maybe I’m not qualified to assess the state of Division I basketball. I drive a Pontiac – a car brand which no longer exists – and own a total of two suit jackets, so, probably not. Maybe hoops is “broken”, maybe it’s not. I’m just wondering if these guys are watching what I’m watching. Have you seen VCU? Have you sampled the fruit of the breakneck, devil-may-care style of play that is only churning out turnovers and entertainment value at a faster rate than it is producing victories?
From where I’m sitting, college hoops looks better than ever.
January 25, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Let’s take this opportunity to tip our cap to the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule-makers. Some might decry the short Thursday-Saturday turnaround, but this week the Rams will welcome the opportunity to get back to basketball.
In football, ESPN has an entire week to overanalyze why Tim Tebow didn’t run more than four snaps in the wildcat. There are six days between games to stew on a loss, eight if you live on Skip Bayless’ planet. Baseball players are pretty lucky in this respect. Whatever horror Tuesday wreaks, the sun will come up Wednesday and bring another ballgame with a chance for redemption.
That’s why VCU (16-4, 4-1 A-10) should be happy about Saturday’s game against La Salle at the Verizon Wireless Arena, which will tip less than 48 hours after the Rams heartbreaking 82-74 overtime loss to Richmond. That’s not a lot of opportunity to irrationally dissect the season. It’s human nature to act like this, but a quick turnaround affords a chance to turn the page. It’s a long season, and one loss is just that. So the Rams aren’t going to sweep the A-10 season. Other than that, what did we learn? That VCU is pretty unlucky when it comes to the opposition heaving desperation 28-foot 3-pointers with less than two seconds remaining on the road on weekdays against players whose names begin with a consonant? Terrific. Next!
“We’ve just got to move on quick and get ready for Saturday,” junior Rob Brandenberg said Thursday night. “We play in less than 48 hours. We’ll be able to do something about it then.”
In my seven previous seasons covering the Rams, six ended with some type of postseason, including four NCAA tournaments. All seven years included at least 19 wins; In essence, seven great seasons. In those seven years, I’ve seen the Rams lose at the buzzer at George Mason (on Valentine’s Day) and to a bad James Madison team (which led then-JMU Coach Dean Keener to commandeer the PA mic and blast some adrenaline-fueled plea for more fan support into the rafters — it didn’t work, by the way).
There have been head-scratching losses at Hampton, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary, East Carolina, Western Michigan and Towson. This year’s Richmond team is better than any from that quintet. Each loss caused us to obsess about basketball minutiae. We felt the same after each loss as do when we learn that Carson Daly still has a TV show: angry and disappointed, with an overriding desire to drive to Connecticut.
Look, by March, those games were long forgotten because the Rams picked themselves up and got back to work at Franklin Street Gym. They turned the page. Heck, in VCU’s Final Four season, the Rams lost at a sub-par South Florida team and were thumped at Richmond. It’s college basketball. It happens. Duke was absolutely pulverized by Miami (Fla.) the other night. And, as much as I enjoy piling on Duke (never gets old), the Blue Devils are still a very good basketball team; maybe the best team in the country. That doesn’t change.
La Salle, which just stunned ninth-ranked Butler Wednesday, doesn’t care what VCU did at Richmond Thursday, so the Rams shouldn’t either. They need to be ready to guard the peach baskets at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
The A-10 is an incredibly competitive league. The championship teams don’t always avoid a tough road loss – it happens to nearly every one – but they don’t let Wednesday’s (Thursday, in this case) loss beat them Saturday.
“We’re in good position,” VCU Coach Shaka Smart said. “We could’ve been in better position. It is what it is though. We’ve got to move on. I think emotionally, there are ups and downs, highs and lows to any season. We’ve had a lot of highs of late. The Saint Joe’s game we were on the flipside. We were down late and obviously we came back and forced overtime and won. So, it’s the maturity of the team and the guys on the team that’s going to dictate how you’re going to move on.”
Cue the Silver Bullet Band.
January 24, 2013
January 24, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – For a night, battle lines are drawn somewhere around Staples Mill Road. It’s West End versus Downtown when Richmond and VCU meet on the basketball court.
“I remember when I got the job here, several people came up to me and told me, I don’t care how you do all season, except you’ve got to beat Old Dominion and Richmond, and so I never forgot when they said that,” recalled VCU Coach Shaka Smart Tuesday.
In recent years, as both programs have risen to national prominence – VCU’s Final Four run in 2011 cemented its status, while Richmond’s Sweet 16 berth the same year did the same – so too has this long-running rivalry.
It’s always been a contentious fight, but lately, the stars have aligned to add flavor to this rivalry. In addition to each school’s NCAA tournament success, 19th-ranked VCU (16-3, 4-0 A-10) and Richmond (12-7, 2-2 A-10) are conference foes once again this season. A win is worth more than local bragging rights. It can alter the course of the Atlantic 10 Conference race.
Fans on both sides of the rivalry cast their stones annually, sometimes enough to whip players and coaches into the fervor. Smart said recently that in past years, players like Joey Rodriguez, known for his penchant for absorbing Internet chatter, and Richmond-native Brandon Rozzell enjoyed the buzz around town for games like this.
June 5, 2012
Men's Basketball A-10, A-10 Basketball, A-10 Hoops, Atlantic 10, Atlantic 10 Basketball, Butler Bulldogs, Dayton Flyers, Fordham Rams, George Washington Colonials, LaSalle Explorers, Phil Martelli, Richmond Spiders, Saint Joseph's Hawks, UMass Minutemen Leave a comment
Last year, this would’ve been just another Tuesday in June at VCU Athletics HQ. Instead, the Atlantic 10 (16!) released men’s basketball home and road opponents for each school Tuesday, sending the Twitterverse into a type of frenzy normally reserved for March Madness and Kate Middleton.
In a 16-team league, VCU wasn’t going to get every team on its wish list at home. There’s only 16 games with which to see the league, eight of them on the road. How did the Rams do? In terms of Buzz Factor, pretty good.
The Rams will partner and play home and home with Richmond. That was essentially a given. After that, the only thing anybody cared about was which teams were coming to the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, sponsored by Goody’s, McDonald’s, M&M’s and Nationwide, brought to you by Gatorade?
Here’s who will be visiting: Butler, Dayton, Fordham, George Washington, LaSalle, UMass, Richmond and Saint Joseph’s. That’s a pretty good slate right there. Butler, Dayton, UMass and Saint Joe’s all have varying degrees of name-recognition.
This is my quickie “must-see” meter for VCU’s A-10 home dates:
December 10, 2011
Men's Basketball Bradford Burgess, Briante Weber, Cedrick Lindsay, Chris Mooney, Darien Brothers, Darius Theus, Darrius Garrett, Juvonte Reddic, Kendall Anthony, Richmond Spiders, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels. Leave a comment
RICHMOND, Va. – Exasperated Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney sat before a throng of reporters shoehorned into the unremarkable media room in the bowels of VCU’s Siegel Center. He sighed as he before he sought to explain what he’d just witnessed. We were obligated to ask, but it didn’t take a perfect SAT score to figure out that VCU’s “Havoc” wreaking defense had just systematically beat the Spiders into submission.
By the time it was over, a close game had dissolved into a 73-51 punchline. Mooney watched helplessly as his normally steady team, which carried a three-game winning streak into Friday’s anticipated matchup, became unhinged in the face of constant VCU pressure.
“I don’t want to think that…but I also know that’s what the pressure’s designed to do,” Mooney said. “It’s designed to wear you down during the course of the game and of course our guards were in there for such a long time. Maybe it was more indicative of the missed shots. I don’t like to think that’s the case, but it very well could have been.”
VCU’s victory Friday came via the best defensive performance to date from a Rams team that’s earning a rep for chaos creation. The evidence was in every corner of the box score.
The previously sure-handed Spiders entered the game averaging just over 11 turnovers a game, but they had 10 in the first half alone and finished the game with 17. Forward Darrius Garrett committed seven turnovers, as many as the entire VCU team combined. Go-Kart guard Kendall Anthony, Richmond’s leading scorer, was 5-of-18 from the field, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range.
December 9, 2011
2011-12 Record: 6-2
Key games: Def. Rutgers 58-53; Def. William & Mary 92-61; Def. Wake Forest 70-62; Lost to Davidson 74-61; Lost to Illinois 70-61
2010-11 Record: 29-8 (13-3 Atlantic 10)
2010-11 RPI: 33
Heckle-worthy: Kendall Anthony, Fr., G (15.4 ppg, 44% 3FG); Cedrick Lindsay, Jr., G (11.5 ppg, 4.4 apg).
The skinny: The similarities between VCU and Richmond are quite interesting. Both are coming off exciting runs deep into the NCAA Tournament. Both teams’ coaches turned down overtures from BCS Conference schools to stay in Richmond. Both squads graduated three starters. Each will also rely heavily on a Benedictine graduate (Darien Brothers) this season.
Returning starters Brothers, a 6-3 sharpshooting guard, and Francis-Cedric Martel, a 6-6 forward (4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) will try to offset the loss of seniors Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper and Dan Geriot, who accounted for 63 percent of the Spiders’ scoring in 2010-11.
VCU fans hope the Rams remember every agonizing second of a 72-60 loss to the Spiders last season. Despite the 12-point final margin, anybody who watched the game knows it wasn’t even remotely that close.
Like VCU, the Spiders are led by strong guard play. Anthony is 5-feet-8, 140-pounds of instant offense. The Tennessee native recently dropped 21 points on Wake Forest and is shooting 44 percent (16-of-36) from 3-point range. Brothers and Lindsay are also dangerous. Sophomore Derrick Williams (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) leads the frontcourt.
Richmond’s matchup zone gave the Rams fits last season, and the Spiders look effective on defense again this year. Opponents are shooting 37 percent from the field, including 28 percent from three. UR is not a particularly good rebounding team (-3.5 margin), but the Spiders are sound with the ball (11.5 TO/pg).
About Richmond: The school opened a “disc golf” (read: Frisbee golf) course earlier this year, “to promote leisurely activity”. This is similar to my decision to open a horseshoe pit in the back yard and call it “equestrian studies”.
Fast fact: Harper, who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 32nd overall pick in the NBA Draft in June (later traded to the Orlando Magic), ranked second in the A-14 last year in 3-point shooting (.448) – as a 6-10 forward.
December 9, 2011
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU senior Bradford Burgess can distinctly recall the last time he trailed by 30 points in a game, prior to last season’s 72-60 loss to Richmond.
“Never in my career have I ever been down 30,” Burgess said with a hint of disbelief even now, a year later.
Nonetheless, a very good VCU team – some would argue the school’s best ever – found itself down 49-19 to the Spiders with nearly 18 minutes remaining on Dec. 11 at the Robins Center. VCU had dominated the Spiders to the tune of six straight victories in the series, but Richmond attacked the Rams on defense with aggression and fury.
It was 7-0 before the Rams broke a sweat. By the time Burgess scored VCU’s first field goal, nearly nine minutes into the game, it was obvious the Spiders were fed up with losing to the Rams. It was never a game. Despite the final margin, the game was never truly close.
“They just wanted it more,” Burgess said. “They just dominated from start to finish.”
By March, most VCU players and fans had put the stench of the Richmond loss in behind them as the Rams stormed to the Final Four. Both schools were seeded in the Southwest Region of the NCAA Tournament and could have met, if not for Kansas dismantling the Spiders in the Elite Eight. Two days later, the Rams toppled Kansas and buried the memories of the Richmond debacle, and pretty much every other misstep from the regular season, with it.