DROVES OF FANS FUEL RAMS IN BROOKLYN

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VCU fans packed Barclays Center last season as the Rams earned a berth into the Championship Game.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – After a few phone calls and some Internet research, I’ve been able to confirm that there is not, in fact, a VCU satellite campus in the New York metropolitan area.

But you’d have a hard time selling that to impartial observers at Barclays Center during last season’s Atlantic 10 Championship. It seemed as if there were Rams fans everywhere. Official numbers are not available, but anybody with a pulse and a ticket last season could’ve told you that VCU fans outnumbered other schools at the tournament by a wide margin.

They were boisterous, backed by VCU’s dynamic pep band, The Peppas, and they were impressive. VCU fans seemed to embrace the experience more fully than perhaps any other league school.

And it wasn’t just at Barclays Center. VCU fans flocked to Brooklyn in droves, flooding the city with black and gold. Die Koelner Bierhall, a German beer hall practically in the shadow of the arena, became the de facto headquarters for Rams fans. The pep band gallivanted around town in a bus wrapped in VCU graphics and the marketing slogan “Havoc Lives Here”. Normally, that means Richmond, but in March, Havoc was highly mobile. The Peppas also shoehorned their way onto the “Today Show”, blaring their eclectic mix of bombastic tunes from atop the bus. And of course, there was Spike Lee.

The extracurricular events were nice, but the real benefit to VCU fans’ willingness to follow the Rams to the Big Apple was on the court. Players may have been focused on playing the game, but they weren’t wearing blinders and earplugs. They saw the sea of humanity. They heard the brass-based rallying cries. And they say it made a difference.

“We can take a deep breath because we’re not just here by ourselves,” says junior guard Briante Weber. “[It’s] a sign of relief when we see people that come out from Richmond to all the way from wherever we are. It just shows how much our fan base follows us and how much they really love to watch us play and we appreciate it.”

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VCU-AKRON REACTION THROUGH TWITTER EYES

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YOUR VCU CELEBRITY STARTING FIVE

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The photo I posted yesterday got a bajillion views, but people noted that I forgot Drake. My bad. He has now been placed among the other great celebrities to don the black and gold. Not a bad starting five, eh? Plenty of size with Snoop and Bilas, Leo was in the “Basketball Diaries”, so I feel okay with him running the point. I feel like Spike Lee would be a mad dog defender at the 2-3 in the mold of Bruce Bowen. Drake, I’m just going to assume he can fill it up at one of the guard spots.

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If you are a celebrity and want to get on board for March, feel free to visit our official VCU team store here.

A-10 CHAMPIONSHIP PHOTOESSAY

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YOUR DAILY SPIKE LEE UPDATE

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Yup. He’s ready.

TRACKING THE SPIKE LEE BEAT

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – If Kentucky can have Ashley Judd and Duke can have Dick Vitale, we here at VCU are certainly entitled to our own superfan. It doesn’t get much better than Spike Lee. After meeting Shaka Smart and the Rams at practice a few weeks ago, Spike has morphed into a VCU backer faster than you can say, “Do the right thing.”

Friday, he sat center court wearing a lime green sweatshirt. He was occasionally vocal. But Saturday, he returned wearing a gold “VCU Rams” longsleeve tee. He was at his Reggie Miller-heckling best, too. At a couple of points, after VCU steals, Lee could be heard shouting “Havoc! Havoc!” It was terrific.

Let’s catch up on the Spike Lee beat, shall we?

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VCU-UMASS HALFTIME UPDATE

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HALFTIME SCORE: VCU 35, UMass 34

Spike Lee returned to courtside for Saturday’s game. He ditched his lime green sweatshirt and wore a gold VCU Rams t-shirt.

Rafael Putney two big blocked shots, one that leads to a three in transition to make it 16-8 UMass.

Cady Lalanne opened the game 4-of-4 from the field for the Minutemen as UMass took a 20-11 lead in the first 10 minutes. However, Lalanne picked up his second foul with 6:21 left in the half.

However, VCU staged a furious comeback behind its defense and long-range shooting. After scoring 15 points in the first 15 minutes, the Rams staged an 11-0 run over the next three minutes. Troy Daniels his three straight 3-pointers to start the run and Briante Weber punctuated the blitz with a steal and tomahawk dunk.

Daniels hit 4-of-5 from deep and scored 12 points to lead the Rams in the first. Weber knocked down 4-of-6 shots and had eight points. Much like Friday, Darius Theus started slow, then scored 10 points as the half drew on.

Lalanne led UMass with 10 points in the first. UMass turned the ball over nine times in the first half, VCU just four.

VCU shot .371 (13-of-35) in the first, including 5-of-11 from three. UMass shot .462 (12-of-26).

THIS IS JUST THE BEST THING EVER

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VCU-SAINT JOSEPH’S HALFTIME NOTES/RAPID REAX

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Score: VCU 33, Saint Joe’s 23

Of note: With Spike Lee courtside rooting for the Rams, VCU stormed out of the gate to a 14-6 lead on the strength of 6-of-9 shooting and six Saint Joseph’s turnovers. The Hawks actually turned the ball over six times in seven possessions at one point.

Early foul trouble was an issue for the Rams. Treveon Graham picked up his second foul at the 11:45 mark of the half and Juvonte Reddic picked up his second a short time later. In their absence, the Rams got important minutes from senior walk-on David Hinton (3) and freshman Justin Tuoyo (4). Although neither player scored, they played sound defensively and kept Saint Joseph’s out of the lane.

Freshman Melvin Johnson, a Bronx native, continued his late-season surge, scoring eight first-half points in front of more than 50 friends and family. Senior Darius Theus led the Rams with nine points in the first, including a high-arching floater off the glass to beat the first half horn.

Although Saint Joseph’s had a 12-5 advantage in fouls, the Hawks were just 8-of-15 at the line. Carl Jones was the only Hawk to score the last nine minutes of the half and had eight points in all.

VCU shot 48 percent (14-of-29) in the first half, while Saint Joe’s shot 37 percent (7-of-19).

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APPARENTLY, THIS HAPPENED TODAY

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So Spike Lee is just dropping by VCU Basketball practices now? I guess Shaka Smart really is a rock star after all.

It's gotta be the shoes? Mars Blackmon loves Havoc.

It’s gotta be the shoes? Mars Blackmon loves Havoc.

spike lee-and-shaka smart

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