There were few bright spots in VCU's 72-60 loss to Richmond last year at the Robins Center

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.

This week, although both teams are vastly different from last season, the Rams who were in the Robins Center that night have had the opportunity to remember what it felt like when the Spiders worked them over. They hope the experience will serve them well Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

“It’s definitely a lesson to learn from,” Burgess said. “Having that intensity in each game, but especially with Richmond. We want to beat them as bad as they want to beat us. We’re just going to have to have a better mental edge and remember what happened last year and build off of that.”

“We definitely want to get payback and avenge our loss from last year,” commented sophomore Rob Brandenberg. “It was a bad feeling after losing that game because we felt like we were ready. That’s definitely going to be the back of our minds while we’re preparing to take the floor on Friday.”

Since October, VCU Coach Shaka Smart has tried to drive home the point that the 2010-11 season is in the past and that the Rams are a completely different team this year. But even he acknowledged that the beating VCU took last season is still on some players’ minds.

“You should be able to use that for a level of motivation,” Smart said. “And you’d better believe we’ve shown some tape from last year.”

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