TWO VIDEOS FOR THURSDAY

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New VCU Coach Will Wade made the rounds with the media Tuesday in Brooklyn.

New VCU Coach Will Wade made the rounds with the media Tuesday in Brooklyn.

Hey friends. Basketball season is practically breathing down our necks. I know this because the Atlantic 10 held its annual media day in Brooklyn Tuesday. Mike Voyack followed new Rams’ Coach Will Wade around with a camera as people asked him questions. Let’s have a gander:

Speaking of basketball. The Black and Gold Scrimmage is Saturday at the Siegel Center. It’s scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. The rosters were recently released, and I’ve got to say Wade is really going to challenge that Gold team. Although it’s not set in stone, the Black team appears starter-heavy. On the flip side, this will be an opportunity for guys like Johnny Williams, Michael Gilmore and Doug Brooks to shine. Should be fun.

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The Black and Gold Scrimmage will be followed immediately by the first VCU Basketball Alumni Game. We released those rosters a few days ago. If you haven’t seen them, tighten up your social media game. Then, look here:

black-and-gold-GOLD TEAM

black-and-gold-BLACK TEAM

Look, there are a bunch of great names on these teams, but the big reveal is the expected appearance of Larry Sanders, who has not played publicly since leaving the Milwaukee Bucks (and the NBA) altogether last year. I don’t know if Larry’s in any kind of shape right now, but I’m hitching my wagon to the Black team. I base that solely on Calvin Duncan’s coaching abilities.

In other news, the Utah Jazz have released Treveon Graham, while Briante Weber has officially signed with the Miami Heat.

That's a good-looking jersey.

That’s a good-looking jersey.

Don’t fret, VCU fans. The Jazz initially signed Graham to a three-year deal with a small guarantee. There’s an excellent chance he’ll now end up with the team’s D-League franchise, the Idaho Stampede. By releasing Graham, the Jazz can keep him out of the D-League draft pool and place him in Idaho. The Houston Rockets employed the same tactic with Troy Daniels and the Heat will likely do the same with Weber.

That basketball stuff is all in good fun, but the video you really need to be watching is this one, featuring VCU Women’s Soccer senior Gabby Dyer. Gabby is quite simply a tremendous human being who has dedicated much of her time to community service and serving others. Please watch:

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BONUS: Check out these goals from VCU Women’s Soccer’s win at La Salle the other day. These are some great goals. That last one by Julia Suarez is insane. The keeper doesn’t even try to stop it.

MONDAY ROUND-UP: SWEET-SHOOTING RABBITS AND OTHER VCU NEWS

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Update: Brandon Rozzell is still a shooter.

Update: Brandon Rozzell is still a shooter.

There are a ton of former Rams playing professionally these days, and it’s fun to check out how some of our favorites are acquitting themselves around the globe. With that in mind, let’s kick off this Monday and see how former Ram and fan-favorite Brandon Rozzell is doing in Denmark OH JEEZ HE’S SETTING THE LEAGUE ON FIRE.

To wit:

Say, that’s pretty good. I feel like I’ve seen this kind of shooting somewhere, but I’m having a hard time putting a finger on it. I just had one question, however.

We’ll keep you posted.

PS: This is Rozzell’s current team’s logo. This bunny does not mess around, obviously.

rabbit

In current VCU news, the win of the weekend goes to the VCU Volleyball team. The Rams, beset by injuries and youth, have shown flashes of potential this year, but hadn’t been able to hit their stride. That may be changing.

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BEHIND THE SCENES: MEN’S HOOPS PHOTO DAY

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In case you missed it, we went behind the scenes last week at VCU Men’s Basketball photo day. It’s a day when we actually get a lot of work done for the season, but everybody seems to enjoy hamming it up in front of the cameras. Here’s a quick look.

CANDY BARS, GOLFING FOR DOLLARS & HOOPS NUGGETS

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It's a good idea to keep these away from me.

It’s a good idea to keep these away from me.

I don’t spend much time talking about fundraising on here, mostly because I’ve never been very good at it. I once ate $18 worth of Caramellos, about half my inventory, that I was supposed to sell for Pony League baseball. I had to mow my grandmother’s lawn to pay myself back. I learned two things from the experience. No. 1, Caramellos are delicious. No. 2…what was I talking about?

Moving on. Thankfully, there are plenty of people in and around VCU Athletics who make sure we have the resources necessary to compete and provide an all-around excellent student-athlete experience. In recent years, a group of women close to the program has stepped up with an effort to carry the torch for women’s athletics here at VCU.

The annual VCU Women’s Golf Tournament, now in its second year, is a product of their efforts. In just two years, the tournament has become one of VCU’s largest fundraisers. Tremendous effort.

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Meanwhile, we’ve reached what is basically the midpoint for fall sports, and a few programs are starting to find themselves.

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NBA TRAINING CAMPS OPEN

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Troy Daniels aims for an expanded role in Charlotte this season.

Troy Daniels aims for an expanded role in Charlotte this season.

As of Tuesday, all NBA training camps had opened, which means a couple of former VCU stars are back to work.

For Troy Daniels, training camp won’t be so much about making the Charlotte Hornets’ roster as it is convincing Coach Steve Clifford to expand his role. Daniels, who was traded twice last season, arrived in Charlotte in February and saw action in just 11 games with the team. In his first six weeks with the Hornets, Daniels played in just four games. It wasn’t until the final weeks of the season that Clifford finally called Daniels’ number. Daniels averaged about 26 minutes in the Hornets last four games of the season and knocked down 12-of-26 three-point field goals during that stretch. Daniels topped 15 points three times during that stretch, including a 24-point effort to end the year.

During an interview this summer, Clifford said Daniels would see more action, but how much remains unclear. It’s worth noting the Hornets finished last in the NBA in 3-point shooting (.318) last season. I’m sure Clifford has noticed.

Daniels has been limited early in camp by a strained hamstring, but it’s not expected to linger.

Meanwhile, here’s Troy’s face:

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VCU SCHEDULE DROPS; START PLANNING YOUR WINTER NOW

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Fifteen of VCU's 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games will be broadcast on national networks.

Fifteen of VCU’s 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games will be broadcast on national networks.

Big sportsball news today. No, not that deflated footballs thing. I mean, VCU released its full basketball schedule, complete with teevee information. As my 3-year-old says at the pool, let’s dive it.

201516MBB-Schedule

We’ve known about the non-conference schedule for weeks now, so I won’t get into that too much, other than to note CBS Sports Net picking up the Cincinnati game on Dec. 19.

Atlantic 10 Conference play begins on Jan. 2 with a familiar face. The Rams will welcome George Mason to the Siegel Center that day. VCU swept a pair of games from the Patriots last year. Mason, however, will look quite a bit different. Dave Paulsen, a TV sitcom dad look-alike, has taken over as head coach.

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JAZZ DEAL PROVIDES INTRIGUING OPPORTUNITY FOR TREVEON GRAHAM

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Treveon Graham averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.

Treveon Graham averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.

The Freight Train is ready to chug across the Great Salt Lake.

The Utah Jazz officially announced the signing of Treveon Graham Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders and others are reporting Graham’s deal as a partially guaranteed 3-year contract.

Graham, who was not selected in the NBA Draft in June, played for the San Antonio Spurs in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues and averaged 7.8 points per game. Graham was said to be receiving interest from a handful of teams following his summer league stint and had been weighing his options.

This deal is an intriguing one, and could pay off for Graham. The Jazz currently have 13 players signed to guaranteed contracts for 2015-16. That includes injured point guard Dante Exum, who is expected to miss the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Source: RealGM.com

Source: RealGM.com

Graham will most likely try to win a spot at shooting guard, but could also play small forward in small lineups. With that in mind, it’s important to note the contracts of Elijah Millsap (who shot 34 percent from the field last season) and Chris Johnson are currently non-guaranteed.

NBA rosters are limited to 15 players in total, although only 13 can be active on a given night. Teams are allowed to carry 20 players during training camp and can then allocate four (up from three in previous years) cut players to their D-League affiliates. While teams do not retain exclusive rights, and can be signed by any NBA team, it does keep allocated players out of the D-League draft and allows teams to place them with their affiliate. Utah, in case you were wondering, is affiliated with the Idaho Stampeders in Boise. The Houston Rockets developed Troy Daniels in this very same manner.

By joining the Jazz for training camp, Graham has given himself an excellent chance to remain under the team’s umbrella. Even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, there’s a very good chance the Jazz will place him in Idaho and give him a chance to develop.

Seven former VCU players have appeared in an NBA game.

BRIANTE WEBER EYES A NEW BEGINNING

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Briante Weber, VCU's all-time leader in steals and a three-time A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, continues to rehab a right knee injury.

Briante Weber, VCU’s all-time leader in steals and a three-time A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, continues to rehab a right knee injury.

Sometimes we don’t know how good we have it. Briante Weber flew around the basketball court in a VCU uniform for nearly four years, displaying a unique combination of speed, guile, explosiveness and enthusiasm I doubt we’ll ever see again. As much as we cheered his greatness, it was difficult to embrace it to the degree it deserved. That all changed on Jan. 31, when Weber tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus late in a game against Richmond. Weber’s brilliant career was over in a blink. He was 12 steals shy of breaking the NCAA career mark.

VCU overcame its post-Weber malaise to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship. The sight of a jubilant Weber – who continued to dress in uniform – ditching his crutches to hop to center court to celebrate reduced even some of the most iron-jawed VCU fans to misty-eyed messes.

In the months since, Weber has looked to resume his basketball career. Once an intriguing NBA prospect, Weber is fully immersed in the rehabilitation process. Weber is now more than five months removed from surgery and has begun playing in pickup games.

We sat down with Weber for an extended interview for the first time since his injury to find out his thoughts on his injury and the road back to playing Superman-like “Bri-fense”.

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Weber says a number of NBA teams have been keeping tabs on him (which I can independently confirm). He has signed with an agent and says he’ll be spending much of the coming weeks working out in California. Weber hopes to earn a tryout or invitation to an NBA training camp and is confident he’ll at least play in the NBA D-League this season.

 

WHAT’S BREWING FOR GRAHAM, DYKSTRA?

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Former VCU shortstop Vimael Machin is playing for South Bend, the Chicago Cubs' 'A' affiliate in the Midwest League.

Former VCU shortstop Vimael Machin is playing for South Bend, the Chicago Cubs’ ‘A’ affiliate in the Midwest League.

VCU Athletics’ Mike Voyack had an opportunity to catch up with Treveon Graham recently, which isn’t easy, considering how well Graham moves for a man of his size. No matter, Voyack, camera in tow, wrangled Graham for an interview to update us on his pro prospects. Graham, you’ll remember, is coming off a solid performance with the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league teams in Utah and Las Vegas. Graham averaged 7.8 points and shot 46 percent for the Spurs in 10 games overall. From the sound of it, Graham will have options, and you shouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in an NBA training camp this fall.

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Meanwhile, it’s been somewhat of a breakout year for former VCU Soccer star and all-around good guy Andrew Dykstra. After years of bouncing around the MLS in Chicago and feeder leagues like the USL, Dykstra appears to have found comfort for D.C. United. Injuries have thrust him into a regular starting role and he’s been making the best of it. To wit, Dykstra was recently nominated for MLS “Save of the Week” for the third time (vote here).

D.C. United (12-7-5) currently sits in first place in the MLS’ Eastern Conference. The United are 3-3-1 with Dykstra in goal.

When he’s not busy making great saves, Dykstra is making great brews. Last year, D.C. Brau invited Dykstra to tour its brewery, and recently, D.C. United shared this video of Dykstra’s home brew operation.

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In baseball news, it appears that Vimael Machin, one of the stars of VCU’s recent NCAA Super Regional run, is settling in at the pro level. A 10th-round selection of the Chicago Cubs organization, Machin is currently playing for South Bend, the Cubs’ A-ball affiliate. Although Machin is still waiting for his signature swing to come around at the plate, he’s still flashing the glove.

Machin has already played third, short and second in his 21-game pro stint. He is hitting .186 in 80 at-bats.

PROGRESS REPORT: VCU BASKETBALL DEVELOPMENT CENTER

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We recently had an opportunity to check on the progress of the VCU Basketball Development Center (yes, we’re trending away from “practice facility”). Have a look around.

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