THORPE ICES DAVIDSON

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Check out VCU sophomore Isis Thorpe’s buzzer-beater at Davidson from Wednesday night. With the game tied at 63-all, VCU inbounded from underneath its own basket with 2.5 seconds left. Inbounder Chadarryl Clay spies Thorpe over the top and the Pennsylvania native catches and fires the winner. VCU improved to 16-12 with the win, while Thorpe continues to enjoy a terrific sophomore season. She led VCU with 16 points last night.

A BRAND NEW ADAEZE

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Junior Adaeze Alaeze is enjoying a breakout season for the VCU Women's Basketball team.

Junior Adaeze Alaeze is enjoying a breakout season for the VCU Women’s Basketball team.

By Chris Cullum

Coming into this season, VCU’s women’s basketball team was looking at what could only be described as a fresh start. Five players, who had accounted for nearly half of the scoring last year, were departing the program, leaving this year’s squad with just two upperclassmen. A whole new coaching staff was introduced. Growing pains were sure to follow.

Enter Adaeze Alaeze. The junior from Baltimore has seen a spike in her numbers this season as one of the elder statesmen of the squad. This year she’s playing over 10 minutes per game more than she did last season, and her scoring and rebounding numbers have nearly doubled.

The heavier workload was something Alaeze expected to see this season, acknowledging that with a young team, everyone had to step up in different ways. Also, with a new coaching staff came clean slates, and it’s clear that she’s made the most out of the situation.

“I think Coach would agree that most of the time I lead by example,” she said. “In practice I’m always going hard. It was kind of a given to set an example, since it’s my third year here.”

Early in the season, with the Rams in the midst of a six-game road trip, those growing pains made an appearance. However, despite a 2-4 record on the trip, VCU (14-9, 5-5 A-10) rattled off eight wins in its next 10 games. It could be an arbitrary end point, or it could have signified the point when a new coaching staff and a young roster found its groove. Alaeze sits squarely in the latter camp.

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WOMEN’S HOOPS DOWNS GEORGE MASON (VIDEO)

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Isis Thorpe dropped 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday as the VCU Women’s Basketball team improved to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic 10. The Rams are right in the mix.

PERFECT CHEMISTRY: CLAY FINDS A HOME AT VCU

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Sophomore Chadarryl Clay is averaging 4.7 points and 2.1 assists per game this season for the 10-5 Rams.

By Nathan Heintschel

After transferring colleges, experiencing three coaching changes and living in three different states the last two years, static is not a word to describe VCU redshirt-sophomore guard Chadarryl Clay’s college career.

She’s experienced a career’s worth of adversity, but through it all, Clay has been able to maintain her focus on the court and in the classroom.

The daughter of Ardarryl and Naketa Clay, Clay grew up with her siblings Ardarryl Jr. and Aniyah in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Chadarryl’s father sparked her interest in basketball when she was four years old. Her love for basketball grew each year when her dad would shuttle her to “And 1” tour exhibition games in Chattanooga. She says she admired Allen Iverson growing up because his game resembled those in the “And 1” exhibitions. Clay says she modeled her game after Iverson, and Jason Kidd inspired her to choose the No. 5 for her jersey.

Clay attended Girls Preparatory School beginning in sixth grade. She developed the skills to balance school and athletics early. Her parents stressed grades before basketball, and while she could get away with a couple B’s on her report cards, she needed to earn A’s to continue playing basketball.

It was in high school that Clay developed a love for numbers and the sciences. She excelled in chemistry early, and following an internship at a pharmacy, Clay decided she’d found her career path.

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A HUNT FOR EXCELLENCE

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Dr. Eugene Hunt's association with VCU and RPI spanned seven decades.

Dr. Eugene Hunt’s association with VCU and RPI spanned seven decades.

This year, even as his health betrayed him, Dr. Gene Hunt was a presence at VCU games. Hunt filled his 81 years to the brim with life, love and memories through lasting friendships, far-flung travels and rich experiences, and he wasn’t going to let an act as trivial as changing an oxygen tank at halftime stop him.

Hunt, an ardent but gentle presence in the VCU community for five decades (and RPI before that) was laid to rest last week. Since its inception in 1968, there has been no greater champion of VCU than Hunt.

Rare were the times when Dr. Hunt wasn’t draped in black and gold, wearing an impossibly warm grin, his kind features framed by his white Abraham Lincoln beard, with his lovely wife Honey by his side.

There were times I felt like I saw Gene and Honey more than my wife, because they were everywhere. They attended volleyball matches, men’s basketball games, women’s basketball games – it didn’t matter. They drove to road games even as they approached their 80s. When they couldn’t drive themselves anymore, someone else gladly would.

I was in my first year at VCU in 2005 when I met the Hunts for the first time at the Jeff Capel Coaches Show. It was a VCU event on a day ending in ‘Y’, so naturally they wouldn’t miss it. My wife and I talked with the ever-approachable couple and were struck by their inviting personalities and buoyant enthusiasm. After more than 50 years together, they still doted on one another. Recently married, we marveled at them.

“They were a package deal,” said Gordon McDougall, VCU Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations. “If you’re in a relationship, you hope that when you’re at that stage of your life you have the love and respect for each other that they did.”

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VIDEO: WOMEN’S HOOPS TOPS UT-PAN AMERICAN, IMPROVES TO 7-4

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Sophomore Isis Thorpe led four Rams in double figures with 14 points as VCU Women’s Basketball topped Texas-Pan American 64-43. The Rams are 7-4.

THORPE FINDS COMFORT, JUMPER IN WIN OVER HIGH POINT

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Sophomore Isis Thorpe scored a season-high 22 points in VCU's 81-59 win over High Point Thursday.

Sophomore Isis Thorpe scored a season-high 22 points in VCU’s 81-59 win over High Point Thursday.

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s a new year with a new coach and a new system, but Isis Thorpe started to look like her old self in Thursday’s 81-59 win over High Point.

Thorpe, a slick-shooting sophomore guard, scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Rams (6-4). It was her fifth career 20-point performance. Thorpe knocked down 8-of-12 from the field, including a season-best 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

It was a return to form of sorts for Thorpe, who knocked down a team-best 74 threes as a freshman and averaged 12.3 points per game, but shot just 25 percent (19-of-75) from 3-point range in her final 11 games. She came into Thursday’s game averaging 9.1 points while shooting 33 percent (10-of-30) from beyond the arc.

Thorpe stroked her first three triples of the contest and mixed in timely pump-fakes and dribble drives on the way to her best scoring output in 33 games.

“It’s about time I started hitting some shots, so that felt really good today,” she said. “It was just a great win for all of us as a team. We finally got to a point where we’re up with a lead and twisted the knife instead of letting them come back, so that was really great game that we had today.”

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MONDAY WAKEUP; RAMS WIN & MO DUNKS

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It was an undefeated hoops weekend at VCU. We’ve pretty well covered the 93-87 men’s basketball instant classic from Saturday. Sunday, women’s basketball knocked off UNC Greensboro – coached by former VCU assistant and staff hoops legend Wendy Palmer – 80-73. Sophomore Keira Robinson led four Rams in double figures with 19 points, and classmate Camille Calhoun booked a double-double in the win. To the highlights!

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Another treat for you this morning. Here’s 48 seconds of Mo Alie-Cox dunking on people, because nobody should have to go through a Monday without a Mo Alie-Cox dunk or blocked shot.

PRESS CONFERENCE JAMBAROO

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On Thursday, we settled into the media room for a parade of press conferences as the VCU Men’s Basketball team prepped for Virginia and the VCU Women’s Basketball squad readied for Old Dominion.

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ROBINSON RETURNS ‘HOME’, POISED TO FORGE LEGACY AT VCU

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Keira Robinson handed out 200 assists last season as a freshman.

Keira Robinson handed out 200 assists last season as a freshman.

In many ways, VCU Basketball has been defined by its point guards. From Edmund Sherod to Rolando Lamb, Eric Maynor and Joey Rodriguez, the program’s most successful seasons, perhaps more than any other position, have been sparked by outstanding point guard play.

At least, that’s been true of the men’s program. The women’s team, however, has been notable for its post players, such as WNBA draft picks Quanitra Hollingsworth, Krystal Vaughn and Courtney Hurt. Not since Rochelle Luckett nearly15 years ago has a VCU Women’s Basketball point guard commanded the court in a starring role.

But that’s changing.

The next great VCU point guard may already be here. Keira Robinson burst onto the scene in 2013-14 with, statistically speaking, one of the best seasons by a VCU point guard in school history. As a freshman last season, Robinson doled out 200 assists in VCU’s high-octane offense, the third most in school history. She and teammate Isis Thorpe were the first VCU freshmen to average double digits in points per game since Hollingsworth in 2005-06.

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