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It’s rivalry week. Big, huge, enormous game with Richmond Wednesday.



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You may have heard, but last week Will Wade won the Positive Vibe Cafe Coaches Cook Off last week. That’s because he went with steak, and steak always wins…unless it’s up against bacon, and then bacon always wins, but I digress.

But the real winner here is Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe, which helps adults with disabilities find employment. We’re glad Will and VCU could be a part of something like this.


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My only comment is, what a college basketball game. This job is pretty fun some days.



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VCU Rams1

Senior Briante Weber leads the nation in steals.

VCU Senior Briante Weber leads the nation in steals.

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond snapped VCU’s 12-game winning streak Saturday, but the Rams’ greater concern moving forward will be the status of senior point guard Briante Weber, who left the game with a non-contact injury to his right knee.

In his press conference following the 64-55 loss, VCU Coach Shaka Smart said he did not know the severity of the injury, and that an MRI was imminent.

“We’re hopeful it’s something he can come back from, but I don’t want to say more than that because I don’t know.”

With 3:18 remaining, Weber drove and made a jump stop inside the free throw line, then crumbled to the floor in obvious pain. He was escorted off the floor by the VCU athletic training staff. Weber returned to the VCU bench on crutches a short time later.

Richmond players and coaches shook Weber’s hand afterwards and offered words of encouragement.

“I just said [to him] that guys overcome a lot of things, and people wouldn’t have predicted he’d become the great player that he is and NBA prospect that he is, so what’s bad for a regular person might not be as bad for him, and I wished him luck in getting better,” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney.

Losing Weber for any period of time would be significant for VCU. Weber has often been the Rams’ catalyst on both sides of the floor. He is currently leading the nation in steal percentage for the fourth straight year, and his play sets the tone for the Rams’ “Havoc” defense.

Weber scored 11 points and grabbed six steals prior to Saturday’s injury. He has 374 career steals, 11 shy of the NCAA career record. Weber is averaging 8.0 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game this season.

Although Weber has been relatively injury-free during his career, the Rams did manage an 85-69 win over Tennessee on Nov. 14 in the season-opener while Weber served a suspension. Sophomore JeQuan Lewis and freshman Johnny Williams will be asked to pick up the bulk of the slack at the point for the Rams.

“We’ll wait and see,” Smart said. “He’s an integral part of what we do. We’re hopeful he’ll be back soon, but if he’s out, we’re going to keep playing. You can’t cancel the season. We’re going to keep playing. That’s why you have a full roster of guys. In terms of style of play, we’re not going to change a whole lot [if Weber’s out], but guys are just going to have to step up and play.”

VCU, which entered the game ranked 14th nationally in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, is 17-4 overall and remains in first place in the Atlantic 10 at 7-1 despite the loss.

The Rams will travel to George Mason on Wednesday before heading to St. Bonaventure on Feb. 7.


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Ewoks love BBQ.

Ewoks love BBQ.

On April 17 at 6 p.m., Shaka Smart and Chris Mooney will start their ovens and square off in what can only be billed as the most important basketball-themed culinary showdown in Richmond this spring, the 2014 Coaches’ Cook-Off, which will be held at the Science Museum of Richmond.

So as not to bury the lede, the competition will benefit Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe, a terrific organization which trains people with disabilities to work in the food service industry. So if you have an opportunity to attend this great event, please consider it. Find out more, including how to purchase tickets, here.

I’ve got to give Mooney credit. Shaka Smart already owns three wins over the Richmond coach this year, but he’s back for more. Despite his track record, don’t expect Smart to take this match-up lightly. I know for a fact he’s been dissecting film of “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” this entire week.

VCU Video Coordinator Dwight Perry says Smart has been working around the clock to prepare for the kitchen showdown.

“I spent all of last night cutting risotto clips. Today, it’s chutney. I didn’t even know what chutney was until yesterday,” said Perry, clutching a 64-ounce espresso. “Two days ago, he kept screaming ‘Havoc!’ throughout an entire episode of ‘Barefoot Contessa’. He’s totally dialed in right now.”

As of press time, rumors that Guy Fieri interviewed this week for the open position on Smart’s staff, vacated when Mike Rhoades accepted the job at Rice (coincidence? I think not), remain unconfirmed.

In the competition, Smart and Mooney will each team with a chef to create dishes that will be rated by a panel of judges. Mooney edged Smart last year in this competition, but I love Shaka’s squad this time around. He’s teaming up with Buz Grossberg of Buz and Ned’s BBQ. Seriously. Just call it off now. Shaka is nearly unbeatable when paired with BBQ. I checked with men’s basketball SID Scott Day for Smart’s record when barbequing.

“What is wrong with you,” Day replied via a tersely worded text message.

It should be fun. I’m expecting laughter, tears, joy, exasperation, triumph and cole slaw. I hope you can make it.



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VCU's Havoc defense forced 17 turnovers Friday.

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.



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Guard Kendall Anthony is averaging 15.4 points per game for Richmond this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – Once again, the scouting report on Richmond’s basketball team will be headlined by an undersized, agile, score-first point guard with the initials K.A.

Spider great Kevin Anderson and his 2,000 career points are not on Richmond’s team this season, but 5-foot-8, 140-pound freshman Kendall Anthony is, and he’s doing a pretty good Anderson impersonation this season.

Through eight games, Anthony has been splendid for the Spiders, averaging a team-leading 15.4 points in 24.0 minutes per game off the bench. The runner-up for Tennessee Mr. Basketball last season, Anthony has posted two 20-point games, including 21 his last time out at Wake Forest. He’s shooting 44 percent (16-of-36) from 3-point range.

Richmond is coming off back-to-back NCAA appearances, including last year’s Sweet 16 berth, but the Spiders were thought to be rebuilding. Richmond, much like VCU, lost three critical senior starters.



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I have a bottle of sand from Panama City Beach, Fla. from when I went on spring break in college. My wife hates the thing, but I always get a chuckle out of seeing it because it reminds me of one crazy week. I can’t really talk about any of that here, but I assure you, it was a good time.

In that vein, SportsQuest has brought the floor from the Southwest Regional to Richmond. This is the same floor on which the Rams defeated Florida State and Kansas to reach the Final Four. For VCU fans it might as well be made of solid gold. Both Shaka Smart and Richmond Coach Chris Mooney were at SportsQuest recently to celebrate its arrival. The word on the street is that each school will get a portion of the floor to display. I have no details on this, but I’ll try to find out more.

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