Junior Treveon Graham will lead VCU into Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday.

Junior Treveon Graham will lead VCU into Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday.

RICHMOND, Va. – About 70 miles separate the campuses of VCU and Virginia, a little more than an hour for even the most conservative drivers. But it’s the figurative divide, not the physical, between the two schools that has kept their men’s basketball teams apart for 15 years.

On Tuesday, the series between VCU and Virginia, on sabbatical since Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart was a senior at Kenyon College, resumes at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. It’s a marquee match-up of ranked squads. The Rams are 14th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, while the Cavaliers are 25th.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for both teams and for all the fans of college basketball in the area,” Smart said Monday at his weekly press conference. “There’s a lot of great basketball that goes on throughout the year in Virginia, in the Mid-Atlantic Region, but for this early in the year, for two teams that are in the top 25 to play one another…I think that’s what it’s all about.”

But the strength of the match-up might not be the most remarkable element of Tuesday’s contest. It’s that the game is happening at all.

Part of a home-and-home series between the two schools (UVA will visit VCU in ’14-15), the game likely owes its existence as much to the mid-major roots of Virginia Coach Tony Bennett and the friendship between he and Smart, as it does the standing of the two programs.

VCU and Virginia last met in a game on Nov. 13, 1998 in Richmond, an 86-70 Cavaliers’ win. That contest was originally scheduled as VCU’s grand debut in the Stuart C. Siegel Center, but construction delays prevented the arena from opening until the following season. Instead, it was played at Richmond’s Robins Center.




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Treveon Graham was the first VCU sophomore to average better than 15 points per game in more than 10 years.

Treveon Graham was the first VCU sophomore to average better than 15 points per game in more than 10 years.

RICHMOND, Va. – Rising junior Treveon Graham stands to gain valuable experience later this month when he participates in the World University Games Training Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to VCU Coach Shaka Smart, himself a veteran of the USA Basketball experience.

Graham was one of 29 players invited to attend the camp June 24-30 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Twelve players will be selected for the team that will compete at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia July 7-16. Among Graham’s competition are Luke Hancock of Lousiville, Creighton All-American Doug McDermott, Quinn Cook of Duke and Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Kendall Williams of New Mexico.

“First of all, it’s very, very high level competition in the trials,” Smart said. “The guys he’s competing with just to make the team are high level players from very high level programs. I think anytime you play against high level competition it pushes you to be better and exposes you to some of the areas where you need to improve, so that’ll be terrific for him.”

In addition, the coaching staff reads like a Who’s Who of hot names in Division I. Davidson’s Bob McKillop will serve as head coach. He will be assisted by Michigan Head Coach John Beilein – fresh off an appearance in the National Championship Game – and Frank Martin of South Carolina.


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