NCAA PRACTICE AND PRESSERS FROM OKLAHOMA CITY

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Greetings from Oklahoma City! The Rams met with the media today and cranked out an open practice at Chesapeake Arena as they prepare for Oregon State Friday at 1:30. Side note. I keep having to remind myself that the game is at 12:30 here in the central time zone. I hope I don’t miss it.

MEDIA MINUTES – MARCH 9

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The Atlantic 10 Tournament is upon us, but before we got out of town, we put cameras in Melvin Johnson’s and Korey Billbury’s faces and asked them tough questions.

ICYMI: RAMS TOP BONA FOR 10TH STRAIGHT VICTORY

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VIDEO: RAMS OUTLAST SPIDERS IN OT

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

BONUS RADIO GOODIES

VIDEO: RAMS CHASE AWAY BULLS

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FALL GRADUATES HONORED

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Emma Kruse, Garrett Cyprus, Mo Alie-Cox and Melvin Johnson are among seven VCU student-athletes set to graduate on Dec. 12

We’re taught to always think about graduation as a late spring/early summer thing. But! The academic calendar runs all year. There’s also a fall commencement, and seven VCU student-athletes will walk in those ceremonies on Dec. 12, including a couple of recognizable Rams’ hoops stars, Mo Alie-Cox and Melvin Johnson.

On Thursday, VCU took a moment to honor its fall graduates and to think about what it all means. 

TWO TALKS TO SHARE

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Not all of you get a chance to see these interviews that run on our pregame show on CBS 6.3, so I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity. I chatted with Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox last week briefly, where we discussed the ODU rivalry, Mo’s slimmer frame and Melvin’s love of playing in New York.

 

VIDEO: RAMS RUN PAST RADFORD

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Also, here’s an interview I did recently with Korey Billbury for the pregame show.

TWO TALKS – MELVIN & WILL

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Melvin Johnson addresses the audience at his VCU Criminal Justice TED Talk earlier this year.

Melvin Johnson addresses the audience at his VCU Criminal Justice TED Talk earlier this year.

We have two videos to share today, both educational, but with very different lessons. The first, the most important is Melvin Johnson’s criminal justice TED Talk from earlier this year. It’s important to remind everybody sometimes there’s more to the guys on the basketball court than just basketball. I love seeing student-athletes take part in things like this, and applaud the VCU Criminal Justice Program – which is terrific, as far as I can tell – for challenging these men and women.

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Today’s second video is a little more straightforward. Mike Litos sits down with Will Wade to discuss next season’s rule changes. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Wade talk about basketball.

PORTLAND NOTES: RUSSELL OFFICIALLY CRAFTY, BROOKS BREAKS OUT FOR VCU

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Ohio State freshman D'Angelo Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season.

Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Much of the talk surrounding VCU’s NCAA Tournament Round of 64 match-up with Ohio State has centered on Buckeyes’ star guard D’Angelo Russell, and for good reason.

Russell, a 6-foot-5 freshman, was recently named All-America by the United States Basketball Writers Association. The Louisville, Kentucky native ranks first nationally among freshmen in scoring (19.3 ppg) and is third in assists (168). Should he declare this spring, Russell is likely a top-five NBA Draft pick. NBADraftExpress.com has him third in its most recent mock draft.

VCU’s game plan will likely dedicate a chunk of attention to slowing down Russell, who has shown little difficulty adjusting to college basketball. A deft ball handler, Russell has also hit 90 three-pointers this year and leads Ohio State in rebounding (5.6 rpg). But it’s his passing skills that have people talking. From one-handed, laser bounce feeds to eye-popping spin passes in traffic, Russell’s vision, and the ability to get the ball into small spaces makes him especially dangerous.

VCU’s Michael Gilmore can vouch for Russell’s skills. They were AAU teammates with Each1 Teach1 in Florida. Gilmore soon realized that Russell wasn’t like other point guards.

“There would be times [in the huddle] where he’d just yell at me, roll, roll, roll after I set screens for him because after a couple of times where I didn’t think I was open,” Gilmore said. “I started trusting him with it. He’s a very good passer.”

Gilmore also has first-hand knowledge of how Russell’s scoring and passing ability play off of each other.

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