VIDEO: BLACK & GOLD GAME

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RODRIGUEZ EYES NEW CHAPTER IN VCU RETURN

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Joey Rodriguez, who helped lead the Rams to the Final Four in 2011, returns in 2017 as director of player development for the Rams.

By Andy Lohman

Joey Rodriguez had to take a circuitous route back to VCU, but the fan-favorite point guard from the 2011 Final Four team is now the Director of Player Development for men’s basketball.

“It’s just cool to be back, it brings back so many memories,” Rodriguez said. “We can take this thing to another level and that’s really exciting.”

After an outstanding career at VCU, where he ranks third in school history in both assists (580) and steals (237), and where he helped steer the Rams to a historic Final Four run in 2011, Rodriguez briefly played professional basketball in Turkey and Puerto Rico. He would then begin his coaching career as the Assistant Video Coordinator at Central Florida.

Following a year with the Golden Knights, Rodriguez dove into the realm of high school basketball, first as an assistant coach at Benedictine in Richmond, then taking the reigns as head coach of his alma mater, Lake Howell High School, in Winter Park, Fla. for the 2015-16 season.

“I learned a lot just being thrown into the fire with a great group of kids,” said Rodriguez of his first head coaching gig.

The experience helped him evolve as he transitioned off the court and onto the sidelines.

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TWO VIDEOS WORTH YOUR TIME

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VCU Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Rhoades spent three seasons at Rice University in Houston. He still owns a home there, and he and his family still have many friends in the city. It’s no surprise Rhoades has been heartbroken by the stories and images coming out of Houston, which has been ravaged by flooding produced by Hurricane Harvey. It’s one reason why Rhoades has begun mobilizing efforts to help out those in need in his former city. Learn more:

In lighter fare, JeQuan Lewis is preparing to chase his dream of playing in the NBA. He’ll be in camp with the Milwaukee Bucks this fall, fighting for a roster spot.

ALL RHOADES LEAD HOME

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rhoades-presserOn Friday, I figured I was going to have plenty of time to properly catalogue all the weeds in my lawn. Nope. I’ll just cut it short again and hope nobody notices.

There are whirlwinds, and there are whatever you want to call the last 48 hours here at VCU. Has a fan base ever experienced such a wild swing of emotions in such a short period of time? I’ll let you guys figure that out (The answer is no, by the way).

On Monday night, when the news broke, my first thought was, ‘We need to go get Mike Rhoades’. I figured that could be in a few days. I can’t rent a car in the amount of time it took Ed McLaughlin to fly to Houston and pick up Rhoades.

People want to know what they’re getting in Mike Rhoades. From my experiences, I’ll say this: I have not yet met a person with a negative thing to say about Mike Rhoades. He is, in fact, revered here, in Ashland, Eastern Pennsylvania, pretty much anywhere he’s spent enough time to get a cup of coffee. I find him to be as authentic as they come. A guy from a small town in coal country, he’s hard working and down-to-earth. He excels at forging relationships. One other thing, and this is important. Mike Rhoades lives for competition. He wants to win at everything. We’re in great hands, folks.

I can’t predict the future, but I get a sense that VCU and Richmond really mean something to Mike and his family. You could see that when Jodie Rhoades, his wife, was overcome with emotion Tuesday during Mike’s introductory pep rally…uh, I mean, press conference. You could see it when Mike spoke to his mom in the crowd. “We’ve been on this ride a long time, and the ride stops here, at VCU.” He told her.

During one of my first interviews with Mike back in 2009, he told me that he – then the head coach at Randolph-Macon – and Jodie used to spend their date nights here at the Siegel Center, watching the Rams. They might have to start going to the movies now.

RHOADES ON BLUE-COLLAR MENTALITY

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Great clip here from VCU Assistant Coach Mike Rhoades on the Rams’ coaching staff wearing blue collar work shirts last week. Considering Rhoades is a guy who once had his teeth knocked out in practice, you can feel pretty comfortable taking his word on these types of things.

WRIC PROFILES MIKE RHOADES

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Nice profile of VCU Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades by WRIC’s Yianni Kourakis.

YOU SHOULD SEE THE OTHER GUY

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We’ve already told you that VCU Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades likes to practice with the team, and that he, quite frankly, more than holds his own. But if you thought that Rhoades was just Cadillac-ing around the perimeter all day, you’d be wrong.

The photo below is from Monday’s practice after Rhoades was on the wrong end of a Jarred Guest elbow while fighting for a rebound. Dude is smiling minutes after he had his two front teeth knocked out. He can play for my hockey team any day.

RETRO RHOADES KEY TO VCU FUTURE

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Shaka Smart says 39-year-old Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades, 'would play for us right now.'

The list of accomplishments from VCU Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades’ playing career is probably as long as his arm. National Champion, National Player of the Year, 2,000 points scored, retired jersey. I could go on.

Most of VCU’s players were in diapers when Rhoades was terrorizing Division III for Lebanon Valley College from 1991-95. Rhoades is 39 years old now. Most of his peers have crammed their athletic memories into a worn shoebox in the attic by now, next to the dusty high school yearbooks. If you want to see them cross somebody over, you’ll need to hang on a minute while they go dig the VHS player out of the garage, or wherever the heck it is.

But if you want to see Rhoades come off screens, bury 3-pointers and talk a little trash, you can drop by Franklin Street Gym when the Rams practice. Rhoades, like a few of VCU’s coaches, regularly participates in drills and plays in scrimmages with the team. Consider him a basketball visual aid.

It’s not an uncommon practice, but when people start making statements like, “Mike Rhoades is our best practice player,” it’s worthy of an investigation. At first, it sounded like some kind of Paul Bunyan-sian myth. Does he play barefoot too? Dropkick 3-pointers? But then VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart lobbed this bombshell.

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