RICHMOND, Va. – With the 2011-12 athletic calendar complete for VCU, we here at VCUathletics.com thought we would try to recap what was a year full of thrills, excitement and another year of growth for the movement known as Ram Nation.
After a long debate, some wrestling matches and name-calling, our crew came up with the top-25 stories from VCU Athletics in 2011-12, which we will unveil one-by-one of the course of the next 25 business days (Monday-Friday).
If you have any thoughts or comments, our Twitter handle is @VCUAthletics, we’d love to hear from you.
Today, we look at #11 on our countdown.
#11 - VCU welcomes new head coaches Shannon Karl
(FH), Marlene Stollings (WBB)
VCU introduced two new head coaches last year in field hockey’s Shannon Karl and women’s basketball’s Marlene Stollings.
Karl, who spent the previous five seasons as an assistant at VCU, was promoted to head coach in November. Prior to her promotion, she was a vital part of some of the best recruiting classes in school history. Those recruits played a significant role in the 2010 season, which will go down as one of the top years in program history with 13 wins and a berth in the CAA Tournament.
Stollings, meanwhile, joined the Rams in early June after a
record-breaking season as head coach at Winthrop University in
2011-12. Her squad set more than 40 team and individual
records, including just the program's second winning season (18-13)
in 26 years. For her efforts, Stollings was named Big South
Conference Coach of the Year after just one season.
#12 - Burgess becomes NCAA Hoops Iron Man
Think about all the people that have played college hoops over the years. Nearly all the NBA greats laced them up on the NCAA hardwood. VCU senior Bradford Burgess did something that NONE of them ever did, becoming the all-time leader in consecutive starts with 146 over his four years as a Ram.
Burgess, known as "Big Shot Brad", to Ram Nation finished just one start shy of the all-time leader for total starts (Duke's Kyle Singler with 147), but the consecutive starts streak was smashed with the Midlothian, Va. native finishing four ahead of Patrick Ewing's old record of 142 (Kansas' Danny Manning was second with 141).
He finished his VCU career ranked fourth all-time in points with 1,684. He is just the third player in school history to score 1,600 points, grab 700 rebounds and dish out 200 assists, joining only Kendrick Warren and Charles Wilkins.
His name sits in the top-10 in career points (fourth – 1,684), three-pointers made (second – 231), three-point field goal pct. (seventh - .397), free throws made (fourth – 343), rebounds (eighth – 734), steals (ninth – 146) and minutes played (first – 4,572).
#13 - Porter, Ruffin reach USA Junior National Outdoor
Representing your country at any level is a unique opportunity that few even get a chance to compete for, but that's exactly what two freshmen on the VCU track & field squad earned this spring.
The Rams track & field program has been on the rise over the past few years and newcomers Kiara Porter and Brandon Ruffin proved that VCU's future is even brighter with both earning invitations to the 2012 USA Junior Outdoor Championships last week.
Porter competed in the 400-meter, finishing fourth and earning a spot on the USA 4x400 junior world team that will compete in Barcelona in July. Ruffin tossed both the shot put and discus in Indianapolis, becoming the first Ram in school history to earn a spot in two events at the USA Junior Championships.
#14 - Women's Soccer's 10-match unbeaten streak,
CAA Championship appearance
VCU's defense was a critical part of its success in 2011. The Rams settled in during the last month of the season reeling off 10 straight games without a loss, including VCU's 1-0 semifinal victory against Northeastern in the CAA Tournament. The Black & Gold allowed just three goals during that stretch and held an opponent scoreless eight times.
As part of their impressive finish, the Rams matched their longest CAA regular season unbeaten streak since 2005 (nine games). That stretch also helped VCU to a second-place regular season finish, the school's best in six years. VCU took its 10-match unbeaten streak into its CAA Championship game against William & Mary on Nov. 6, before falling to the 20th-ranked Tribe in an overtime heartbreaker, 1-0.
#15 - Nearly 30 student-athletes earn degrees
Each year, Ram Nation celebrates hundreds of victories, championships, all-conference awards and much more. However, the main purpose of Ram Nation and its athletic department is to support the nearly 275 student-athletes in their quests to earn their college degree.
Mark 2011-12 as another successful year in that category with nearly 30 student-athletes making the walk across the stage and picking up their degrees from VCU.
Check out the entire list here.
Check out more of the Top 25 Countdown: