MEET CHRIS KOWALCZYK
|A former newspaper reporter, Chris Kowalczyk finds himself
in familiar territory as VCU launches “Around the
Kowalczyk, who joined the school in August of 2005, is entering his sixth year with the Rams. He has served as the department’s media contact for several VCU sports, including women’s basketball from 2005-07 and men’s basketball for the past two seasons.
Prior to his arrival in Richmond, Kowalczyk spent the 2004-05 school year at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., as well as William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. from 2003-04.
From 2001-05, Kowalczyk worked as a reporter for Dorf Feature Service, a subsidiary of the Newark-Star Ledger, and covered high school and small college sports.
Kowalczyk is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, where he received his bachelor’s in broadcast journalism in 2000. In addition, Kowalczyk earned his master’s in sport leadership from VCU’s SportsCenter in 2008.
A native of Austintown, Ohio, Kowalczyk and his wife Stacia reside in Richmond.
Check out the new home for Around The Horns here!
A DOSE OF PERSPECTIVE
Losing stinks. Losing to Richmond or Old Dominion stinks more. However, one game does not a season make. Never has, never will. I always get a kick out of people who hit the panic button after one loss (to a good team, no less). Additionally, it's nearly impossible to extrapolate an accurate outcome from a small sample, such as one game in a 30-plus game season.
- Oakland won on the road at No. 7 Tennessee last night. Does that mean Oakland would win the SEC? Of course not.
- Drexel beat No. 21 Louisville on the road last night (nice job, by the way), does that mean Drexel is going to roll the CAA this year? Possible, but I doubt it.
- Delaware beat Old Dominion a couple of weeks ago. Delaware also lost to Cornell and Ohio.
The point is that, on any given night (cliche alert!), anybody can win. You have to show up. I'll tell you what, 6-3 still feels pretty darn good.To give you an idea about what one loss means, heres a look a some of the Rams' losses over the last few years.
- 2009-10: Nov. 18, 2009: at Western Michigan, 83-67. Western Michigan finished with a 17-15 record and an RPI of 150; Jan. 6, 2010 at Drexel, 75-72. Drexel finished 16-16 last year with an RPI of 146; Feb. 13, 2010 at James Madison, 76-71. Final RPI for JMU, 241.
- 2008-09 (A couple of real doozies here): Nov. 25, 2008 at East Carolina, 93-90 in overtime. ECU was so good this year that Mack McCarthy stepped down after the season. ECU finished 10-17 with an RPI of 223; Jan. 3, 2009: at Delaware, 81-79. Hens finished 13-19 with a 225 RPI; Feb. 4, 2009: at UNC Wilmington, 81-72. Probably the worst of the bunch. The Dub ended the year with a 7-25 mark and a 277 RPI. Also the worst road trip of my life.
- 2007-08: Nov. 29, 2007: at Hampton, 64-55. Final record, 18-12. Final RPI, 151; Jan. 2, 2008: at James Madison, 62-61. This was the famous buzzer-beater, followed by JMU Coach Dean Keener grabbing the public address mic and shouting something mostly unintelligible. JMU was 13-17 and had an RPI of 218 that season. Keener also got the boot; March 9, 2008: vs. William & Mary, 56-54 (CAA Semifinals). The Tribe that season? Just 15-16 with an RPI of 160.
The moral of this wall of text? Well, in the last three seasons, VCU has lost five games to teams that finished with an RPI of 200 or worse. You know what it meant in the end? Mostly nothing. The Rams won two CAA regular season crowns, one CAA Tournament title and the CBI.
In 2008-09 alone, the best of the last three seasons, VCU dropped stinkers at East Carolina, Delaware and UNC Wilmington, three schools that finished a combined 31 games under .500. The Rams won the CAA Championship that year and came within a point of beating UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
- Charron Dominates Men's Indoor Title Match (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Uvarova Wins Third Consecutive State Indoor Title (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Men's Basketball Notebook (VCUAthletics.com).
- Incorporating Freshmen (College Chalk Talk). A special guest appearance by VCU Assistant Coach Will Wade.
- Gerald Colds, Drexel Shut Down 21st-ranked Louisville (ESPN.com). The Dragons shot 39 percent, turned the ball over 22 times and missed 13 of 25 free throws. The also outrebounded the Cardinals, 45-25.
OBLIGATORY HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
SLOW STARTS TROUBLING FOR VCU
The Black and Gold didn’t score its first field goal until a Brad Burgess layup with 11:15 remaining in the first half. It only got worse from there as the Rams stumbled to a 40-17 halftime deficit and eventually fell behind by as many as 30 points in the second half.
The Rams had a similar dilemma against South Florida, digging a 28-10 hole in a 60-59 overtime loss. VCU also had to overcome early deficits in victories over VMI and William & Mary. It’s a troubling trend that the Rams know can’t continue.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” said Bradford Burgess, who provided 11 points and six rebounds Saturday, “It’s been happening the last couple of games. It’s something that we have to fix immediately or it’s going to be trouble. We were down 30 at one time. We can’t come back against good teams like that when we’re in that big of a hole.”
VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart felt like his team was ready to play Saturday, but it didn’t translate into success on the floor.
“It’s something I’m going to need to figure out,” Smart said. “I can tell you that our guys were highly-motivated coming into the game, at least just the way they were at shootaround and before the game, but we were sluggish offensively and I thought that affected us defensively.
With 3:29 remaining in the half VCU pulled within 14 on a put-back by freshman Juvonte Reddic. Instead of being a moment that spurred a turnaround, it instead served as the Rams’ last bright spot of the half. Richmond closed with a 9-0 run, including a Dan Geriot 3-pointer from the left wing to beat the first half buzzer.
“I think with about four minutes left it was between a 12-14 point game, that’s always a critical point to go into halftime strong, we didn’t,” said Smart. “They made a run on us to close out the half and instead of us being within striking distance and instead it was 23 points, which is too much.”
The Spiders pushed the lead to 30 before VCU started its comeback. The Rams have been a great second half team this year and proved it again Saturday. The only problem was that this time it was too late. VCU has outscored its opponents in the second half in eight of nine games this season.
The lead was 29 points with 10:09 to play before the Rams closed with a 29-13 run the rest of the way.
“Our guys have a lot of fight in them,” Smart said. “That’s what’s disappointing about tonight is if we’d shown that fight early on we’d have been fine, at least to make it a lot more competitive game.”
OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS
It’s silly to speculate too much, but Brandon Rozzell’s apparent hamstring injury looks like it should be taken seriously. I have no inside information, but Rozzell, who went down after stealing a ball from Dan Geriot at midcourt with 1:30 left in the first half, looked pretty uncomfortable and didn’t return… We got our first extended look at freshman Juvonte Reddic Saturday. Reddic played 12 minutes and was 3-of-3 from the floor and grabbed three rebounds. Two of those buckets came on put-backs on offensive rebounds, which is something this team could use more of… Jamie Skeen had a very quite double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. That’s his second of the year… At one point in the second half, VCU ran the exact same play for Ed Nixon on four straight possessions and scored on each one… VCU’s starting guards, Rodriguez, Rozzell and Burgess, were a combined 4-of-25 Saturday… Richmond-great Johnny Newman was seated courtside Saturday. At one point, freshman Rob Brandenberg threw a ball directly into Newman’s lap… VCU was just 1-of-14 from 3-point range Saturday.
BLACK AND BLUE LINKAGE
- Rams Set for River City Rumble Against Richmond (VCU Athletics).
- Black and Blue Luncheon Recap (Ram TV).
- If Big '3' is Called for in Saturday's VCU-UR Game, Expect a Local Player to Take It (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Freshman Guard Brandenberg Provides a Spark for VCU (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Self-Inflicted Vagaries... (CAA Hoops).
A WIN IS A WIN
Both VCU Basketball teams notched victories last night, although neither could be considered a masterpiece. The VCU Women's squad trailed Coppin State by 12 at one points and committed 33 turnovers in a 71-62 win. Stat sheet filler Courtney Hurt with 20 points and 17 rebounds, while transfer Sonia Johnson added a season-high 19. A win is a win.
The VCU Men's team had to fight off a comeback from a fiesty VMI team last night before holding on for an 86-80 win. Jamie Skeen had 19 and nine and Brandon Rozzell had 18 huge points. Sure, you'd like to see the Rams blow out teams at home, but a win is a win.
Some random thoughts from last night:
- Captain Obvious point of the day. VCU is going to have to play better if they want to beat Richmond this Saturday. The Rams have been living dangerously the last three games. The Spiders are very good, will be at home and are looking to end a six-game losing streak to the Rams.
- Three players, Jamie Skeen, Brandon Rozzell and Darius Theus, are really impressing me with their maturation from last season. Skeen is averaging team highs in points (15.3) and rebounds (8.1) and is fast becoming a guy VCU cannot do without.
- Rozzell was absolutely clutch last night with 18 points, including a flurry in the second half when Skeen went to the bench with his fourth foul. Rozzell looks like a different player this year. Not only is he shooting the ball well (.467 FG, .385 3FG), but he's putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim now more than ever. He's developed an effective floater and doesn't mind a little contact. Hopefully, that translates to more free throws as well.
- Theus played extended minutes last night (25) and looked pretty good. Through 23 games last season, Theus had 21 assists and 25 turnovers. In the 20 games since, he has 41 assists and 18 turnovers. He's maturing every day.
- Toby Veal is an animal. Sure, he was 2-of-7 from the field and missed three more free throws, but the dude was a junkyard dog out there, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.
- Troy Daniels was 1-of-13 from 3-point range entering the game and hit 4-of-5. He actually hit one more, but had it waved off by a moving screen. When Daniels gets hot, I'm not sure there is a better pure shooter in this league. I'm serious. His jumper is a thing of beauty. It makes the guys at staff basketball cry. If Daniels played for VMI, they'd let him shoot 58 3-pointers a game.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
Just an 11-year old kid throwing one down. Move along.
Oakland and Illinois accidentally played 7:22 of their game last night with a women's ball. Seriously.
- VMI-VCU Tonight at the Stu. Get there. Otherwise, read my preview and Men's Basketball Notebook (Around The Horns).
- VCU Men's Basketball Gameday (VCU Athletics).
- VCU Women's Basketball Gameday (VCU Athletics).
- CAA Notes: Burgess Delivers Big Shots for VCU (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Placating the Stat Hounds, CAA Style... (CAA Hoops).
I'VE SEEN THIS SOMEWHERE BEFORE
Larry Sanders is getting plenty of run these days with the Milwaukee Bucks. In fact, he made a poster yesterday with Dwyane Wade. Sanders had 10 points and six rebounds in a loss to the evil empire last night and is averaging 8.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his last seven games.
Sorry for not discussing last weekend's William & Mary game, as well as the goings-on in the CAA. Check out Mike Litos' recap instead.
GARY NEAL CAN SEE GHOSTS
Towson product Gary Neal apparently is seeing something we can't.
I've had about 382 people ask me how I was going to react to the LeBron James returning to Cleveland fiasco, so I'm glad that's over. My feelings on the man haven't, and likely won't, change. Also, I had no illusions about this Cavalier team beating Miami last night. Sure, they could've summoned that WWE-type, break-the-sleeper-hold kind of spirit, but honestly it was a mismatch. The Cavs are playing with no real center, a trigger-happy, shoot-first point guard and Joey Graham, I mean, Joey Friggin' Graham, as their starting small forward. I was happy the city got to let out a little emotion. Maybe it'll help us move forward. Maybe not. All I know is that the moment he did his little "chalk toss" routine, he signaled to planet earth that he still doesn't get it.
HURT SO GOOD
How long do you think I can use that headline before it gets old? Once? Twice? Six times? I'm going for broke. VCU junior Courtney Hurt dumped 34 points and 10 rebounds on East Carolina last night in a 77-72 loss. She was a free throw away from tying five players (yes, really) for the school single-game scoring mark. Hurt was really the only viable scoring option left for VCU after the losses of D'Andra Moss, La'Tavia Rorie and Kita Waller to graduation, so it's not really a surprise to see Hurt filling the stat sheet.
Obviously, the Rams could use a secondary option, but those don't grow on trees. Oh wait, they do. Junior Andrea Barbour is expected to be eligible for the second semester. The 5-10 guard averaged 15.0 points at Virginia Tech as a freshman. Until then, it's Hurt and whoever is feeling it that night. Sometimes it'll be Jennifer Lane, sometimes it might be promising freshman Jacqueline Brewer. In the meantime, Hurt looks like she's going to be putting up some gaudy numbers. Through four games, Hurt is averaging 26.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
VCU faces off with William & Mary tomorrow at high noon. Hopefully, they'll have enough time to get the parade floats out of the way before game time. William & Mary isn't just the school witih the worst-looking athletics website in the league. They also play some basketball down there.
Tony Shaver's Fightin' Mustaches have been a bit of a mixed bag this year. They're looking to overcome the loss of scrappy, donkey-kicking, shot-selection-be-damned guard David Schneider, as well as Danny Sumner. The Tribe has ben mauled at Virginia and Richmond, nearly upset Syracuse on the road and beaten perennial punching bags Howard, Mercer and Gardner-Webb. Quinn McDowell (14.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Marcus Kitts (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) have been good for "The College", but starters Matt Rum and Kendrix Brown are shooting a combined .281 (18-of-64) this season.
However, William & Mary's most glaring problem this season has been turnovers. The Tribe is averaging 16.6 turnovers per game and have a turnover margin of minus 5.9. Somewhere, the protagonists of "Havoc" are smiling. If the Tribe struggles to control the ball against VCU, the Rams will roll them.
- UCLA almost took down fourth-ranked Kansas last night, which would've been a nice RPI kick for the Rams. Kansas also got one very generous call at the end of the game. Kansas 77, UCLA 76 (ESPN.com).
- It might seem like he has it all, but LeBron will miss Cleveland one day (SI.com). I couldn't resist. I'm not even going to fault the writer for calling Bernie Kosar a Cleveland native, even though he's from Boardman, just outside of Youngstown.
- Kevin Bacon is a fan of...Kevin Bacon? (YouTube).
COUPLE OF GAMEDAY LINKS
- Stretch of games should boost VCU's RPI (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Gameday Central (VCU Athletics).
- Where are you going to watch this thing? Try here.
VCU and South Florida have a long history that dates back to the Sun Belt and the Metro Conferences. They've met 36 times (VCU leads, 25-11), but none of those games is likely as memorable as this one.
HOW LONG BEFORE THIS DOG GETS EATEN BY THIS TIGER CUB?
Who has a tiger for a pet?
...I REMEMBER, I HAD THE LASAGNE
Let me be person No. 7,890,547 to bid farewell to Leslie Nielson, who passed away this week. Who knew Canadians were funny? My bad, I forgot about Brian Adams.
Anyway, the VCU Men's Basketball team heads to South Florida on Wednesday to take on the Fightin' Stan Heaths in Tampa, Fla. Heath, formerly of Arkansas and Kent State (Kent Read, Kent Write, Kent State), led USF to respectability last year in the 38-team Big East. The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for St. Petersburg native Ed Nixon, which brings us to today's first link. Everybody's favorite Delawarian, Scott Day, chats with Nixon about returning to the Tampa-St. Pete area.
- VCU notes: Rams have another test waiting at USF (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Monday Sankalpa: Now Is the Time... (CAAHoops.com). If you want to keep pace with men's basketball in The Colonial Athletic Association, this is the place to do so.
- The Sneakiest Trick Plays in Football (Asylum). Statue of Liberty, anyone? Anyway, we pretty much ran all these back on the mean streets of Austintown, Ohio back in the day. Crazy stuff went down on that field at Lloyd Elementary.
- Wedded bliss for Big East, TCU? (ESPN.com). In the time since I started writing this blog, the Big East added seven more schools. Welcome, Radford, Wyoming, Cal Poly, Oakland and Blue Mountain State!
- The 14 most awesome fake products from the Simpsons (Guyism). Who doesn't love Kentucky Fried Panda?
RIP FRANK DREBEN
SOUTH FLORIDA PREVIEW
Plenty going on right now. I'd love to catch up on a great weekend for the Rams, but it'll have to wait. For now, enjoy these moving pictures.
MSG, NOT JUST A FOOD ADDITIVE ANYMORE
Campus is abuzz with NIT Season Tip-Off talk. Plenty of pub for the Rams these last couple of days.
- Primer for the NIT Semifinals (ESPN.com).
- Rams hope to rise above mid-major rank and file (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Feast Week Predictions (ESPN.com). Anybody think ESPN's naming of weeks is getting a little silly? Yeah, I though so too.
- VCU-Tennessee Preview (ESPN.com). They use that cringe-worthy abbreviation that I won't reproduce here, but whatever.
- Start Spreadin' The News... (CAA Hoops).
- Pearl hopes Vols can focus on hoops at NIT Season Tip Off (SI.com). You may have heard, but Bruce Pearl is in a weee bit of trouble these days.
- There's a horse in that car!
- If somebody gets me this blob, I promise to live in the Siegel Center parking lot for the entire basketball season.
- Hollywood's Biggest Turkeys of 2010. I can't believe a movie called "Furry Vengeance" wasn't a success.
- Seven things from America that are insanely popular overseas.
A home volleyball match on Friday has me hanging out in Richmond all week. So all you kiddies enjoy yourselves in New York. I'm sure there will be 11 people in the office tomorrow, but whatever. I can't keep you posted on the goings-on in NYC, but Scott Day sure can. Follow his blog from the road here.
- VCU Stepping Up 3-Point Attack in Early Going (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- The Garden of Meaning: VCU Relishing Role at 'Mecca of Basketball' (Commonwealth Times).
- Winning Formula: Take Shots + Make Shots (CAA Hoops).
- Old Dominion defeated Xavier last night to win the Paradise Jam. The Monarchs are going to be a handful this season.
DEALIN' FROM DELAWARE
Greetings from "The First State." I'm up here for the CAA Volleyball Tournament. The Rams will take on the top-seeded Blue Hens Saturday at 7:30 p.m. For that reason, I'm all about brevity today. Here are some links to enjoy!
- A big Around The Horns congratulations goes out to former VCU basketball player Michael Anderson, who survived the final cut with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Developmental League. Congrats to Mike Nice.
- Men's Basketball Notebook (Around The Horns).
- Rams Aim to Channel Spirit of 2005: VCU Volleyball Preview (VCUAthletics.com).
- Rams Really Like Future Guards (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
In case you were in a coma last night, the VCU Men's Basketball team throttled Wake Forest last night on its home floor, 90-69. The win means the Rams advance to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals Nov. 24. Let's proceed with the approved linkage.
- Second-half surge sends VCU past Wake (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- VCU rolls Wake Forest 90-69 in NIT Season Tip-Off (USA Today).
- VCU at Wake Forest Video (CBS 6).
- TICKET INFORMATION FOR MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.
VCU is 3-1 in its last four games against ACC foes.
THAT INTERNET, IT'S GOING TO BE HUGE
Former VCU golfer Lanto Griffin has a new website (lantogriffin.com). Lanto is attempting to break in to professional golf, so stop by to monitor his progress on landing a reality show with John Daly.
- VCU Turns Back Winthrop, 67-54 (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Top 10 Early Season Tournaments (SI.com). There's a VCU shoutout in here.
- VCU Tops Winthrop in NIT Season Tip-Off (HeraldOnline.com).
- Your Marathon, My 5K... (CAAHoops.com).
- I just want to give a shoutout to MidMajority.com, now that the season is underway. It's fantastic.
- VCU Trio Has a Chance to Set Standard (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
A GENEROUS FELLOW
Joey Rodriguez set a school and CAA record with 17 assists Friday night against UNC Greensboro. Have a look at them all.
GET TO THE WHITE LINE!
No, this is not about the Grandmaster Flash song. I was helping Mike Voyack shoot a commercial today with Shaka Smart. I didn't do much, other than look like a plant. However, I noticed the same photo taped all over the locker room. Honestly, there were at least 20. It's a screen capture of a game from last season with the phrase, "Get to the white line!" written on it. To the untrained eye, it looks like just a pedestrian defensive series for VCU.
I asked Coach Smart what it was all about, and he basically said that at practice, they tape a white line down the middle of the floor, parallel to the sidelines. The idea is, when the ball is on one side of the floor, the defenders on the weak side need to get to the white line. Smart it allows the Rams to take more charges, an area of focus this season. In their exhibition with Virginia Union last week, VCU took five charges, three more than any game last season.
- VCU will be playing in the Charleston Classic next season. Very solid lineup. Considering that there's this field, plus (and don't take this as gospel) I believe games with Alabama (road), Akron (road) and South Florida (home) next season, the Rams are putting together a nice schedule.
- This has been posted elsewhere, but Pat Forde gives the VCU-ODU rivalry some love (ESPN.com).
- Ten Finest Names in the National Football League (Yahoo.com). Sadly, Jumpy Geathers retired years ago.
- Bleacher Report, which is sort of a website, did a NIT Season Tip-Off preview. They also provide an impressive barrage of Gillette advertising.
WHEN I GET DOWN...
This made me happier than anything last week. I could watch it 10 times a day. Dude in the Indians hat rules.
THE DAY AFTER. RANDOM THOUGHTS
VCU opened its 2010-11 basketball season with a 71-56 exhibition win over intra-city rival Virginia Union last night at the Siegel Center. There was plenty of good, bad and ugly to go around.
- Rob Freakin' Brandenburg! Months ago, there were rumors that Brandenburg may be redshirted due to VCU's gaggle of quality guards. I think we can put that to rest. Brandenburg was a revelation last night. In 14 minutes, Brandenburg scored 10 points and picked up three steals while supplying a ton of energy.
- Toby "Sweet Cut" Veal. Veal was active and aggressive. He had seven points, six boards and three blocked shots. He was quicker and more athletic than I expected. He's a very nice addition.
- The fans. 6,600 showed up last night, including a crowded student section. Color me impressed.
- Balance. Depth will be a strength of this team. Three players scored 10 points and three others had eight. They did that without starting point guard Joey Rodriguez, who was resting a tender ankle. VCU will have plenty of options, especially in the back court, where playing time won't come easy. Brandenburg's presumed emergence pushes Reco McCarter into the background. It will be interesting to see how Coach Shaka Smart divides the minutes.
- The Last 13 minutes of the first half. VCU turned a 10-7 deficit into a 41-19 halftime lead behind pressure defense and an all-out offensive blitz.
- Eight blocked shots, five chargest taken. No Larry Sanders? No problem. Veal had three blocks of his own and even Darius Theus picked up two of his own. Additionally, VCU took five charges last night, which is three more than in any game last season.
- VCU committed 17 turnovers, stunting the Rams' high-powered offense.
- Brandon Rozzell was just 4-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3-point range. VCU will need him to play better. The good thing is that he most certainly will.
- The Rams came out of halftime listless, and Smart yanked all five starters just 1:02 into the second half.
- Free throw shooting. VCU was a Halloween-esque 10-of-23 from the free throw line.
- Three point shooting. This team will take - and make - its share of 3-pointers. Last night was not a great night. VCU was just 7-of-22 (32 percent) from the arc.
- The second half. VCU watched as Virginia Union opened the second period with an 18-4 run to trim a 22-point halftime lead to 45-37 with 15:29 remaining.
- Freshman center D.J. Haley was active and looks like he can give the Rams some minutes in the post. He rebounded and defended well enough to earn more floor time. On the down side, his footwork and low post game appears to need work.
- Smart appears confident in playing Brad Burgess about anywhere on the floor. Burgess even handled the point for a short period last night. Although he'll play mostly at the three and four, Burgess could handle himself well at either guard spot.
- Darius Theus is maturing. Joey Rodriguez's absence last night was apparent, however, Theus was productive in the most extensive action of his career. In 31 minutes, he scored eight points and added five assists and four steals.
- Lapse Notwithstanding, Rams Thump Panthers (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- Union as Usual: VCU Rolls Over VUU for Seventh Straight Year (Commonwealth Times).
- VCU Ram Nation recently interviewed Jamie Skeen. Click here for that interview. Somehow Joey Rodriguez was compared to Brett Favre at one point. I'll let you track that down.
- McGregor McCance of the Petersburg Progress-Index blogged today that VCU was the best Division I basketball team in the state. VCU Best Hoops in the State? (Progress-Index). That's cool and everything, but this guy's name is McGregor McCance? McReally? I'm pretty sure I'd grow up angry with my parents.
- On Court Chemistry is Rams' Objective in Preseason Date with VUU (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
- I'll be blogging live from tonight's exhibition. Please stop by and say hello.
JUST IN CASE
I meant to post this yesterday, but I wanted to rant about the Big East. Blue Ribbon released its preview on VCU yesterday, via ESPN.com. Normally, this would only be available on ESPN Insider. Lucky for you the whole VCU preview is available. Team Preview: VCU (ESPN.com, via Blue Ribbon Yearbook).
FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT
Former Rams Krystal Vaughn and B.A. Walker have been named Players of the Month in Finland. As far as I know, Vaughn averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Walker dropped 22 points per game. You can check it out yourself. You speak Finnish, right?
The Google-translated versions are really worth the price of admission. B.A. Walker: "Kouvojen Walker Korisliigan months of looking." Sounds informative. Krystal Vaughn: "Top series john basket centrifuge Women Championship Player of October." Got all that?
GOLF INDOORS? SURE!
VCU InSight, a student media outlet here on campus, just put together a piece on VCU Golf's new Reynolds Center. Have a look. The reporter even went for the risky, but high-ceiling participation stand-up.
- A More Perfect Union (The Commonwealth Times). It's about basketball, so you'll probably read it.
- Happy Anniversary, Towson... (CAA Hoops). Mike Litos is checking in on the progress of the CAA schools that defected from the America East 10 years ago. Today, it's Towson, which means, it's ugly.
I HEAR THE DAKOTAS ARE NICE THIS TIME OF
Former Ram Michael Anderson (he likes it when you call him Mike Nice) will betrying out for the Dakota Wizards of the NBDL this week. Wish him luck through your television portal. Mike has bounced around a bunch, but it seems that his career is gaining momentum. He was always so physically talented, but I don't think his offensive skills caught up while he was at VCU. He could always defend, block shots, rebound, etc., but he was also known for at least one missed dunk or ill-advised 3-pointer a night. I wish him the best of luck. Mike was always classy with me. FYI, the Dakota Wizards are affiliated with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Washington Wizards, two crappy teams that could use a hungry pro like Michael Anderson along whe way. I mean, can you name three Washington Wizards, not including John Wall? I didn't think so.
You knew this football expansion stuff wasn't over, right? The Big East announced today it was looking to add two football schools. It has been previously rumored that Villanova, a CAA football member, has been invited. Other teams in the mix include Central Florida, East Carolina, Memphis and Temple, who the Big East actually kicked out of the league a few years ago. With any luck, the Big East Football Conference will finally be able to say, "hey, we're not as bad as the ACC!"
- We've spoken about this before, and finally my dreams have come true!! The McRib Returns (Yahoo).
- This tribute goes out to William & Mary and Old Dominion basketball coaches Tony Shaver (misnomer?) and Blaine Taylor. The 100 Manliest Mustaches in Sports History (BroBible).
- VCU hosts Virginia Union Thursday in the U.S. Army Downtown Showdown. Don't act like you didn't know. U.S. Army Downtown Showdown Set for Thursday (VCU Athletics).
- Happy Anniversary, Hofstra... (CAA Hoops).
The NBA season may have kicked off last night with the Celtics knocking off the Miami Heat, who apparently won the NBA title 14 times during the offseason.
Larry Sanders will make his NBA debut tonight in New Orleans at 8 p.m. against the Hornets. Bucks Gameday.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Eric Maynor will take on the new-look Chicago Bulls tonight at 8 p.m. The contest will be televised by ESPN. Visit the team's site for more info.
LET'S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY
City Stadium needs a tenant. Apparently, we've shown an interest. You're on your own to speculate. I'm not getting involved. VCU Expresses Interest in City Stadium (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
THIS LOOKS JUST LIKE MY LIVING ROOM
Oklahoma State has a new $4 million basketball locker room. Honestly, what does $4 million really buy these days anyway?
HERE TO STAY
Good news for Eric Maynor today. The Thunder picked up his third year option. In addition to a third season in Oklahoma City, the move also guarantees Maynor an additional $1.2 million, which is never a bad thing.
- Embrace Late October, Nobody is Wrong (CAAHoops.com).
- Fear the Fawn. Why the NBA Needs to Watch out for Larry Sanders (Bleacher Report).
- Sony Walkman Cassette Player, RIP (Yahoo.com). If you want to have some fun, dig out your old walkman and sit it down next to your iPod. Staggering how far the technology has come in a relatively short time.
- This is how you win a golf tournament.
HUGS AND ICE CREAM FOR EVERYONE
Congrats to the VCU Field Hockey team, which rolled to a 4-1 win at William & Mary Sunday and has clinched its first CAA Tournament bid since 2003. To celebrate, please watch this awesome video we did on the van Dessel Family. It's on the front page, but if you read this a few days later, you should probably be able to watch it on the field hockey page.
PREMATURE DEBATE OF THE OFFSEASON
I nominate this thread from VCURamNation.com for the premature debate of the year. Posters have been asked to rank senior Joey Rodriguez against the other point guards in VCU history. Considering that Joey has played a grant total of one season at the point and still has his senior season in front of him, this is sort of silly. I'm okay with a fun debate, but let's at least use his whole body of work.
You know how I know the VCU Field Hockey team is successful? For the first time since anybody can remember, the Times-Dispatch published a field hockey feature today. I've been here six years and this is the first time we've had a sniff of local press. This is progess. VCU's Different Double Dutch (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Big game for the Rams tonight at #20 Old Dominion. No big deal, just the biggest game in this series since it was cool to wear flannel shirts and Airwalks.
THE TYING GAME
I had a chance to drop by the VCU Men's Soccer game last night against UNC Wilmington. I'll tell you what, at least the Rams are consistent. Despite a number of great chances by VCU, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. That's VCU's sixth tie of the year. The Rams are 5-2-6 overall and 2-1-4 in CAA play. VCU might legitimately tie its way into the CAA Tournament. The Rams are tied for fourth, currently. The top four squads receive bids. The league race is far from over, however. Five points separate second and 12th place.
ONCE A TIGER, ALWAYS A TIGER?
VCU alum Brandon Inge will remain with the Detroit Tigers. Inge signed a two-year deal yesterday.
The VCU Volleyball and Men's Soccer squads will be promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month this weekend. You can get more info here. If you don't come out to support the Rams, please do so to support breast cancer awareness.
THIS IS WHY THEY DON'T GIVE ME A CAMERA
Scott Day was a step ahead of me this morning, posting a bunch of CAA Media Day links. Please have a look. I had the opportunity to interview a few people, Shaka Smart, Beth Cunningham, Blaine Taylor and Jim Larranaga. Please watch the video for the audio. The video, eh. I'm a noob at shooting indoors, so some of the settings weren't quite right. What can I say.
A gaggle of us sports info types will be headed up to Arlington, Va. tomorrow for CAA Basketball Media Day. I'll try to snag some interviews for you. You can follow along with some of the other goodies, live interviews, etc., via CAASports.com.
In case you missed it, we dropped in on Larry Sanders last week when the Bucks met the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center.This interview still looks pretty funny, because Larry is tall.
I've got two other videos in various stages of production, so look for those shortly.
Nice job this weekend by the VCU Volleyball and Field Hockey teams, which finished 2-0. The volleyball squad knocked off James Madison and first place George Mason, the latter in a five-set thriller. On Friday, senior Kelsie Clegg (a tall person) set the Rams' record for career blocks.
Meanwhile, the field hockey team is a revelation, no? With wins at Davidson and Appalachian State, VCU improved to 12-4. To put that in perspective, that's the first time the Rams have won 12 matches in a season since 1992. In 1992, I was gearing up for my high school homecoming dance (Go Fitch Falcons). The average price of gas in 1992 was $1.14. The Toronto Blue Jays (seriously) were on their way to their first World Series victory. This was the No. 1 song in the country.
MY FAVORITE VIDEO OF THE DAY
Sure, Atomic Tom just released a new album, and we may all be getting duped by a gorilla marketing campaign from Apple and/or the record company, but this is still pretty cool and inventive. Cue 10,000 imitators playing Stairway to Heaven on the Subway.
RAM ON THE RADIO
Shaka Smart will be dropping in on Greg Burton's "Hardly Workin'" today at 4:25 p.m. on ESPN 950 AM. That's on the radio. Your car probably has one. Or your boom box.
SHAKA SPEAKETH SOME MORE
Confirming what we all kind of knew anyway, you'll see the Rams use a smaller lineup at times this year. This means you'll see some Brad Burgess at the four and Jamie Skeen at the five. Rams May Go With Small Lineup at Times (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
I FAKED AN INJURY SO THAT I COULD LET MY INTERNS GET
MORE EXPERIENCE AT WORK TODAY
Mike Voyack and I will be at the Verizon Center tonight for the Milwaukee Bucks/Washington Wizards preseason game at 7 p.m. We're going to try to interview VCU's own Larry Sanders prior to the game for the interwebs. Additionally, I will be blogging live from the game. Follow along here. This is kind of a leap of faith, considering that Larry tweaked an ankle a few days ago. Hopefully, Larry will play a decent amount, or I'll end up discussing LeGone James and the feeling of sadness I get when I remember Mark Price as a member of the Washington Bullets. LIVE BLOG!
The start of men's basketball practice is hours away, for reals. Today, VCU beat writer Tim Pearrell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch took a look at one of the Rams' biggest questions this season. VCU Looks to Develop Inside Players (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
MMMMMMMM OF THE DAY
I've spoken about my love of the McRib on this blog before. I don't care if it doesn't contain ribs. Heck, it might not even contain actual meat. Whatever. It's delicious. Lovers of Elusive McRib Pork Patty Track Their Sightings (The Wall Street Journal).
IS THIS OUR NEW THEME SONG?
THE NCAA: WHERE PEANUT BUTTER IS SERIOUS
National Signing Day is coming up in a few weeks, which led to an e-mail reminder from compliance regarding some rules to which coaches and staff should adhere. Everything is covered, and I mean everything. This is a direct quote from the compliance powerpoint presentation that was e-mailed to VCU staffers:
FRUITS, NUTS AND BAGELS
"You can provide fruits nuts and bagles [sic] to at any time. However, you cannot have butter, cream cheese, or any other spread with the bagel."
Mike Voyack and I will be headed up to Washington, D.C. tomorrow night to visit with Larry Sanders. We'll throw something together for the website, possibly an on-camera interview, so you can look for that. I'll probably write a live blog as well, so stay tuned to VCUAthletics.com for details.
- CollegeHoops.net is naming their "144 Teams in 144 Days." We're through No. 72 as of this writing (in decending order) and no VCU yet. Feel free to follow along.
- Before I forget, I should plug my own work. Once Dormant VCU Comes Alive (Around The Horns).
- Mike Litos adapts famous Airplane! quotes for the CAA.
Remember. I Had The Lasagna... (CAAHoops.com). If you
haven't seen Airplane!, you've probably been living in a
cocoon, unless you're SID Scott Day, and then it's business as
usual. The guy hasn't seen Star Wars, seriously.
UPDATE: Apparently, Scott hasn't seen Airplane! either. It's like he was raised by wolves.
EVERYBODY LOVES LARRY
I know I love some Larry Sanders and I know you love some Larry Sanders, but you know who else loves them some Larry Sanders? Larry Brown does.
Larry (Sanders, not Brown) will be in Washington Thursday when
the Bucks meet the Wizards in exhibition play. It appears that I
will be there in the flesh to catch up with the big man. Stay tuned
- The VCU Men's Soccer Futbol team tied Old Dominion last night in a critical CAA matchup, 1-1. Ewww. You know what they say about ties. It's like kissing a soccer ball, or something. Familiar Territory: Double Overtime Brings Rams Another Draw (Commonwealth Times).
- Tons of Commonwealth Times love for the futbol team today. You're so money, you don't even know. The Track to Triumph: Men's Soccer Seeking Hardware Through Hard Work (Commonwealth Times).
- Now THIS is the kind of dedication I need to see. Potentially life-saving surgery or Michigan-Michigan State game? Football, obviously. Edit: We're all on the same page that this guy is completely out of his mind, right? Just checking.
We're barnstorming tonight at Champps at Stony Point. Southside, represent. Coach Shaka Smart and radio-man Robby Robinson will be there in the flesh. More importantly, I will be there, hoarding all the free appetizers I can get my hands on. I'm going to start working out with VCU Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose next week, so I need to bulk up that body-fat content.
MY NEW FAVORITE COMMERCIAL
I could care less about the Nissan Juke. Honestly, it looks like a car with a serious identity problem. But did you hear what this guy's name was? Kowalczyk. This will be helpful to any of you who actually want to know how to pronounce it. Listen closely. This fictional character is now the third-most famous Kowalczyk, behind Live lead singer Ed Kowalczyk and Polish cross country skier Justyna Kowalczyk. That's all we've got.
Larry Sanders raised the curtain on his NBA career (preseason career, anyway) last night in Milwaukee. The tall fella had seven points, two boards and a block in nearly 15 minutes against the Bulls. Not bad. Andrew Bogut didn't play last night, so I'm wondering if 15 minutes a game is a realistic expectation for Larry this season.
However, if he keeps hitting 60 percent of his shots, as he did last night, they'll find a spot on the floor for him. It's just like my dad said when I was growing up as an offensively challenged baseball player. "Keep playing defense and they'll find a spot for you." They did. The bench.
- The VCU/ODU Men's Basketball contest on Feb. 12 was named one of 68 must-see games for 2010-11 by Rush The Court. Strangely, the Towson/UNC Wilmington game didn't make the cut.
- Maybe at some point I'll do a CAA preseason prediction. In the meantime, I'll let UNCW beat writer Brian Mull have the floor. He picked VCU first, followed by ODU, Mason and Madison. Actually, I like most of Brian's picks, but I'll still be surprised if this is anything but a four-team race.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
I ran into Richmond Men's Basketball Coach Chris Mooney in the hallway today. Before all of you guys start getting up in arms, just know that Mooney was here to speak to a class at the Center for Sport Leadership. I know that Ram fans are probably throwing stuff and kicking poodles and what not as we speak. I've had a few dealings with Mooney and always found him to be a pretty decent guy. A few years ago, he actually agreed to speak at our Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID, for those in the know) annual meeting. That's kind of impressive, in my book. What coach in their right mind would want to hang out with a bunch of goofy stat nerds for an hour? So, I say bravo Mr. Mooney.
VCU-ODU futbol tonight at SportsBackers at 7 p.m. Get there. The Rams are back atop the CAA.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS
Larry Sanders gets his first pseudo-NBA action (read: not guys from the summer league who will be bagging groceries soon. Instead, guys who will be playing in Europe soon) tonight when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Chicago Bulls tonight in Milwaukee in preseason action at 8 p.m., Eastern. Here's a video preview from the Bucks' team site.
THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW
Larry Sanders will be hosting his first UStream chat tonight at 6 p.m. Hopefully, somebody will ask him to explain his new haircut. You can check that our here.
The Flying van Dessel sisters of VCU Field Hockey are tearing up the turf this year. The Commonwealth Times resently profiled the trio. Check it out.
WE'RE GOING VIRAL, BABY! WOOO!
BRACKETBUSTERS FIELD ANNOUNCED
Not that there is any major surprise in this, but the 2011 BracketBusters field was announced the other day. This year's field appears to favor quantity over quality. The 114 teams are the most in the nine-year history of the event. VCU will be on the road, that much we know. Just looking at the Rams' options, I'm not sure there's more than a couple of games to get excited about here. Just pray for a TV game. In my opinion, here are the most attractive possible matchups:
Long Beach State: It's in Long Beach,
Wright State: The Raiders had an RPI of 78 last year and have been a solid mid since 2006-07. Traveling to the exciting city of Dayton? Not so much.
Akron: Just kidding.
Wichita State: This may be the most attractive potential matchup. The Shockers had an RPI of 49 last year, are consistently good and have at least a little bit of name recognition.
Buffalo: Rams return to the city of the program's greatest win in a generation? Could be interesting.
Northern Iowa: A final RPI of 12 last year. Pretty much all I need to say. Rams could stop by Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa along the way.
College of Charleston: Always a solid mid and CoC is located in one of the most attractive cities available from this list.
Nevada: Yeah, we've been down this road before. At least it's in Reno. That can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
Siena: Again, a solid program with some recent national recognition to entice the fanbase.
New Mexico State: It's another game that would require a cross-country trek, but if NMSU's RPI remains near the mid-50s or better, like last year, then it would be worth it.
Saint Mary's: I have no idea with a Gael is, but this would still be a good RPI booster for VCU.
Out of all of these, Wichita State, Siena and Northern Iowa are probably ideal because A.) They're solid programs that would strengthen VCU's schedule this year and whenever the return game takes place. B.) The travel is reasonable.
DOG USING AN AUTO TUNE? SURE!
THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEO
Ten years ago, Mike Tyson was one of the most feared men in boxing history. Five years ago, he was just flat out scary. Today, he's completely hilarious. This is like the biggest image makeover since Ice Cube went from NWO to making kids movies.
ROUGH WATERS AT THE BEACH
I posted the link to Mike Litos' blog about the "resignation" of UNCW Athletic Director Kelly Mehrtens the other day. Honestly, I'm happy for the fans in Seahawk Land. I don't know Kelly Mehrtens, nor do I know the inner workings of the UNCW program. However, the atmosphere in Wilmington had gotten so toxic that I'm not sure there was another solution. As recently as 2006, the UNC Wilmington men's basketball program was the envy of the CAA. Now, that couldn't be farther from the truth. The rate at which the Seahawks fell from grace was staggering. There were a multitude of issues within the athletic department, but the failures of the men's basketball program were the most public and damning.
2000-01: 19-11, 12-6 CAA (CAA Champions, NCAA 1st Round)
2001-02: 23-10, 14-4 CAA (CAA Champions, NCAA 2nd Round)
2002-03: 24-7, 15-3 CAA (CAA Champions, NCAA 1st Round)
2003-04: 15-15, 9-9 CAA
2004-05: 19-10, 13-5 CAA
2005-06: 25-8, 15-3 CAA (CAA Champions, NCAA 1st Round)
2006-07: 7-22, 4-14 CAA
2007-08: 20-13, 12-6 CAA
2008-09: 7-25, 3-15 CAA
2009-10: 9-22, 5-13 CAA
THIS DAY IN VCU HISTORY
This may be the only item to sneak its way into the blog today, but it's a goodie. Courtesy of SID Scott Day. On this day in VCU history, Sept. 24, 2002, the VCU Women's Soccer team demolished Delaware State, 17-0 at Sports Backers Stadium. That is not a typo. 17 to zero. The Rams outshot the hapless Hornets, 61-0!. Three VCU players had hat tricks and eight scored goals.
- Great post from Mike Litos today on the Brad Kelleher eligibility situation over at Hofstra. NCAA Due Process is Due an Overhaul (CAAHoops.com).
- A little love for VCU Field Hockey recently. Junior keeper Erin Jablonski is off to a fantastic start in 2010 and it looks people in Charlottesville noticed. Manning the Goal (Daily Progress-Index).
- We brought you the men's basketball photo gallery the other day. Now, let's meet the 2010-11 VCU Women's Basketball squad.
- Seseme Street Yanks Controversial Katy Perry Duet (Yahoo.com). This makes me so sad. Keep your chin up, Katy.
- Congrats to former Ram Kirill Pishchalnikov, who signed a pro basketball contract with Russian club Spartak. We're very happy for Kirill, who was a fan favorite during his three years at VCU. Love the team name. Spartak. Sounds close to Sparta. Kirill, if you're reading this, I'll be expecting my Spartak t-shirt soon. That's 1300 West Broad St., Suite 2150, Richmond, VA 23284.
THE WORLD OF BORIS
Undercovers, VCU alum Boris Kodjoe's new series, debuted on NBC last night. I managed to catch the last 20 minutes or so. I thought it was decent. This was just the pilot, so I'll check it out again and see where it goes. Here's a few reviews of the show, if you're so inclined.
- NBC's 'Undercovers" Mixes Spy Work with Romance (Mercury News).
- TV Review: NBC's Undercovers (HitFix.com).
- Undercovers Series Premiere Review (Collider.com).
OK GO: MUSIC VIDEO SAVANTS
Basically, Ok Go makes the bestest music videos in the world and everybody else is just playing for second place. It's not close. They have four videos that are better than pretty much any other music video I've ever seen. That includes you, Lionel Richie.
Honestly, I think they were born half a generation too late. Had
they been around in the 80's, they would have completely dominated
MTV and bee the biggest band in the world. Instead, the channel is
now a reality TV landfill. Real World-Road Rules Challenge The
Inferno Meets the Jersey Shore on My True Life Sweet 16? Sign me
up! In high school, I watched two channels, MTV and ESPN. Now, I'd
rather watch be locked in a dungeon and forced to watch Lifetime
and Oxygen for a month straight than spend five minutes on MTV.
End rant. Consider Ok Go's most recent effort for "White Knuckles". One shot, a billion dogs and all kinds of awesome.
Additionally, I had seen the band's Rube
Goldberg video for "This Too Shall Pass" (possibly the
greatest music video ever), but only saw the original video for the
song (yes, they made two) the other day. Notre Dame Marching Band?
Sure, why not?
Then, there's the video that strted it all for the group. The famous "Treadmill Video" for the song "Here it Goes Again". Seriously, after watching these, I defy you to find me somebody better. And before you accuse me of being a fanboy, I'll let you know that I have literally four Ok Go tracks on my iPod, that's it. I like a few of their singles. Their videos, however, are spectacular.
- Tommy Lopez and Rams Review have been producing weekly recaps of VCU Athletics. Here's their entry for Sept. 20. (RamsReview.com). I would embed the video, but apparently I'm too much of a noob to embed Vimeo vids.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shoutout to the Commonwealth Times, which has been pretty much on top of things this year.
- ESPN.com videos with some of the NBA's incoming rookies. Larry Sanders is noticably absent, but if you look close, you can see his fro-hawk in the upper left of the header.
MASCOTS ARE SO CUTE
My alma mater, Ohio University, may have taking a serious beating at the hand of Ohio State this weekend (43-7, ouch), but at least we won the battle of the mascots. Take that, Brutus. But seriously, look at Rufus the Bobcat. Look how high he hits Brutus. Completely unacceptable. If you want to win the battle in the trenches, you've got to hit a man low. Rodney the Ram should not attempt this.
Now this is how you do it, courtesy of the Oregon (don't call me
a Donald ripoff) Duck.
A website, One Great Season, tracked down the now former Rufus the Bobcat to ask him about the incident. His answers were about as hilarious as I would hope. My favorite:
Did you make any kind of apology to Brutus?
Hanning: He wasn't too happy about it. Whenever they scored, he'd run over and throw his hands up at me and then run away.I'm not going to apologize, but he did just add me on Facebook today.
MORE MASCOT-ON-MASCOT VIOLENCE
- Mascot fight at 2008 Summit League Championships.
- Mascots duke it out at World Basketball Association Championship. Has anybody ever heard of this league?
- Wisconsin Badger levled by Michigan State Spartan.
- Apparently, the Oregon Duck has a short fuse.
- Coastal Carolina Chicken-thing vs. James Madison Duke Dog.
BORIS KODJOE EVE
We're exactly one day away from VCU alum and former Rams' tennis player Boris Kodjoe taking over network television. The dude is straight money. Jack Bauer, eat your heart out.
BACK IN THE BOOGIEDOWN
It's nice to be home. In the last five weeks, I've been a party to four work trips totaling 6,750 miles. This past weekend it was Denver and Fort Collins, Colo. Both are awesome and I would recommend them. I would not recommend, however, the 6 a.m. flight from Denver to Atlanta to Richmond. You can live without it.
I know you guys are jonesing for something, anything, basketball. VCU Basketball photo day? Yes, please. You may notice photo No. 30, which has Rams' Coach Shaka Smart skyhooking, ala Kareem. It's a photo that all but assures that SID Scott Day will ride underneath the bus with the baggage this season.
Also, please note the return of the gold jerseys. I couldn't be happier. The gold jerseys are so much sharper than anything else we can run out there. If we wore the gold at home, blacks on the road and the whites never, I'd be happy with that too. Orrrrrrrr, if we wore golds on the road and whites at home, that would work too. I've thought about this a little bit. Maybe I've said too much. Moving on...
More basketball? Absolutely. Jim Swing of the Commonwealth Times, who kind of reminds me of Jim from The Office, recently sat down with Men's Basketball Director of Operations Kyle Getter to talk scheduling.
THE VIDEO THAT WOULDN'T GO AWAY
I spent the weekend traveling with the VCU Volleyball team. This is the video that just wouldn't go away. One of those things that somebody sees and then circulates. Meet Keegan Cahill. He's pretty, um, enthusiastic about pop music.
100 WEST STATE STREET DOMINATING ESPN
Big props to my former college housemate Jared Puffer, who became the first member of 100 West State Street from the 1999-2000 school year to make it onto ESPN (intentionally). You'll notice him at about 1:15 in the light blue shirt. Seriously Jared. Baby blue? You're better than that.
GREETINGS FROM JOHN ELWAYVILLE
Hello from Colorado. I'm traveling with volleyball this weekend to Colorado State, as well as the Denver. We're in Fort Collins right now, home of the Colorado State Rams, who are ranked 14th in the nation. VCU will square off with the "other" Rams tonight at 7 p.m. Mountain Time, 9 p.m. back in VCU Land.
As you might expect, we flew into Denver through Atlanta because, you know, it's on the way and everything. It's beautiful out here. It's my first time in the state of Colorado, unless you count the magical world of South Park. What you might not know about Fort Collins is that it's essentially located in a a desert. It's so nice, that I'm willing to forget that the first two locals I met last night were completely insane. Those stories are for another time.
- VCU held a grand opening for its new indoor practice facility yesterday at Richmond First Tee. It sounds like a great idea for my golf game. That's much less time I'd spend in the woods.
- Nice win for men's soccer yesterday over Richmond. The Commonwealth Times was there with an account of the Rams' 3-1 win.
- Shaka Smart was been selected to vote in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. It would be very hard for me not to just toss a vote in for the Colorado School of Mines every week.
I NEED THIS ALARM CLOCK
Seriously. I need this. Ask anybody.
DUKES HAVE THEIR DAY
Congratulations to all of the James Madison fans out there for the big win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. If you've been on the moon or something, here's a link. Here's my question. Is this win bigger than the school's 2004 I-AA National Championship victory? Certainly this is worth more publicity, no? It'll probably be irrelevant in a few years anyway. JMU is going I-A (I don't care what it's technically called now) in football in a few years. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it.
Here's my favorite JMU-ish link from all of this. Just be careful the next time you start making promises on the internet. Crazy stuff might happen. Your team might actually win. Real men follow through. If JMU Beats Tech... (CAAZone.com).
YOU KNEW SHAKA WAS SMART
If nothing else, Shaka Smart knows how to pick a college, VCU included. Forbes just released its list of the most beautiful college campuses in the world. Smart's alma mater, Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, is featured prominently.
Seriously? I'm kidding. We have a whole website for this stuff.
- Law & Order turns 20 today. Believe it.
- Apparently, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds hasn't hit an infield popup all season? That's pretty sick. I can't get through three games of beer league softball without jamming a ball 90 feet high and 50 feet from home plate.
- Gerald Lee, formerly of Old Dominion and a thorn in VCU's side, has signed a pro contract with an Italian League squad. Lee can probably carve out a career as a poor man's Tim Duncan over there. Note to ODU fans, I was being complimentary. No need to start firing off e-mails again.
THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, MAN
I was going to come in here today and congratulate VCU Alum Frank Moser, who scored a doubles title at the Citta Di Como (whatever that means) with David Skoch. Sure, I'd normally be happy for the guy, until I see that he defeated Martin Emmerich and Mateus Kowalczyk in the final. I can't stand for somebody rolling my 19th cousin, twice removed, in doubles tennis. I'm going to give my boy Mateus a call, and we're going to stage a rematch on the racquetball courts over at Cary Street. You're on notice, Moser.
All kinds of goodies today.
- Bucks Newcomers Get a Jump on Training Camp (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). Heavy on Larry Sanders references, you dig?
- Scott Sizemore Back With Tigers, Unlikely to Play Much in Stretch (Detroit Free Press).
- CAA Tournament: Coliseum to Remain Host (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Cue an outcry from Old Dominion fans. Haters gonna hate.
- Flying Squirrels: Leader Reiterates Need for New Stadium (Richmond Times-Dispatch). This situation will certainly impact VCU in some way.
- How would you like it if, before one of the biggest games of the season, your hometown newspaper basically goaded the opposing fans into making your life miserable. I think the Miami Hurricanes can now relate. The Horseshoe is Hardly Hostile (Miami Sun Sentinel).
- Here's your Headline of the Day. As if we didn't already know. Fist pumps for everyone!
- Roger Goodell Urges Jets to Have More Sensible Goals Than Winning the Super Bowl (The Onion).
TALES FROM THE MINIBUS
I traveled with volleyball again this weekend. The Rams played in the Hampton Inn Classic at Penn State University. That was only the second time I've been to State College, but I am impressed by that place. I'm also impressed that they packed 4,600 into their sweatbox gym for our match with the top-ranked Nittany Lions Saturday night. I defy you to find a more uncomfortable arena than Rec Hall was Friday night when VCU played Colgate. I was slow roasting, like rotisserie chicken.
Anyway, I wish I could be the one to tell you that the Rams fought the good fight, played the role of David to a tee and shocked the volleyball world, but I can't do that. Penn State has won the last three national championships for a reason. That's 108 matches in a row for those of you scoring at home.
But enough with actual games. The real fun came on the way home. Apparently, the brakes on our bus (our second of the trip) were shot, so we rode back to Richmond in a 25-seat minibus. The bus above isn't the actual vehicle, but resembles it. No real place to hide when that happens. So, if the players want to watch 10 Things I Hate About You, you're going to watch it. Great cast, great start, weeeaaaak finish. They trick you with an edgy start and actually make you believe you're not watching a chick flick.
PHOTO STORE NOW OPEN
The photo store is now open at VCUAthletics.com. We're offering a free 9x12 print to kick things off. I'm going to use this opportunity to get my favorite Eric Maynor-related photo printed. Click here to check out the VCU Athletics photo store.
WIN ONE FOR THE GIFFER
Congrats are in order for VCU Men's Soccer Coach Dave Giffard, who recorded his first VCU victory yesterday, 2-0 over Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers! It's fast becoming one of my favorite college mascots, along with the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the UC Davis Anteaters, but I digress. Congrats to Giff.
Nice weekend for the VCU Field Hockey team. After a couple of heartbreakers the previous week, the Rams throttled Northwestern and Saint Joseph's Friday and Saturday, respectively. VCU is 2-2 and its two losses were single-goal defeats to Boston University and Albany, currently ranked 15th and 18th respectively. This week, the Rams garnered 49 votes in the NFHCA Coaches Poll. VCU is listed 27th and can make some noise this week with road contests at Richmond and No. 5 Princeton.
TRICK PLAY OF THE WEEK
Speaking of David vs. Goliath, check out Presbyterian's trick play against Wake Forest Saturday. Sure, they still got pounded, 53-13, but this will look good on the end-of-the-year highlight reel.
It's a little crazy in The Boogiedown right now, so the Daily Blog has suffered a tad. My bad. I blame Canada. Here's a few noteworthy links that have cropped up the last few days.
- Tough break for former VCU Basketballer and English gentleman Nick George, whose balky knees have forced him out of the game. Nick was the star of the team my first year at VCU in 2005-06. The man could do it all. I wish him the best.
- Adam Stern, the new sports editor of the Commonwealth Times, wrote an article about the prospect of football at VCU. Naturally, the topic exploded on the internet forums for the 307,004th time.
- With college football right around the corner, Nike has rolled out its 2010 "Pro Combat" uniforms for 10 select schools. These are roughly as awesome as they are absurd. Of all these schools, can somebody explain how Oregon State luckboxed its way into this group? The funny thing is that Oregon is not included in this group, but that's because they already have the most ridiculous uniforms in this history of sports.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Not much to see here, just a kid in a wheelchair pulling off a double backflip.
WORLD TOUR OF OHIO
So, I'm back after four days in my home state of Ohio with the VCU Volleyball team. The Rams played four matches and visited Dayton, Columbus and, my personal favorite, Athens, home of Ohio University. There wasn't too much time for sight-seeing, but at least I got to spend some time at my alma mater.
Tough weekend for the Rams. VCU went 0-4 against a brutally tough schedule that included Ohio (seven straight NCAA bids), Ohio State (just out of the top 25), No. 21 Dayton and Arizona State (the whole Pac-10 is great in volleyball, trust me on this).
One fun development came Friday night at Ohio State, when the Buckeye students began ribbing Rams' Head Coach James Finley about his wardrobe choice. Sure, it sure looks like it's straight from Charlie Harper's wardrobe from Two-and-a-Half Men, but it's still a pretty cool coaches shirt. I'll let you judge for yourself. For what it's worth, Finley was laughing about it the next day. You have to give the fans credit for being funny, especially when one breaks a particularly quiet moment with, "Charlie Sheen called. He wants his shirt back!" Well played, sir.
The Rams will be at No. 1 Penn State this upcoming weekend. Rumor has it the whole VCU staff will be dressing up as Joe Paterno.
PENN STATE FUN FACTS
Here's some fun facts about Penn State Volleyball.
1. The Nittany Lions have won three consecutive national championships, a first at the Division I level.
2. PSU has won 105 straight matches, an NCAA Volleyball record.
3. Penn State has been ranked No. 1 in 64 AVCA Top 25 Coaches Polls, about 16 percent since the poll began in 1982. They've been ranked in the top 10 59 percent of the time during the last 28 seasons.
4. The Lions last defeat came on Sept. 15, 2007, a 3-2 loss to Stanford at the Yale Classic.
It was a tough weekend for VCU Athletics, so we're going to wag the dog. That's what I do. I'm an opiate for the masses.
- Dick Vermeil Tears Up During Lou Pinella's Last Press Conference (The Onion).
- Pretty sure they didn't draw this play up this way.
- You do not want to play this cat in Duck Hunt.
- I was just in Dayton, Ohio yesterday with volleyball. Unfortunately, we did not see anything like this accident on 675.
ONE-HIT WONDER OF THE DAY
Since our new website launched a couple of weeks ago, we've had more than 2.5 million hits, which is fantastic. They've come from all over, including today's "One Hit Wonder", Guam. Yup, we've literally had one hit from Guam. So today, we salute you.
Located in the western Pacific Ocean, Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States. The island's capital is Hagatna. The island is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. It was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the first Spanish colony was established in 1668. I guess they couldn't make up their mind for 147 years if they liked the island or not.
It belonged to Spain until it was surrendered to the United States in 1898 as part of the Treaty of Paris following the Spanish-American War. Guam was captured by the Japanese on Dec. 8, 1941, a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and remained under Japanese occupation for more than two years.
Currently, Guam's economy is supported by its principle industry, tourism. Guam's second-largest source of income is the United States military.
If that's not good enough for you, there's always this one-hit
ANOTHER ONE RIDES THE BUS
By the time most of you read this, I'll likely be somewhere in Appalachia. I'm traveling with the VCU Volleyball team to pretty much every city in Southern Ohio this weekend, and the bus pulled out at 5:30 a.m. The Rams play Ohio University in Athens Friday morning, hop on the bus, drive to Columbus, play Ohio State that evening, then head to Dayton for Saturday and Sunday.
Ohio University is my alma mater, so I admit to looking forward to pulling into Athens. I spent four-and-a-half great years there (we can't all graduate in four), most of which I remember. Meet me at Penny Lane Pub Monday for college stories. No need to get this blog mysteriously pulled from the interwebs.
It'll be pretty odd, playing at The Convo, OU's arena. I don't think I've been back in the building since my graduation ceremony (the recently, "retired" Helen Thomas was my graduation speaker).
Either way, it should be an interesting weekend. I'll try to shoot some video (volleyball on the road, something in that vein). We're all still getting used to all this new equipment. For the volleyball team, it'll be Ohio, Ohio State, Dayton and Arizona State. Pretty much no gimmies.
So that you think of me today while you're in the office, I give
- Make sure you visit the VCUAthletics.com Video Guide. We've got a bunch of new stuff up there right now, including a field hockey preview, two videos from our trip to Chicago, and hopefully by the time you read this, a volleyball preview as well.
- If you enjoy 30-plus page pdf documents, I know I do, feel free to download the CAA Men's Basketball Preview from the league. Lots of notes and stats in there, as well as updated rosters and what not.
I'll find some more stuff later, since 5:30 a.m. comes waaaay too early. Besides, I've still got to salue Botswana or some other country, so there's that to look forward to.
AT VCU, INTERNET SURF YOU
There are many bells and whistles associated with the brand new website. We've got improved video, live stats, photo galleries and menus that actually work. However, the coolest thing, in my mind, is all the new data we have available to us. With a wisk of a few clicks, I can check our daily traffic and find out how many people are downloading all those riveting NCAA compliance forms.
I can also track where our hits are coming from. Before, we had
no way of knowing, but now, I can tell you that VCU is a global
juggernaut. Sure, 94.22 percent of our hits are from the United
States, but that 5.78 percent is all international flavor. I bet
you never knew we got hits from Columbia, Taiwan and Turkey. Me
neither. Check this out. So far, we've gotten one hit from these
Awesome. In honor of our ever-expanding global reach, I'm going to honor each of these countries. Today, we thank Armenia.
According to Wikipedia, The Democratic Republic of Armenia was formed on May 28, 1918, but was annexed by Soviet Russia after World War I. It declared its independence on Aug. 23, 1990 (happy anniversary, Armenia) and is currently an emerging democracy.
With a population of 3.3 million, Amenia is divided into 10 provinces. The largest city is Yerevan (1.1 million), which lies in the...wait for it...Yerevan province.
The climate is continental. The summers are sunny and dry and
winters are cold with plenty of snow.
Agriculture accounts for more than 30 percent of the country's gross national product and more than 40 percent of total employment.
Famous people of Armenian descent include Andre Agassi, Cher (Cherylin Sarkissian), Princess Diana, Garry Kasparov, former Notre Dame Football Coach Ara Parseghian and Jerry Tarkanian.
Thanks Armenia! We salute you!
A FACE MADE FOR RADIO
As many of you remember, Scott Day and I spent the better part of last week in Chicago, visiting with former Rams Sean Marshall of the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Dykstra and Gonzalo Segares of the Chicago Fire. We wrote some stuff and shot some video as well. In the clip below, you'll see that everything does not always go as planned. We were shooting a package on Segares, who was recently reaquired by the Fire. I had already shot a stand-up for the piece, but wanted to have another one, just in case. I guess we ran out of time.
MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010
Temporary as it may be, this is where the Around The Horns Daily Blog will reside. Hopefully, we'll have something more permanent soon, but while I'm here, I might as well do some housekeeping. After staring at the goofy office shot for more than a year, I decided to make a change. Although this headshot looks fairly ridiculous, considering the tone of this blog, we'll give it a spin - at least until tomorrow, when I find something that's actually funny...I mean...appropriate.
Last weekend, my wife looked at our fall schedules and said, "I guess this is your last weekend off?" Urg. Hello, reality.
So, this weekend we got our first looks at men's and women's soccer, plus field hockey and volleyball. Everybody was a winner (especially
volleyball, which played, um, itself), save men's soccer. Dave
Giffard's bunch can certainly be excused from their 1-0 loss to
Virginia, which was the National Champion last year in men's
soccer. Considering last season's 5-10-2 record, I'd say we're seeing marked
The reoccuring theme on all of these squads is change. Volleyball has eight new faces, same for field hockey. The women's soccer team features 12 newcomers, while the men's futbol squad will showcase 18 brand new players. Yes, 18. Change is on the horizon.
PRESEASON NIT PREVIEW
This hit the forums over the weekend, but here's a breakdown of the preseason NIT, via Rivals.com. Looks like there are some VCU believers out there. New York or bust.
- My favorite headline of the day: Thunder's Krstic fears FIFA ban for role in brawl (ESPN.com). Um, yeah bro, you threw a chair. Who do you think you are, Allen Iverson?
- Pittsburgh Pirates win by losing, financial documents show (ESPN.com). Over at 1200 West Broad Street, VCU Senior Associate AD Jeff Cupps, a long suffering Pirates fan, is throwing computers right now.
- This Oakland A's ballboy has game (I now he's a ballboy, but seriously).
THANK YOU, INTERNET
That internet is going to be huge someday. Here's why. You take two awesome YouTube videos, and you make them into one super mega awesome clip. Besides, who doesn't like pandas?
Welp, after three days in the Windy City, we're back in the Capital City... Back to the grind.
This marks the first full weekend for VCU athletics in 2010-11 with women's soccer hosting Longwood in the season opener on Friday, men's soccer taking on defending national champ UVA in an exhibition match on Friday, field hockey posting up against Radford in an exhibition match on Saturday and volleyball hosting the Black & Gold scrimmage on Sunday.
(pause for water break)
Here's the GameDay Central Links for Men's and Women's Soccer so you guys can follow along with all the action, we've added Cover It Live to our repretriore this year, so don't miss out on your chance to talk with our staff, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
While we were out in Chicago, we managed to get some things accomplished with video features coming on Sean Marshall, Andrew Dykstra and Gonzalo Segares.
A written piece on Marshall's success during yet another dissappointing year for the Cubs was delievered on Thursday. Check that out here.
One of the cooler things that happened out in Chicago was that we pretty much walked right onto the set of Transformers 3. We tried to get as much footage of everything going on, but they had little peons moving people along so you couldn't record too much action.
Although she isn't cast in this batch, we were hoping to see Megan Fox boycotting or something, but alas that didn't happen. Maybe next time Ms. Fox, maybe next time.
- Shaka Smart's Early Contract Extention (ESPN.com)
- The Tangible Value of Intangibles (Basketball Prospectus)
SOUND EFFECT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Hollywood is concerned about the environment. That's why they've been recycling for years. Just look how they've recycled sound effects.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010
Greetings from Chicago. Scotty Day and I are out here scouring the Second City for deep dish pizza and the Chicago Cubs World Series mojo.
Actually, we paid a visit to former Ram Sean Marshall last night at Wrigley Field. Look for a brand new feature on the lanky southpaw, as well as video evidence. Tonight, we’re headed to see the Chicago Fire. Two former Rams, Andrew Dykstra and Gonzalo Segares, are playing for the Fire these days, and we’re going to be bringing brand new stories for VCUAthletics.com.
Anyway, I’m beyond stoked about the website change. As much as I enjoyed waiting 10 minutes for the old page to load, time out and malfunction, I think this will be for the better. Now, I can spend more time finding you great content. What a novel idea. So, stay tuned, and hopefully I’ll find something better to post than that dreadful mug shot on the right.
We've posted a couple of new features to coincide with today's launch.The first relates to Shaka Smart's daily habit of recording great quotations. It was a fun story to write and hope you enjoy.
MORE THAN WORDS (Around The Horns).