During the months of March and April it was tough to find anyone not wearing Black & Gold around the Metro Richmond area. After their beloved VCU Rams captured the hearts of the whole nation, the power of "Ram Nation" was truly on display.
It should come as no surprise then that the Rams took home four "Best of Richmond" titles in Richmond Magazine's annual Best & Worst List.
After the historical 2011 NCAA Final Four run, the men's basketball team not only put VCU on the map, but the City of Richmond as well. For this reason, VCU Rams in the Final Four was named as the "Biggest Claim to Fame for Richmond."
As the "Biggest Claim to Fame" it's only natural that the City creates a monument of some sort in honor of the man that led them to Houston. Head Coach Shaka Smart was selected as the "Best Candidate for a Monument Avenue Statue." Smart would be joining the ranks of tennis-great Arthur Ashe and many other historic figures that call the River City's main drag home.
According to Smart it's an honor he may not mind having.
"I love Richmond. Great people, great fans and the home of one of the most dynamic institutions in the country," Smart said.
The reaches of the post-season success went beyond the state limits however, and as last month's ESPY win proved, Smart and his team are recognized nationally. This factor makes Shaka Smart and the VCU men's basketball team the "Best Richmond Ambassador."
Part of the reason the Rams received so much attention was due to the fact that the team was a Cinderella story of sorts and garnered plenty of media focus. Video clips, stories and photos of the games were scattered around the Internet, securing the VCU Final Four journey highlights as the "Best YouTube Moment" of the year. From game footage, to the Shaka Smart song, to video of the team being welcomed back home by fans at the Siegel Center following their Elite Eight defeat of No. 1 seeded Kansas; the Rams took the viral world by storm.
The nods from Richmond Magazine mean a lot to those associated with VCU, and the city the university calls home. Richmond native, Brandon Rozzell, said he is grateful for the treatment he and the team have received.
"One of the best parts of the whole thing for me was coming back home and seeing all the support that we got from the city," Rozzell said. "This is where I grew up and I love this place. The city truly embraced us and the amount of love that we got from everyone was unbelievable."