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Friday, 27 March 2015

In one days’ time the streets of Richmond will be filled with runners, joggers, and walkers in what will be the 16th iteration of the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Held by Richmond event manager Sports Backers, the race is one of the largest and most popular annual get-togethers in RVA. In what is considered Richmond’s favorite fitness gathering, more than 36,000 registered runners will show up to attempt to set personal records, or simply just to have fun. The 10k caters to runners of all skillsets, and the wave starts insure that no one has to feel uncomfortable with their abilities. 2015 will also represent the 2nd year in a row that the 10k serves as the “Collegiate Running Association’s Road Race Championship,” an event that is nationally recognized, and is putting Richmond on the map.  

10kStatuePeople coming from far and wide (45 different states!) will flock to enjoy the festivities and the competition. Over the years the 10k has evolved into an extremely culturally significant event for the city, and something that people circle on their calendars months in advance. The race receives countless spectators in what is essentially a block party on Monument Avenue. This year should be the biggest and best yet, with over 30 bands playing, including several local and nationally recognized acts, as well as food vendors and porch parties all along the street. This will also be the first year that Sports Backers will be giving out medals to the winners, something that all runners strive to be able to wear with pride.

 The Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k is just another reason why Richmond has been garnering attention in the national, as well as global fitness spotlight. The city is flourishing with culture and a healthy mindset, and this Saturday will serve to represent RVA’s perfect mixture of the two. Everyone should go out tomorrow to check out the runners, the food and music, and to enjoy all that our wonderful city has to offer. Also, don’t forget to wear a crazy costume for a chance to win the Richmond Time’s Dispatch Costume Contest! Stick with SportsRichmond for more information and pictures of the event tomorrow. It’s Monumental!

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Basketball
  
Friday, 20 March 2015

Another VCU basketball season has come and gone and 2011 remains the only time in VCU’s basketball history that the team made it to the second weekend. The Final Four run becomes more and more amazing as each year passes and the improbability of the run is magnified. The question remains whether VCU is a national program or a mid-major team with a fluky run one year.

 

The common rallying cry from VCU’s fan base after the loss was that at least they won the A-10 tournament, which is great accomplishment and shouldn’t be diminished at all. To be able to rebound after losing Briante Weber and be able to hang a banner is a testament to the coaching of Shaka Smart and the determination of the players.

 

However, teams are judged by what they do in March Madness. Regular season and conference tournament titles are nice for mid-major programs, but for major programs if they don’t make a deep run in March, the season is considered a failure. Hanging your hat on winning the conference tournament and being happy to just be in the NCAA is something mid-majors do.

 

The Rams haven’t been close to making the second weekend the past three years: getting obliterated by Michigan in the round of 32 in 2013 and losing in the first round the past two seasons. They lost two heartbreaking close games in OT the past two years, but were still another win away from making a Sweet 16 appearance.

 

However, there is also an argument that VCU is a very strong program that can compete with national powerhouses. There are many things people can point to defend this line of thinking. VCU has made the Big Dance five straight years, the first time a team from the commonwealth of Virginia has done so. Shaka Smart is considered one of the best young coaches in the game and is rumored for any big-time job opening annually. Smart’s 163 career wins in his first six seasons as a head coach is tied for second-most all-time. With 26 wins this season, the Rams joined Duke as the only schools to reach 26 wins the past six seasons. ESPN Recruiting Nation has the 2015 class of recruits ranked 26th nationally. This year’s freshman class was ranked 14th best class nationally coming out of high school last year. A 25 million dollar practice facility is currently being constructed, a hallmark of all big-time programs.

 

The answer to the question posed in the title is currently is somewhere in between and the final answer is still to be determined. Making the tournament five straight years and being nationally ranked for parts of those seasons is not something a one year wonder does. Smart’s program is better than an average mid-major, but in order to reach the next level he needs to achieve more consistent success in March.

 

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Basketball
  
Thursday, 12 March 2015

RVAlogo

Well folks, they always say that the third time is the charm. Tomorrow in Brooklyn VCU will be playing the University of Richmond for the third time this season. The Rams and The Spiders will get a chance to advance in the A10 tournament with a win. Almost equally importantly, however, will be the fact that the two teams from the RVA ended their last match-up in a double overtime thriller. The Rams have struggled toward the end of the season, while The Spiders enter the tournament with a six game winning streak. In what is sure to be the most intense of the three cross-town rivalry matchups, VCU will need to be aggressive and come out looking to score and attack the rim early. Richmond, on the other hand, will need to continue playing the type of defense that shut down The Rams in the first two meetings.


#5 VCU @ #4 Richmond – 3/13 2:30pm on NBCSN.

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Basketball
  
Wednesday, 11 March 2015

It’s been about two weeks since the Spiders defeated the Rams in what will surely be considered the best game of the long-standing RVA rivalry. Richmond finished off the season after that game by winning their last three games. The A10 conference tournament begins today at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn NY, and things are looking good for The University of Richmond. They are currently 4th place in the A10 above VCU, and will play their first game on Thursday March 13th. The Spiders get to sit out the first two days and watch as their first opponent is determined between VCU, Fordham, or George Mason, three teams that the Spiders have defeated this year. As much as I want the Spiders to face Fordham or George Mason because they are easier matchups, I would be lying if I said a third game against VCU wouldn’t be extremely exciting. Barclays

With the way Richmond has finished off this season, winning six straight and moving up the standings in the A10, they are primed to face any team in Brooklyn this week. As the hottest team in the A10, the Spiders are riding high right now. Shawn’Dre Jones was just named the A10 Sixth Man of the Year, coming off the bench to average over 10ppg for the Spiders, an award that should boost his confidence, as well as that of the team as a whole. After an inconsistent beginning to the season, the Spiders have finally hit their stride, and look to not only win the A10 Tournament, but also to surge into the NCAA Tournament. It has been four years since their incredible Sweet 16 appearance and this looks like it could be the year to repeat. Of course this is all wildly optimistic, but the Richmond Spiders have not disappointed this year, and clearly they have something very big to prove. More coverage to follow as things get underway in Brooklyn. Stick with SportsRichmond for all your UR and VCU news.

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Basketball
  
Thursday, 26 February 2015

Kris Mason (VCU): As a VCU fan, this was a crushing loss for the Rams. This game featured so many ups and downs, but let’s take a look back at some key moments. Let’s start with the Spiders having a commanding 16 point lead in the 2nd half. What was the thought process on the Spiders’ fans perspective at the point? 

Greg Caple (UR): We were thinking that we had the game in the bag. I think confidence might have gotten to our players as well. Our defense was on fire and Shawn'Dre was shooting the lights out. What started your comeback? 

KM: The people I was watching with had started discussing what food we were gonna get after the game because we assumed the game was over. But VCU slowly chipped away, partially because UR's offense went cold as well. Treveon was obviously key, scoring 17 points in the second half, making buckets as well as getting to the foul line. Then Melvin Johnson finally made a 3 point shot all a sudden UR lead cut to 52-49 with 36 seconds left. What was the atmosphere in the stadium like at that point?  PART_1424911214069_IMG_1941

GC: Well we have lost so many games this year by such small margins that we were thinking that we were about to do it again. It was looking bad and we were praying that we could just hang on. It made the game much more intense though. 

KM: Ok VCU is gonna foul UR as soon as the inbound- wait MO ALIE COX with the interception-like steal!! Looking like the NFL tight end that every TV announcer is obligated to mention once a game. Graham for 3 to tie... and it’s an air ball. Game over right? Kendall Anthony on the line, he’s automatic.  Were people heading out of the Robin’s center at that point? 

GC: Absolutely not. We wait every year for this game and we were holding our breath until that clock ran out. No one left. The screams were deafening. It was a looking great. We had Graham pushed back to about 30 feet away with around seven seconds left. Then you know what happened. 

KM: Treveon with another clutch 3! Another one to add to his legendary performance one against UVA, SLU earlier this year. While he won’t break the school’s all-time scoring record, he will go down as one of the greatest players of all time. Just when you think we are safe Richmond throws up a wild, off balance shot that bounces on the rim three times before falling off. Heart stopping play. Did you think that was in from your view in the student section? 

GC: Let’s go to the end of the first OT now: 

Well now we are purposely fouled and down by 3 are thinking that it's all over. We managed to blow the halftime lead and now we are down in OT. Shawn'Dre is on the line shooting two but we need three points. He has had such a great game that we hope he doesn't accidentally make the second basket. Well Shawn'Dre made the first so people weren't ready to leave just yet. We knew that we needed something crazy to happen. He purposefully missed the second and VCU knocked it out of bounds. Suddenly we had a chance. We inbounded the ball on the baseline and somehow T.J. Cline was left open right under the basket. Tie game. The place went absolutely insane. 

KM: Unbelievable. Jarred Guest should have grabbed that rebound after the intentional miss and it would have been game over. But on the inbound Jordan Burgess did the one thing u want to deny, a layup at the basket. In that situation at least make them shoot a contested jumper. With two of our big men out in Justin Tillman and Mike Gilmore, our bench is shorter than normal and the rams are exhausted. Not feeling great about double OT. 

GC: Finally everything started looking up. We had momentum back on our side and the second Overtime went by with us in a commanding lead. The foul game started and it was becoming clear as the clock ticked down that we had were going to win. When the clock hit zero, we stormed the court having beat our A10, and RVA rivals! 

KM: Fitting that there was a jump ball at the end after Richmond missed a free throw. Game wouldn’t end in a normal way. Had everything we could ask for; chance to tie or take lead with Graham with the ball in his hands. VCU fans wanted a foul call but it’s too close to call in that situation. Classic game but you guys shouldn’t swarm the court if you wanna consider us your rivals and equals, makes you guys look like it was a miracle win when you guys clearly are a good program. Instead of taking outright lead of first place rams are now in four way tie for first. The end of the game made people forget how horrendous VCU was offensively for the first 30 minutes of the game. Hope to play you guys again in Brooklyn.

 

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