VCU Rams

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VCU Rams
Logo
University Virginia Commonwealth University
Conferences Atlantic 10 Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Ed McLaughlin
Location Richmond, VA
Varsity teams 16
Basketball arena Stuart C. Siegel Center
Baseball stadium The Diamond
Soccer stadium Sports Backers Stadium
Mascot Rodney The Ram
Nickname Rams
Colors
     Black       Gold
Homepage www.vcuathletics.com

The VCU Rams are the athletic teams of Virginia Commonwealth University of Richmond, Virginia, USA.[1] The Rams compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference.[2] The most successful teams have been the men's tennis and basketball teams, which have had success in their conference and on the regional and national stages. The school's colors are black and gold. The athletic director is Ed McLaughlin. The official student supporter group is known as the Rowdy Rams.[3][4]

Varsity sports[edit]

Virginia Commonwealth University sponsors teams in eight men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[5]

Basketball[edit]

Men's basketball[edit]

"Rowdy Ram" student fans cheer on the men's basketball team.

The Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball team is widely regarded as one of the most popular and successful sports programs at the university. The first varsity basketball team was fielded in 1968, and coached by Benny Dees. The present head coach is Shaka Smart, who led the team to their first Final Four in the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

In the 2011 NCAA tournament, VCU qualified as an at-large bid, having to play in the newly formatted tournament's "First Four" against USC. The decision to allow VCU to participate in the tournament was widely criticized among pundits and the media.[6] VCU defeated USC 59–46 in the "First Four" play-in game. VCU then went on to upset Georgetown 74–56 in the round of 64. The 11th-seeded VCU Rams then upset 3rd-seeded Purdue 94–76 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. In the sweet sixteen, VCU defeated 10th-seeded Florida State 72–71 on a last second bucket in overtime to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in school history. VCU beat #1 seeded Kansas in the Southwest Regional final by a score of 71–61. It was the Rams' first trip to the Final Four. Against Butler in the Final Four, VCU lost 70–62, ending "one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all time."[7] The VCU Rams finished 6th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll at the end of the season.[8] This was the highest ranking in VCU's history and the highest ranking of any team from the CAA.[9]

In 1985 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, VCU received an invitation to the NCAA men's basketball tournament as a #2 seed in its region, the highest seeding that the team has ever earned. However, it was upset in the second round of the tournament by #7 seed Alabama.

Students celebrate the men's basketball team's victory against Kansas in the Elite Eight.

Until 2006 the team was coached by Jeff Capel, who at the time of his promotion to head coach in 2002 was the youngest coach in Division I NCAA basketball at 27 years old. During his time with VCU, Capel compiled a 79–41 record (.658), and in his first year earned VCU 18 wins, the most ever for a first-year coach at the school. In April 2006, Capel announced his decision to coach the University of Oklahoma basketball team. He was replaced by Anthony Grant,[10] formerly an assistant head coach with the 2006 NCAA champions, the University of Florida.

Regular season conference champs and first-seed VCU defeated sixth-seed George Mason in the CAA championship game on March 5, 2007 to receive an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The Rams defeated the Patriots in a close fought game 65–59 to set a school record for wins in a season, finishing 27–6. The Rams also set a mark for the most conference wins in the regular season by any team ever in the CAA, finishing their CAA campaign 16–2 in the regular season and 3–0 in the tournament. In the first round of the 2007 NCAA tourney the 11 seeded Rams upset 6 seeded Duke by Eric Maynor's game-winning buzzer-beater. VCU then lost in the second round to 3-seed Pitt in overtime.

Women's basketball[edit]

Marlene Stollings coaches the VCU Rams women's basketball team.[11]

The VCU Rams Women's team enjoyed the most successful season in their history in the 2008–2009 season. The team finished the season with a mark of 26–7 overall and a 15–3 conference record. Notably the team was a perfect 16–0 at home. After finishing second in their conference the team headed to their first ever NCAA tournament game as the 10th seed, where the #7 seeded Rutgers eliminated them 57–51 on their home court.[12] In the 2009–2010 season Cunningham led the Rams to the NIT Sweet Sixteen where they were eliminated by the Syracuse.

Baseball[edit]

The VCU Rams baseball teams plays at The Diamond.

VCU has fielded a baseball team since 1971. The program is currently lead by Shawn Stiffler who was the interim manager during the 2012 VCU Rams baseball season, who would take on full managerial duties for 2013. Stiffler took over as manager when longtime coach, Paul Keyes stepped down for personal health reasons. Keyes would pass away in the Fall of 2012. Since 2013, the Rams participate in the Atlantic 10 Conference in NCAA Division I baseball competitions.

Presently, the Rams play at The Diamond, located in central Richmond near the Chamberlayne Industrial Center and Scott's Addition neighborhoods. The Diamond is located on the same athletic complex as the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, and Sports Backers Stadium, where the men's and women's soccer and track teams play.

During the 2006 MLB Draft, three Rams were selected. Harold Mozingo, a right-handed pitch who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals; Scott Sizemore, drafted by the Detroit Tigers and Michael Gibbs who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies.[13]

Soccer[edit]

Men's soccer[edit]

A VCU Rams men's soccer match vs. Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens at Sports Backers Stadium.

Since 1978, the VCU Rams have fielded a men's varsity soccer program. The men's soccer team is presently coached by David Giffard, who formerly worked for the Akron Zips men's soccer program under Caleb Porter, who lead Akron to the 2010 NCAA College Cup title, and now coaches the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.[14] Giffard has coached the team since 2010. In the Rams' 35 years of existence, the team has reached seven NCAA Tournaments, with all of them coming in the last 15 years. VCU's best finish in the NCAA Tournament came in 2004, when the Rams reached the quarterfinals of the tournament, where they fell to UC Santa Barbara.

The first 20 years of the men's soccer program were otherwise lackluster, as the team failed to reach the NCAA Tournament, nor win any conference tournaments. The first five seasons were led under Ben Satterfield, who failed to have a winning season at the helm of the team. Satterfield's successor, Roosevelt Lundy gave the Rams a few winning seasons in the mid-1980s but failed to give the team a berth into the NCAA Tournament. After the Lundy era came Lincoln Phillips who guided the Rams to the 1991 Metro Conference Men's Soccer Final, but failed to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

In 1995, the program was led by Tim O'Sullivan, who would manage the varsity team for the next 15 seasons. During O'Sullivan's coaching career at VCU, he led the team to three Colonial Athletic Association tournament titles, and two CAA regular season titles. Presently, the team is coached by Dave Giffard who formerly worked as an assistant coach for the University of Akron Zips. Giffard has coached the team since 2010.

The team's most successful run in the College Cup, the men's NCAA Division I Soccer Tournament, came in 2004, where the Rams entered the tournament as ranked 16th in the nation, earning a bye to the second round proper. In the second round, the Rams defeated George Washington, before upsetting the number-one seeded, Wake Forest Demon Deacons in penalty kicks. Reaching the regional finals, or quarterfinals in the entire tournament, VCU lost to eventual national finalists, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.[15]

Following a string of three consecutive seasons without a berth in the CAA tournament, Sullivan was fired to be subsequently replaced by Giffard. Giffard, who is the second head coach in team history, led the team to regular season runners-up in the CAA before falling in the semifinals of the playoffs. His second season resulted in both a winning conference and overall record, and at one point being ranked for the first time since 2005, but failure to qualify for both the CAA and NCAA Tournaments.

During the 2012 season, VCU had their inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 Conference, finishing second in the 2012 Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Tournament. In the tournament, the Rams knocked off the defending finalists, the Charlotte 49ers, before losing to the Saint Louis Billikens in the championship. Their success in the Atlantic 10 resulted in them being seeded 14th in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the second round to the Syracuse Orange.

Following the 2012 season, Rams striker Jason Johnson was selected 13th overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by Houston Dynamo.

Women's soccer[edit]

Women's volleyball[edit]

Tennis[edit]

Men's tennis[edit]

The VCU men's tennis team was ranked 14th pre-season by the International Tennis Association (ITA) in 2005, and has been nationally ranked in the top 50 since 1993. The Rams have had 13 straight NCAA tournament appearances and had won nine consecutive Colonial Athletic Association tournament crowns until being dethroned in the 2005 CAA tournament final by William and Mary. In 2000, the men's team reached the NCAA Finals after defeating Illinois (Quarterfinals) and Tennessee (Semifinals) respectively. In the finals, Stanford rallied to win the doubles and swept Virginia Commonwealth in the singles to claim its 17th NCAA men's tennis title 4–0.

Women's tennis[edit]

Track & field[edit]

The VCU men's track team won the 2006 CAA Conference Championship after placing second in the CAA's in the previous 2 years. The team was led by Davion Lambert and James Frerson who were named the Field MVP and Track MVP respectively. The team is looking to be led to another CAA victory with some old and new faces at the CAA Championships this year.

Other sports[edit]

VCU Rams varsity logo.

The Men's and Women's Track & Field Teams have also enjoyed success, having won multiple conference titles. The men's team won three consecutive outdoor track & field conference titles from 1994–1996 and an indoor track & field conference title in 1995. The first two conference titles came as a member of the Metro Conference and the third was won in the Colonial Athletic Association. VCU moved from the Metro Conference to the CAA in 1995 when the Metro was dissolved and many of the teams merged to form Conference USA. VCU's men's track & field team also won the 2006 Outdoor CAA Championships.

Club teams[edit]

Crew Team[edit]

Established in 2002,the History of VCU Crew: Commonwealth Crew began as the enterprise of faculty member, Donald Bowles, along with a handful of energetic boys in an old shell, which was borrowed from a local boat club. "VCU enjoyed a brief but brilliant six years, rowing from 1966-1972. [2] Donald Bowles, professor of retailing at then RPI's School of Distribution, formed the first Commonwealth [then RPI] crew for the inaugural season of 1966-67. Coach Bowles had been an alternate on the 1926 U.S. Olympic Crew after rowing for Harvard.

It was no coincidence that as RPI merged with Medical College of Virginia to form Virginia Commonwealth University, the dreams of building a great university propelled the crew. After struggling for three years as a student club, the crew's growing stature earned it varsity status, university funding, and a new coach, D.K. Waybright in 1970. With new shells, new equipment, and Waybright's unorthodox and aggressive coaching philosophy, the crew drew support at home and built a reputation on the road. The crew attracted crowds of picnicking students gathering on the banks of the James as the crews rowed from south of the 14th Street Bridge to the finish line at Ancarrow's Marina on the south side of the river. On the road, Commonwealth Crew traveled to Washington, Philadelphia, New York, South Carolina, and Miami and acquitted themselves against established crews such as Georgetown, Notre Dame, and even Cambridge University.

May 9, 1972 proved to be the last day of VCU crew at the 14th Street boathouse. A month later, Hurricane Agnes roared through Central Virginia leaving a wake of destruction, including the 14th Street boathouse and VCU's fleet inside.

Crew at VCU would remain a distant but bright memory until the spring of 2002 when a stalwart group of students re-formed the VCU crew to row out of the VBC's Power House in a mottled fleet of borrowed and begged boats. With luck, a heroic work ethic on and off the water, and some timely assistance from the VBC, VCU Crew has earned a reputation as boating fast crews that compete with Virginia Tech, Mary Washington, ODU, American University, and other regional crews throughout the Middle Atlantic. The crew enjoyed its first two years under the disciplined coaching of VBC oarsman Dan LeBlanc. A Canadian Henley medalist himself and nephew of an Olympic oarsman, LeBlanc instilled a work ethic and dedication to finesse that continues to this day. LeBlanc’s 2005 novice men won gold, Champion of the Chase, at the October, 2005 Occoquan Chase.

The Crew is now coached by Yuriy Levitsky. Coach Yuriy, a former captain of the VCU Crew, comes from a long rowing tradition, that includes his father, a nationally ranked Soviet oarsman. Coach Yuriy’s crews have gained a reputation for superb conditioning which has paid off; their 2007 fall season included 3rd place finishes for both novice men and women at the Occoquan Chase. The novice men finished third only behind University of Virginia’s first and second place winning crews."

For Fall of 2011, Coach Yuriy was joined by Samantha Smelley, of Georgia Tech and James Dunay of VT & a VCU alumni.

    • Cited with thanks from the Virginia Boat Club Website-- Author: Paul D. Georgiadis**

Football[edit]

In 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University fielded a club football team that plays fellow club football teams within the Colonial Athletic Association and the state. Prior to the fielding of the team, there has been enduring debate on whether or not the school should field a varsity football team sometime in the near future. Former University President, Eugene P. Trani, has been quoted to never field a football team during his administration.[16]

The club coaches for the football team will be Lamar and Alfonso Bell.[17]

Ice Hockey[edit]

The VCU men's ice hockey team plays in the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The VCU Rams ice hockey team clinched a playoff spot in the Northeast BRHC standings in the 2006–2007 season.[18][19]

Lacrosse[edit]

The Rams Lacrosse Club began competitive play in 2004 with the National Collegiate Lacrosse League. The club embraces players with and without experience in the sport, often giving new players the opportunity to excel at the club level alongside skilled ones. Rams Lacrosse competes in the Tidewater Division of the NCLL, against Christopher Newport,William & Mary, and cross-town rival University of Richmond. Club highlights include claiming first place in 2005 at the Old Dominion Shootout in Lynchburg over Liberty University, and their best-ever finish in 2007. The club claimed the Tidewater Division title and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

Rugby[edit]

Men's rugby[edit]

The VCU Men's Rugby team took the 2005 Virginia Rugby Union and the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union Division III Collegiate Championships and received a bid to play in the East Coast Championship which was hosted by VCU April 22–24 of 2006. The team took fourth at the East Coast Championship tournament. Following their Division III success, they accepted an invitation to move to Division II in the Fall of 2006.

Facilities[edit]

Interior of the Stuart Siegel Center, home of the basketball and volleyball teams.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.vcu.edu/
  2. ^ "Atlantic 10 Conference Adds VCU as Full Member" (Press release). Atlantic 10 Conference. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ http://vcuathletics.com/RAF/RowdyRams
  4. ^ https://sites.google.com/site/vcurowdyrams/
  5. ^ http://www.vcuathletics.com/
  6. ^ Fogarty, Dan (March 13, 2011). "Bracket Outrage! Jay Bilas Calls Selections Of UAB, VCU "Indefensible"". SportsGrid. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  7. ^ Henderson, Mike (March 27, 2011). "NCAA Tournament Final Four: Is VCU the Greatest Cinderella Story of All Time?". Bleacher Report. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  8. ^ "2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Rankings – ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Postseason (Mar. 29)". National Collegiate Athletic Association. ESPN.com. March 29, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Rams finish the season ranked sixth in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Poll". VCUAthletics.com. April 5, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ ESPN – VCU hires Gators assistant Grant as new coach – Men's College Basketball
  11. ^ "Marlene Stollings Named VCU Head Women's Basketball Coach". VCU Rams. Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  12. ^ http://www.vcuathletics.com/wbb/0809stats/teamcume.htm
  13. ^ "Background on the 2006 MLB Draft". Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  14. ^ "Bio: Dave Giffard". VCUAthletics.com. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  15. ^ "2004 College Cup". World News Network. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  16. ^ Nightingale, Nicholas (October 13, 2010). "VCU football: Still...in progress". United Press International. UPIU.com. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Coaches". VCU Club Football. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Basketball fans pack the Siegel Center for Rams Madness". The Commonwealth Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  19. ^ "Grant, VCU staying cool in CAA's heat". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-06-26.