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@GTMBB Non-Conference Preview – VCU

Oct. 20, 2015

THE FLATS – Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, Ramblinwreck.com takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, we look at Virginia Commonwealth, an opponent the Jackets last faced during the 2011-12 season.

Date: December 15, 2015
Location: Richmond, Va.
Conference: Atlantic 10 Conference
Home arena: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center (8,000)
2014-15 Record: 26-10 overall, 12-6 in the Atlantic 10 (4th place), 15th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round, lost to Ohio State 75-72 OT
NCAA Championship Appearances: 13 (last in 2015)
All-time series record: Georgia Tech leads 2-0 (First meeting 12/29/2003)
Head coach: Will Wade (entering 1st season, 0-0)
Starters returning/lost: 3/2
Top scorer returning: Melvin Johnson (12.4)
Top rebounder returning: Mo Alie-Cox (5.7)

Quick preview for 2015-16

Will Wade is entering his first season as VCU’s 11th head basketball coach. Wade served as an assistant coach to VCU’s former head coach Shaka Smart, who coached at VCU for six seasons. In Wade’s four years as assistant coach, VCU was 111-37 and made three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Smart coached the Rams to a record of 26-10, a fourth place regular season finish in the Atlantic 10, and an Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship. With Will Wade taking over the reigns in 2015-16, Virginia Commonwealth will look to senior guard Melvin Johnson as well as redshirt-junior forward Mo Alie-Cox. Johnson was the team’s second leading scorer (12.4 points per game) behind graduated senior Treveon Graham (16.2). Alie-Cox, who was the third leading scorer last season, averaged 5.7 boards a game, which was second only to Graham’s 7.1 rebounds per game. The Rams will need to find a way to make up for his absence offensively and on the boards. Additionally, VCU will need to improve on the defensive boards, as they ranked 12th in the conference in this category.

Quick recap of 2014-15

At the beginning of the season, VCU got off to a slow start on the year with a 5-3 record, but the Rams reeled off 12 straight wins from Dec. 13 to Jan. 27. VCU won just one of its last four regulsr-season games, but the Rams ran the table in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, winning four games in four days. The team defeated Dayton 71-65 in Brooklyn to win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. After the tournament, the 26-9 Rams were seeded seventh in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament and drew a difficult opponent in 23-10 Ohio State. A tough 75-72 overtime loss to the Buckeyes ended the Rams fine season. The team ranked in the top five of its conference in many categories, including scoring offense, scoring margin, offensive rebounding, three-point field goals, blocked shots, and steals. The Rams will need to improve their free throw shooting, as they shot under 66 percent from the line as a team.

Greatest program accomplishment

Five consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances (2011 Final Four) and Nine Regular Season and Conference Tournament Championships – VCU basketball began in 1968. Before joining the Atlantic 10 Conference for the 2012-13 season, the Rams competed in the Colonial Athletic Association. The VCU Rams are perhaps best know for their 2011 Final Four run. Previously, the Rams had never made it past the second round of the tournament. In 2011, VCU became the first team to advance from the “First-Four” play-in game to the Final Four. VCU’s magical run ended with a 70-62 loss to the Butler Bulldogs. The Rams have won nine conference tournaments, three from the Sun Belt, five from the Colonial, and one from the Atlantic 10 last season. VCU has also won nine regular season titles, including four from the Sun Belt and five from the Colonial. Recently, the Rams have achieved remarkably consistent success, winning 26 games or more in each of the past six seasons under Shaka Smart. The Rams are the only school in the nation to accomplish this feat other than Duke. Under Smart, VCU made it to the Big Dance in five of his six years as head coach. The Rams advanced to round of 32 in the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments, but both runs ended there before the Sweet Sixteen.

Greatest player in program history

Eric Maynor (2005-09) – Eric Maynor, a Raeford, N.C. native, is VCU’s all-time leader in points (1,953), assists (674), and made free throws (503). He averaged 15 points and 5.2 assists over the course of his four-year career. In his senior year, he averaged 22.4 points per game, led VCU to its second Colonial title during his career, and helped the Rams make it to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Maynor went on to graduate from VCU with a degree in sports management. After college, he was drafted 20th overall by the Utah Jazz and became the first Ram ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. During his eight seasons in the NBA, Maynor played for five different teams, scored over 1,000 points (4.3 ppg) and dished out 760 assists (2.8 apg). Currently, he is playing professionally overseas for an Italian basketball club.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond – One of the top 10 museums in the country, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was built in 1932 and opened to the public four years later. The museum has art works from a plethora of periods and cultures, including African, American, East Asian, European, English, Ancient, and Modern. Admission to the museum is free, as it is one of the first museums in the American South operated by state funds. The museum has its origins from a 1919 donation of 50 paintings to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Judge John Barton Payne, a native Virginian, made the donation. In 2011, the VMFA was chosen as one of seven museums around the world to display 176 paintings from Pablo Picasso’s personal collection.

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