VCU’s storied basketball team return with their backs against the wall

Photo by Erin Edgerton. Photo illustration by Desiree Choe.
Photo by Erin Edgerton. Photo illustration by Desiree Choe.

It’s about time, isn’t it?

After another whirlwind offseason, VCU men’s basketball returns with a new coach, a new squad and what appears to be a set of new stumbling blocks.

Photo by Ali Jones.

The team’s season ended last March with an 85-77 loss to the No. 22 Saint Mary’s College of California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Then-senior guard JeQuan Lewis’ 30 point effort was not enough to lift the Rams past the West Coast Conference runner-up Gaels.

Despite the loss, VCU extended its streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament bids to seven. The Rams finished the season with a 26-9 record — their 11th straight season with 24 wins or more. Only the University of Kansas can boast the same streak of sustained excellence.  

“We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t tough,” said coach Will Wade after the game. “Got a good way about us. You can never knock us out, I love these guys.”

Despite these assurances, Wade ended his time with the Rams less than a week later when he took the gig at Louisiana State University — the second time in three years a VCU coach traded the helm on Broad Street for life in the deep south.

An offseason filled with question marks loomed — familiar territory for RamNation.

Enter Michael David Rhoades.

The legendary Final Four assistant coach returns to Richmond in the form of savior for the embattled Black and Gold. After former coaches Wade and Shaka Smart used the VCU job as a stepping stone to “higher places,” Rhoades’ Richmond roots forestall a sense of pride and stability Ram fans have yearned for.

Photo illustration by Iain Duffus.

Have we finally found our man? Is HAVOC cometh in earnest? Are the Broad Street Bullies back in town?   

Only time and results will tell.

“We’re gonna play fast,” Rhoades said at his introductory press conference. “We’re gonna play exciting, we’re gonna get after people — and we’re gonna win.”

 


Fadel AllassanManaging Editor at Large

Zach JoachimSports Editor

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