This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.
Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
At VCU, Men’s Basketball games are not “just another sporting event” — they’re a way of life. Many students, alumni and Richmond residents eat, sleep and breathe Rams basketball.
On game day, the Siegel Center gets loud and rowdy, making it one of the hardest arenas in the Atlantic 10. The sellout crowds have become a tradition, and the norm, as VCU has sold out 134 games in a row since 2011.
“The Stu” has been a friendly place for the Rams, as VCU is 42-9 at home over the last three seasons. Last season, the Black and Gold were 16-1 at home with a lone loss against the College of Charleston.
The sellouts are for good reason too — the Rams won the A-10 regular season title last March for the first time since 2015 and made the NCAA Tournament.
Its atmosphere was dubbed one of the best places to play in college basketball last season by Hofstra’s coach Joe Mihalich. The Rams and the Pride played a tight game last November, and the Black and Gold prevailed by 2 in overtime.
The Rowdy Rams, the student section behind the basket, drive the atmosphere. Armed with cardboard cutouts and balloons, students play a crucial role by getting into the opposing team’s head at the free throw line.
VCU’s Havoc defense — which uses a full court press and tries to force as many turnovers as possible to fluster the opposing team — returned last season and was ranked in the top 10 nationally. The defensive improvement was one of the best in the country, going from 157th in 2018 to seventh in 2019.
Redshirt-senior guard Marcus Evans will lead the Rams on the floor this season after battling injury throughout last year. He averaged a team-high 13.6 points and 3.5 assists en route to First Team All-A-10 honors.
Coach Mike Rhoades returns to the helm for his third year, after being named A-10 Coach of the Year last season.
But Men’s Basketball isn’t VCU’s only championship-caliber team.
Women’s Basketball completed the biggest turnaround in the NCAA last season after a 17-win improvement within one year, the 14th best in NCAA Women’s Basketball history.
Coach Beth O’Boyle was named A-10 Coach of the Year after leading the Rams to the A-10 regular season title for the first time in program history. Her team also went to the A-10 tournament final against Fordham.
The Rams made it to the second round of the WNIT, the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, after defeating Charlotte in the first round of the tournament at home.
The WNIT is a postseason tournament that teams have to be invited to in order to compete. The Rams earned their spot in the tournament last March because they won the A-10 regular season title.
VCU did not lose any players to graduation after the historic season. This season, the Rams will have five seniors on the roster. But sophomores and juniors make up the core of the team.
Junior guard Tera Reed returns to the floor after a First Team All-A-10 season, averaging 12.5 points and 2.2 assists. Reed missed three games due to injury, but looks to stay healthy next year.
A-10 All-Rookie team selection sophomore forward Kseniya Malashka made herself known in her first season on Broad Street, averaging 5.7 points and one block. Malashka also recorded a game-winning floater against Dayton last season.
Whether it is a Men’s or Women’s game in the Stu, students need to fill the student section to support the Rams. Attendees can also earn points through the RamRewards app, awarding points for each VCU Athletics event attended.