Communication is key for VCU men’s basketball during COVID-19 pandemic

Coach Mike Rhoades said communication is a big factor to focus on when recruiting online. CT file photo

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

As several VCU courses shift to using digital platforms like Zoom for group instruction, men’s basketball is utilizing the software for a different function: recruiting. 

For coach Mike Rhoades, recruiting virtually is all about how effective of a communicator he can be. 

“Maybe you’re not sitting in the gym with that person or meeting with their family on a visit to campus or in a school, but you’re trying to do the best you can over the phone,” Rhoades said. “To me it’s trying to be a high-level communicator, trying to get a lot of response back and go from there.”

A day after the NCAA canceled the winter and spring championships, it enacted a recruiting dead period, which has since been extended until May 31 for all sports. 

During the dead period, coaches are only allowed to communicate to potential recruits through video conferencing, calling, texting, emailing or direct-messaging. 

When Rhoades meets with recruits on Zoom he’s joined by his coaching staff, giving the opportunity for more faces to be present at once, something that doesn’t always happen in person. 

“Just to have a group setting with our staff — I think one of our greatest strengths is our staff — to have them all in one setting, talking to a family I think has been great,” Rhoades said. 

The coach said finding ways to catch up with recruits from home doesn’t bother him.

“It’s not a hindrance to me, it’s a challenge,” Rhoades said. “It’s a good challenge, let’s get out of our comfort zone and find different ways to communicate with our guys, recruits, families and coaches. Keep moving forward.”

Not only is Rhoades and his staff using Zoom to talk with recruits, but the coaches are also using it to hold meetings and keep in touch with the players on the team. 

The players were given weight workouts by Daniel Roose, director of sports performance for men’s basketball, to stay in shape at home. Rhoades’ goal is for every player to do some form of physical activity every day. 

“My biggest thing is don’t suffer from cabin fever. You got to move around, you got to do stuff, get into a routine,” Rhoades said. “If you have the opportunity to get a sweat in every day, try to do it. It’ll make you feel better.”

Some players are going on runs, Rhoades said, while others have biked around where they live to get their “sweat in” each day. 

Besides avoiding cabin fever, Rhoades’ top priority for his players are their academics. He said it’s been a learning process for some of them, especially the freshman. 

It’s the first time any player on the roster has taken four online classes and the first online classes that the freshmen have taken. 

“We’re trying to make sure they get through this semester and do well,” Rhoades said. “It’s been tough for some of these guys, especially because the professors weren’t teaching online classes and a week later, it’s online classes.”

Once the players finish their online academic work each day, Rhoades encourages them to move around again to avoid not wanting to do anything. 

“Move around and sweat and don’t suffer from cabin fever because that puts you in a state where you don’t want to do anything,” Rhoades said. “The number one thing is being safe and healthy and follow the rules of your area wherever you’re at.”

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