After an AMAZING 2011 that saw VCU’s first-ever Final 4 appearance, 2012 turned out to be one hell of an encore performance.
The year was chock full of exciting wins and saw VCU take the program to new heights under head coach Shaka Smart.
Among the highlights, a 29-7 overall record that included an undefeated 3-0 2012 sweep of rival Old Dominion, a 19-point blowout win over an Alabama team coached by former VCU head coach Anthony Grant, a 2012 CAA tournament championship thriller over former CAA rival Drexel and a classic 12 versus 5 upset over fifth-seeded Wichita State in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Even in losing VCU played valiantly. The Ram’s seven losses were be an average of 3.57 points, with only two of those more than three points: a nine-point loss to this season’s No.1, the undefeated Duke Blue Devils, and a six-point road loss at Drexel last season, a loss we would avenge in the CAA Championship game in front of a sold out Richmond Coliseum.
But the winning didn’t stop on the basketball court.
As an athletic department, VCU won 68.8% of their games, tops among every school in the state of Virginia by more than five percentage points.
In the classroom the Rams excelled as well, seeing 56.9% of the 270-plus student athletes earn 3.0 grade point averages or higher, an all-time high at VCU.
2012 also saw the beginning of several new eras as well, as the Rams hired former Niagara AD Ed McLaughlin to lead VCU into their first year as a full-time member of the Atlantic-10 conference.
So far, so good.
But 2012 wasn’t without it’s heartbreak.
The Rams said goodbye to former Athletic Director Norwood Teague and long-time Ram and past Deputy Athletic Director Mike Ellis as the two along with former interim AD David Benedict headed to Minnesota to join the Golden Gophers.
(Quick personal note: Teague and Ellis were great friends of VCURamNation.com, allowing us incredible access to the program, not to mention helping me in my sports career personally, for which I will forever be grateful.)
VCU was also hit by tragedy in 2012 when men’s soccer captain Yoram Mwila died after a car crash in Zambia. Mwila was a rising senior and a beloved figure among VCU Athletics.
The Rams also said goodbye to legendary baseball coach Paul Keyes, who tragically lost his battle with cancer at the age of 50. Keyes was the winningest coach in VCU history, posting 603 career victories in his 18 seasons with the program.
Needless to say, through the good and the bad, 2012 will go down as one of the most memorable at VCU.
Here’s to hoping for a lot more of the good in 2013.
With that, on behalf of all of us at VCURamNation.com — Matt Morton, Michael Hagan, Marcus Shrock and myself — Happy New Year!