I was on the way to “the office” (today’s venue: Harrison St. Cafe) when I picked up a copy of Style Weekly’s “Best of Richmond” Awards. The local weekly mag polls readers on their favorites in a number of categories, including best indoor or outdoor venue for watching a sports event, which, for some odd reason was won by the Diamond this year (seriously Richmond? You’ve been trying to get a new ballpark built for years), with the Siegel Center — home to the 2013 Naismith Student Section of the Year — finishing in second.
If they can do it, so can we, so without further ado…the 2012-13 Best of Ram Nation Awards.
Best Player – Juvonte Reddic
The easy way out of this split decision would be to reward a tie between Reddic and Graham, but 1) that’s no fun and 2) Juvonte gets the nod for being the only reliable big on the team, thus facing more double teams than Graham. Their numbers are almost identical, and both came up huge when we needed them the most, but Reddic’s team-leading 118.1 offensive rating is even more impressive when you consider the help he had in the low post.
Best Game – VCU v Saint Joseph’s (Jan 17th)
There were a handful of really fun blowouts to watch, but this game will go down as one of the greatest ever played at the Siegel Center. For starters, final score: VCU 92, St. Joe’s 86…in overtime. Overtime plus high scoring equals entertainment, always has. But the way the Rams revived themselves from a near-death experience was what made this one so special. The Rams trailed by four with 14 seconds to play as St. Joseph’s attempted to inbound the ball. After a quick Hawks turnover, an ice cold version of Troy Daniels connected on his first 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to one. St. Joe’s made one of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining on the next possession, then VCU senior, Darius Theus, made a layup with six seconds to play to tie the game, and basically ensure what would be an overtime loss for St. Joe’s.
Best Individual Performance – Troy Daniels v ETSU
Everything went right for the Rams in their 109-58 road win at ETSU, but Troy Daniels put on an all-time performance, hitting 11-of-20 3-point attempts to set a VCU single-game record for 3-point makes.
Best Play – Briante Weber’s steal and dunk against Butler
Best plays are usually reserved for game-winners, but Weber’s ultimate highlight was maybe the earliest game-winner the Siegel Center has ever seen, setting the tone in VCU’s 84-52 blowout of the Bulldogs. The play epitomized havoc, and produced an iconic Scott Brown photo that will be an image etched in the minds of Ram fans forever.
Best Freshman – Melvin Johnson
Top-100 freshman, Melvin Johnson, became a fan favorite at VCU with his constant smile and reliable floater that will be known as “The Melvin”, for the next three years at VCU. Johnson averaged 6.9 points in 17.3 minutes per game in his freshman season while showing serious flashes of his potential greatness including an 18-point 18 minute performance against UMass.
Best Fan – Honey Hunt
The better half of our good friend, Dr. Gene Hunt, Honey has been a fixture at VCU games for (we never reveal a women’s age)…a while. With Gene out of commission for much of this past season due to some health issues (he’ll be back…he’s built like a rock), Honey could still be found on the sidelines, and with that, my heart grew a number of sizes.
Best Gold Rush Dancer – Taylor Corbin
Taylor has been a friend of Ram Nation for a while now and was a captain on this year’s Gold Rush Dance team. She’s a fun-lover, is always smiling, and her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. I also once taught her a really special dance move that I’ll hope team Gold Rush will adopt for future routines.
Best Cheerleader – Taylor Silva
I’ll be honest, I don’t really know this crew and have always had a hard time “connecting” with the cheerleaders, so I honestly couldn’t really tell you any of their names (although I’m sure they are all very sweet). So this one comes via recommendation. From a friend of a friend: “Keep smiling Taylor…keep smiling”. Her selection also complete the Taylor spirit sweep.
Best Promotion – Stripe The Stu
Former AD of Marketing, Corrie Sears, “striped the Stu” for the first time in it’s history with the help of Lumber Liquidators and the result was a smashing success. Every fan who entered the building received either a black or gold VCU t-shirt, creating a striping effect that wrapped the Siegel Center, as well as spelling out “V-C-U” and “R-A-M-S”. The place looked amazing.
Best VCU Athletics Staffer – Scott Day, of course
For starters, he provides us the access that makes this site worth following, but know there are A LOT of schools that don’t, and won’t, embrace fan sites the way Day has embraced us. Scott’s also the second most followed non-coach Twitter account at VCU (AD, Ed McLaughlin, is No.1). There’s a reason for that people.
Best VCU Uniform – Away blacks
Don’t know if you noticed, but no alternate uniform made the rotation this season, leaving this category a two-uni race. It’s a matter of taste but I personally love the away blacks. The way Briante, Rob, Juvonte and Co. attack in those things just reminds me of killer bees. Killer bees on a swarm! (Wu – Tang – Wu – Tang!)
Best Celebrity Fan – Spike Lee
We’ve had a number of celebs follow the action since VCU hit the big time. Actor/model, Boris Kodjoe, was a former VCU tennis player, and has been following Rams basketball pretty hardcore as of late. Comedian and SNL cast member, Jay Pharoah, did a semester at VCU and often gives VCU and Coach Smart some social media love. But as far as I’m aware, only one celebrity dawned a VCU jersey courtside, and that was actor/director, Spike Lee. Lee attended every VCU tournament game this March in Brooklyn, dawning VCU gear two of those days and cheering on the Rams as hard as he does his NY Knicks. I was always a fan of Mars Blackmon, but love him even more knowing he bleeds black and gold just like the rest of us.
Best place to Watch a VCU game other than the Siegel Center – Baja Bean Co.
Full disclosure, Baja was a sponsor this season. But they don’t win this simply for filling my pockets with cash (and too be honest, I think I blew all that money on shots for the Gold Rush Dancers one night….which is actually not true at all), Baja went all out in their hosting of the games, doing killer giveaways, and working with Ram Nation, VCU Athletics and the Rowdy Rams to cement their position as the top place to watch a road game (or sold out game), hands down.
Best Player Fan Section – The “C” Section
Once home to my students seats, the C section has been home to the rowdiest fans for years. It’s nice to know on any given year you can look in their direction and find all the same faces in all the same places. With this offseason’s reseating, I’ll be curious to see how many remain. I’d bet all of them.
Best Promotional Half Court Shot – Jesse Pellot-Rosa
Hard to not award this to fellow VCU Center for Sport Leadership grad, Lindsey Briggs (who played hoops at Virginia Tech), who became the first female enemy of local Papa John’s employees when she hit a halfcourter prior to VCU’s thriller against St. Joseph’s. But I will. Former VCU star, Jesse Pellot-Rosa, hit one of his own prior to VCU’s blowout of Alabama in Anthony Grant’s return to the Stu. Pellot-Rosa followed the shot with a hug for his former coach.
Best Blowout – VCU v Butler
VCU defeated 11 teams by 20 or more points this season. While the 46-point NCAA tournament win over Akron may have technically meant more, the Rams 32-point blowout of then 20th-ranked Butler Bulldogs, was an all-timer at the Siegel Center. The Rams dominated Butler from start to finish in what may be the last game the two ever play at the Siegel Center.