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It was a game several years in the making—and no one knew exactly how it would go down.
Back in 2006, Jeff Capel, was just two years removed from a near upset win by VCU against a Chris Paul led Wake Forest team in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
But, a late-night deal saw Capel breaking from Broad Street to ink a lucrative gig in Norman, Oklahoma.
#8 – VCU vs Oklahoma
November 21, 2009
I remember the night Capel left. It was my first coaching break-up and it was brutal. It was late in the evening and I saw it pan across the bottom of ESPN. I freaked out and immediately called fellow VRN Founder, Matt Morton, who was currently living in California. I left him a frantic message on his answering machine about how something terrible had happened and he needed to call me back, and then was promptly scolded when he called back for scaring the $^&# out of him on the other side of the country.
But, Capel was gone and there was no turning back—and there is nothing better to mend a broken heart then meeting someone new. I was 100% on board with Anthony Grant, I loved that dude. He scared the crap out of me, but I loved him in charge of the Rams.
Exit Anthony Grant. Enter Shaka Smart.
It was now three years since Capel left—add to that it was our first year with out Eric Maynor.
VCU had taken the show on the road to OU the season prior, but despite 15 points from both Eric Maynor and Bradford Burgess, and another 16 points from Larry Sanders, the Rams fell to a Blake Griffin led Sooners team, 81-70.
But this was gonna be different. This was on our home turf. (Side note: God bless the brilliant person who started writing in return Home games into our Coaching contracts. Capel was required, barring a buyout, to return to Richmond and face-off against his former players and employers.)
Emotions were high, and VCU had just lost to Western Michigan, so #17 Oklahoma was about as big an early season test as you could get with a first year head coach in Smart and losing your all-time leading scorer in school history.
But VCU didn’t just pull off the win—we dominated!
Jay Gavin led all scorers on the night with 20 points. He shot 6 of 10 from the floor, while going an impressive 4-8 from deep. Not bad considering it was only his third game in a Rams uniform after transferring from Marist.
Larry Sanders added his own 17 points, 4 assist, and 3 block touch on the evening. Even though Blake Griffin had moved on to a professional NBA career, OU wasn’t hurting for size in the paint with replacement Tiny Gallon.
The Chef himself, Ed Nixon, was the only other Ram in the double-digit scoring column that night 10 points on 3 of 7 shooting from the floor.
When it was all said and done the clock struck zero and VCU fans rushed the court as the Rams easily secured the 82-69 victory.
It was the first victory over a ranked opponent in the Siegel Centers 10 year history.
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