The Last Decade of VCU Rams Basketball

Apr 21, 2009
Usually, if a team has had four coaches in a decade, something is going wrong. That team is looking for the right guy, and until they find him, they are perennial cellar dwellers. If someone had told me in 2000 that VCU will have four coaches this decade I would have given the typical, "Oh great, we're going to suck" response. But this last decade as been one heck of a trip.

In 2002, just after the end of the season, I was dumbfounded when ESPN's bottomline informed me that Mack McCarthy resigned from his duties and that that "kid" from Duke that hit that shot agianst Carolina in 1995 was hired as a replacement. I was shocked and had no clue what the future would bring. Mack, not that he was the "greatest" coach in the world, seemed to be headed in the right direction. He brought us Bo Jones, Willie Taylor, Antoine Willie and yes even LF Lichilitov. He had just come off a 20+ win season and things seemed like they were going to be okay for a while. But he "resigned" and we took one HUGE risk on Jeff Capel.

Immediately watching Jeff Capel I think we all knew that there was something special about him. He brought us back to the NCAA's for he first time in 8 years in 2004. He also brought us great players like Troy Godwin, Nick George, BA Walker, Jesse Pellot Rosa, Michael Doles, Jamal Shuler and of course Eric Maynor. We nearly upset Wake in the first round of the 2004 tourney and we were taken to heights that we hadn't realized since the JD Barnett days. Things were looking great for our future.

And then one random day in April I was watching ESPN again. ESPN informed me that once again we had lost a coach, he was headed Oklahome, a school embattled with NCAA sanctions thanks to their coach of the highest moral character, Kelvin Sampson. I was more pissed that Capel took the Oklhaome job than him actually leaving. It wasn't the best of situations. OU is and will always to a football school. Yes he could win NCAA Championships there, but he'll always be playing second fiddle, no matter what happens. Either way about a week is all it took for me to get over it.

We almost instantly hired Anthony Grant, who from the press conference when hestated we were going to be playing 94 feet both ways, I was pumped! Grant brought us Larry Sanders, Joey Rodriguez, Ed Noxon, Big Shot Brad and Brandon Rozzell. He helped us slay the almight Duke in 2007, with Capel's recruits and Eric Maynor's help. He bolted for another football school, actually THE football school last season, Alabama! Well we hired Shaka Smart and we are rolling. Off to one of our greatest starts ever! We'll see what this decade has in store for us. But if it is anything like the last, look out!
YouveBeenRammed said:
Usually, if a team has had four coaches in a decade, something is going wrong.
There is something wrong. We are too good. It would be nice to have a long term coach who wants to stay even though he gets other offers, but at least we know that at this point things will still be ok if that isn't the case. I feel for the players more than the fans for having to go through this, but they have all stayed loyal to VCU through the changes and have been rewarded with success. It is tough going through a coaching change from a pure basketball standpoint not even considering the emotional attachment to the coaching staff. We were lucky not to lose any players through these transitions. That says a lot about the character and loyalty of the guys that have played for us over the past decade.
We just have to build the brand until VCU becomes a destination job and not a stepping stone. It's so cliche when every mid-major school's fans on the Eastern seaboard claims to be building towards being the 'Gonzaga of the East', but it's what we have to do. We have to build the VCU brand like Mark Few built the Gonzaga brand.

Thankfully we basically invented the blueprint for how to hire the best possible coaches in short turnaround situations. We'll be fine, but eventually we hopefully will get to the position of being a place coaches aspire to coach at for a long time.