Men's Basketball

Smart talks to fans, treats them to dinner at first ‘Coach on Campus’ event

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The Rams’ head coach talked leadership and the future in Q&A session hosted by Chili’s

By: Ryan Murphy

RICHMOND – VCU Men’s Basketball Coach Shaka Smart socialized with fans Tuesday night, answering questions about this current season and expressing excitement and optimism for the future at the university’s first ‘Coach on Campus’ event.

Among the most prevalent topics discussed at last night’s Question and Answer session were team leadership, the fans themselves and Coach Smart’s ambitious hopes for the program’s future.

“VCU is an emerging school, a terrific place….and it’s a lot of fun to be here.” said Smart.

That was the atmosphere of the whole evening, which saw Smart leading a round of applause for the Rams fans when asked if turnout at the Siegel Center has had an impact on their playing. “If we could play every game in front of a crowd at the Siegel center, we would win the national championship.” he said.

Audience members inquired multiple times about next season, the schedule and possible opponents. Smart said that a contract is in the works to play a “BCS-level opponent in the state of Florida”, presumably referencing the University of Florida, where Smart served as assistant coach for a season. The coach said that playing a tournament at Wake Forest was a possibility as well.

As talk turned from the fans to the players, some audience members asked about individual players’ performances. Smart noted that junior Ed Nixon had surprised him. “He’s a Coach’s dream…he does it with a good attitude and he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Smart said.

“Joey is arguably our most valuable player of the year.” said Smart during a discussion on how junior Joey Rodriguez made the transition into this season after losing teammate Eric Maynor to the NBA, a player that Rodriguez had had a lot of synergy with last season.

In touching on the NBA with the mention of Rams-star-turned-NBA-player Maynor playing for the Oaklahoma City Thunder, questions came up about junior forward Larry Sanders’ prospects and how the young head coach would advise Sanders. “We will always do what’s best for the young man, his situation, his family…It’ll be very easy to help him make the right decision.”

For the alumni who follow the recruitment news, Smart spoke very highly of two new high-profile recruits, Rob Brandenberg of Gahanna, Ohio  and Recco McCarter of Goldsboro, NC. The coach said he was impressed with the maturity and leadership potential he saw this weekend while Brandenburg toured the campus and ended up committing to the program.

Students, alumni and other fans enjoyed the event and felt it showed a very personable side of one of college’s youngest head coaches.

“It shows he wants to be in touch, not only with the students, but the fans in general…..it was like talking to him in his own living room.” Stewart Norris, a VCU Alumnus, said after the event. “It’s very rare that you get to talk to a Division 1 Coach like this.”

If this year’s record attendance at the Siegel Center and the turnout for ‘Coach on Campus’ are any indication, fans will be enamored with the coach and his down-to-earth attitude for the remainder of his tenure here at VCU.

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1 Comment

  1. g.murphy

    February 26, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Nicely done Murphy.

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