Richmond buries VCU to likely end Rams' NCAA Tournament hopes

Richmond buries VCU to likely end Rams' NCAA Tournament hopes

RICHMOND, Va.-- Nick Sherod drained 5 of 7 3-pointers and scored 23 points and Richmond beat VCU 77-59 on Saturday.

Grant Golden had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Richmond (19-6, 9-3 Atlantic 10 Conference), which won its fourth consecutive game. Blake Francis added 13 points, Nathan Cayo had 11 points and Jacob Gilyard had 10 points, six assists and five steals. Sherod had eight rebounds.

Richmond closed the first half with a 9-0 road to lead 42-24. The 24 points as a season-low for VCU. A 12-2 run early in the third quarter effectively put the game away.

Marcus Santos-Silva had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Rams (17-8, 7-5). Issac Vann added 10 points. Vince Williams had seven rebounds.

VCU defeated Richmond 87-68 on Jan. 28. Richmond matches up against George Mason at home on Wednesday. VCU matches up against No. 6 Dayton at home on Tuesday.


How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

Starting any new job can be stressful, but starting it under a COVID-19 outbreak? A whirlwind.  

That’s exactly how Howard University’s new head football coach, Larry Scott, describes it.  

“You take the job beginning of February and ask yourself, what all has to be done?” Scott said. “And you go, ‘Everything.’”   

And yet you can’t do anything outside of your home. 

Scott is challenged with trying to change the culture of a team that finished the 2019 season 2-10, seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He’s had to evaluate his roster, hire a new coaching staff, and hopefully bring in the right recruits.  Seems impossible, but Scott sees it completely the opposite.  

“It’s all about people, it’s all about building a strong connection within a team,” Scott said.  “Thank god I had some really good strong relationships with some coaches that I have worked with and admired from afar."

Scott coached under Dan Mullen at the University of Florida and Butch Jones at the University of Tennessee, learning leadership skills he has relied upon while installing his own system at Howard -- especially during this trying time.   

“It actually plays well into the whole concept -- football is still about people and how you make them feel,” Scott said. “Trust factors are built though connections.” 

Howard’s football team holds position meetings two times a week, staff meetings once a week, and uses Zoom to communicate with players daily.  Scott held his first full team meeting on Monday using Microsoft Teams while his strength and conditioning coach sends out daily workouts via Twitter challenging players to find creative ways to stay in football shape.  

Full-body workouts can be better than weights. Packing a book bag or finding water bottles can substitute creativity when the normal tools are not available. It’s about taking ownership of your body, when no one is telling you what time to be in the gym or standing over you counting reps.   

But all that is expected for a football team. Scott is also holding meetings that involve the full academic staff.  

“We have a plan for how we’re attacking academics and our online classes,” Scott said.  

A big part of that are talks on shifting the grade system to pass-fail concepts and where to accept letter grades. Scott wants his players to keep their scholarships and stay eligible. If they don’t keep their studies up, all the training in the world won’t matter. There is no football. Not even when football returns.   

For Scott, the cool thing about communicating all this to young men, is just that. They’re young. The virtual world is more their reality than any previous generation. They order all their food through Uber Eats. They have endless apps on their phones. They can adapt because technology lets them. And in so doing they help their coach adapt, too, during tough times. Together, when they finally return to the field, Scott believes they’ll all have a deeper appreciation for college football. 

“It’s kind of fun entering into their world into how they see things and view things and being able to still reach them and relate to them and teach them on a level that is expanding our mind,” Scott said. “It’s still about seeing young people find ways to have success, create avenues of opportunity.”   

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March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

Eight years later, Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle O’Quinn still remembers the euphoria from the long walk through the tunnels at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. 

To him, it felt like the longest walk ever as he and his Norfolk State teammates were “walking on clouds” after his 15th-seeded Spartans upset the second-seeded Missouri Tigers, 86-84, in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. 

In what was Norfolk State’s first — and to date, its only — tournament appearance, the Spartans put the small Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school from Virginia on the map and wrecked brackets around the nation, becoming the first No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed since 2001 when then-MEAC rival Hampton beat Iowa State. 

“You’re hoping that you can win this game because very few have done it,” O’Quinn told NBC Sports Washington. “It came down to us believing that we’re just as good as the other team. We took the names off the jerseys, the names off the backs, we didn’t care who their coach was, and we just played.”

As O’Quinn made that journey through the tunnels, he yelled, “We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!"

While Norfolk State celebrated in the locker room, droves of college basketball fans — including President Barack Obama, who projected Missouri to be a Final Four participant — faced the reality that their bracket was ruined in the first round. 

Given the history of No. 2 seeds against No. 15 seeds, combined with the fact that Missouri was a team that some analysts thought should have received a No. 1 seed, most wrote off Norfolk State. While analysts, fans, pundits and even the President advanced Missouri through the first round without much thought, then-head coach Anthony Evans went to work on a game plan. 

“We thought we could match up. Obviously, they had better players, but the matchup would be similar in the style of play,” Evans told NBC Sports Washington. “We were confident. And I knew [O’Quinn] would be an X-factor.”

Evans’ prediction came to fruition as the game played out. O’Quinn established a presence in the low post, allowing the Spartans to jump out to an early lead. Missouri did counter and the game was tied 38-38 at the half. 

But Norfolk State created mounting pressure as it hung around in the second half. The Spartans also benefited from the presence of Kansas fans, who were preparing to watch the second-seeded Jayhawks later that evening and cheered for the upset over a Big 12 rival.

“At some point, the pressure was going to build on them because they were seeded so high,” Evans said. “They were going to feel it as we stayed in it.”

Pressure intensified with 34 seconds to play when O’Quinn caught a teammate's errant 3-point attempt, an airball, and hit a layup while drawing a foul. O’Quinn’s ensuing free throw put the Spartans up 84-81. 

But Missouri still had a chance in the waning seconds. Star guard Phil Pressey pushed the ball up the floor and pulled up for a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded. 

“I could watch it 10 times right now, and I still think it might go in,” O’Quinn said. “I can still see the shot going in and it being one of those things where it’s like ‘Well they fought, and they just fell a little short.’”

That wasn’t the case, though. Instead, Pressey’s attempt caromed off the rim, igniting an on-court celebration years in the making for O’Quinn, a senior from New York City playing in his final college games. He scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. It was a breakout game where O’Quinn made a name for himself and paved his way to becoming a second-round NBA draft pick — a far cry from when he received one scholarship offer out of high school.

O’Quinn received help from his teammates, too. Norfolk State’s five starters scored all 86 of the team’s points. Guards Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams dropped 20 points each, while forwards Marcos Tamares and Rodney McCauley added 11 and nine, respectively. Two days after the historic upset, seventh-seeded Florida routed the Spartans, 84-50. 

Still, Norfolk State had added its name to NCAA tournament upset lore in its first-ever appearance in the Big Dance and that’s something that can never be taken away from anybody on that team. To this day, only eight No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2. Ironically, half of them are from Virginia (Richmond over Syracuse in 1991, Hampton over Iowa State in 2001 and Norfolk State in 2012) or Maryland (Coppin State beat South Carolina in 1997). And UMBC remains the only No. 16 to beat a No. 1 with its historic win over Virginia in 2018. It is a club the Spartans will always be a part of.  

“Number one,” O’Quinn said without hesitation when asked where that moment ranks in his basketball career. “It’s just the pride of the name on your jersey...That game, to stand out that much and impact so many lives, it has to be number one.”