Coach Mike Rhoades considers VCU home, has no plans to leave

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Mike Rhoades' new office at VCU is vast improvement over the shoebox that was previously his home.

Instead of having a bird's eye view of countless high school graduations in the Rams' home arena like he had as a VCU assistant, his new surroundings allow him to watch players workout.

But for the new VCU head coach, it's more than a work place. For him, it's home.

The success of his predecessors - Jeff Capel, Anthony Grant, Shaka Smart and Will Wade - allowed VCU to garner donations to build the $25 million practice facility Rhoades' office overlooks, and provided opportunities for those other coaches to move on to bigger, greener pastures.

But Rhoades, hired to replace Wade when he left after two years to go to LSU, said he's at VCU for the long haul.

''I always said this would be an awesome place to be a coach and there are roots here,'' said Rhoades, who left VCU in 2014 to become the head coach at Rice. ''My kids were born here. We have great friends. We consider this home even though my wife and I grew up in Pennsylvania. We consider this home. I loved it here, I didn't want to move from here, but I had an opportunity to be a head coach at a school where the (athletic director) really wanted me to help build a program. That was a great opportunity for my profession.

''My wife and I - we love Richmond.''

It helps the Rams' program has been to seven consecutive NCAA tournaments, a record for any school in Virginia, and draws perhaps the most raucous crowds in the commonwealth.

''My first game is going to be the 100th straight sellout,'' Rhoades said. ''That's crazy.''

Keeping alive the NCAA Tournament streak will be a challenge. When Smart left two years ago for Texas, the recruits he had signed all bailed, leaving this year's team without a junior class. Apart from seniors Justin Tillman and Jonathan Williams, the Rams had no upperclassmen to welcome their coach into the fold.

Rhoades has filled the void with transfers

Khris Lane, a graduate senior transfer from Longwood, averaged 17.1 points and will be eligible to play right away. The Rams also hope that Issac Vann, who averaged 14 points a game at Maine and sat out last season because of transfer rules, will provide some scoring punch. And waiting in the wings is Marcus Evans, a 19-points a game scorer who followed Rhoades from Rice, after he sits out this year as a transfer.

That door swings both ways, however, and the Rams lost low post player Ahmed Mohammed-Hamdy, who transferred to TCU.

Managing the moving parts is just part of day's work for college coaches like Rhoades.

''The landscape of college basketball right now, it seems like it's to be determined,'' he said. ''Rosters are to be determined. Players' statuses are to be determined. It's not how it should be, but that's how it is so you better understand it and accept it and work through it from there.''

But working through it is what Rhoades thrives on, searching for players who can not only score, but who will also welcome the opportunity to play the kind of full-court pressure basketball that has become a trademark of the VCU program.

Fast. In your face. Pressure.

For Rhoades' mind, the style sells itself.

''The thing I thought in my five years here with Shaka was it created great morale because lots of players had to play,'' he said. ''It's a fun way to play. It's an exciting style of play. Not only is the team excited, but the people that watch it.''

Now, he just has to continue to translate it into wins.

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Follow Hank on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

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