RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams have returned to the River City. More fans gathered to welcome the team back to Richmond this year than last.
At the Siegel Center Sunday a crowd of loyal home team fans waited with a message of support.
“Good job playing and Im proud of y’all,” said ten-year-old fan Garrett Archibeque.
Another fan sat on the ground for several hours to make sure he got to convey his thoughts.
“We want them to know that we appreciate it, it’s not just about winning or the final four it’s about the effort,” said VCU fan Rick Mason.
And many students came to tell their team that their school is still standing behind them.
“Be happy with how far you’ve gone and be proud of what you did,” said freshman fan Toni Chandler.
But few fans present could be prouder than Betty Tudor. She graduated a Ram back in 1975.
“I loved VCU when I was here and I love it now,” said Tudor.
Tudor claimed the recent rising basketball program at the school has changed the dynamics of school spirit that she remembers from years ago.
“We didn’t have a basketball team and we didn’t have the unity that a lot of students do now,” said Tudor.
VCU alum and dedicated fan Scott Hall recalls the same from his time at the school in the late eighties.
“You could hardly find the school and now you see people wearing shirts everywhere you go,” said Hall.
The players returned to a healthy dose of that spirit and it looked as though they could use it after a tough two point loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament. While fans felt their pain Saturday night, a day later they just expressed gratitude for the chance at greatness once again.
“They’ve come so far and two years running it’s just amazing it’s just so grand,” said Tudor.
The Rams finished their season with a school record of 29 wins and CAA tournament champions.
“This team had an unbelievable year and we really overachieved in a lot of ways,” said Coach Shaka Smart in a post-game interview.
“I really right now feel for Bradford Burgess, our only senior, who this is obviously the last game of his [college] career…it sucks to end it this way.”
“This is how life works, you think you deserve it and you work so hard for it and sometimes you fall short,” said Burgess disappointedly, in the post-game interview from the locker room.
Burgess scored 15 points in that final game as a VCU Ram.
The team kept up an incredible pace throughout the game, though scoring slowed in the second half. The team was able to force 22 Indiana turnovers, the second most Indiana has ever had in an NCAA tournament game, said CBS 6 sport’s director Lane Casadonte.
The Rams, seeded 12, certainly did not let the Indiana Hoosier’s, seeded number four, take home a landslide victory. The Hoosier’s only managed to eek out a two-point win, with a final score of 63-61. Throughout most of the game the Rams were ahead.