Picture from Houston Press
Less than 24 hours after losing Will Wade, VCU brought another former Shaka assistant back to Richmond. Mike Rhoades, formerly with Rice, will replace Wade as the 5th coach on Broad Street since 2006. Rhoades, like Wade, was an assistant to Shaka during the Final Four run in 2011. Rhoades left the staff after the 2013-14 season to become the head coach of Rice.
Mike Rhoades was a very popular choice among fans to replace Smart in 2015. He only had one season of collegiate head coaching experience at the time and it was a 12-20 season. Wade likely got the nod because he had 2 years’ experience including winning The Southern Conference Coach of the year award after the 2014-15 campaign. The extra year may have given Wade the nod the first time around but Rhoads was the obvious choice this time.
With the suddenness of Wade’s departure and how quickly Rhoades was reported as the next coach for VCU, it appears he was Ed McLaughlin’s first call and clearly a Mike didn’t need to think twice about the move. Though the call may have come at an awkward time for Rhoades, whose team played on the same night VCU got into the market for a new head man. While speaking with FOX 26 in Houston, Rhoades said, “It’s a dream come true,” about the opportunity to coach at VCU.
With the Owls, Rhoades compiled a 47-52. Those numbers on the surface are uninspiring but consider the state the program he took over. When Rhoades got there the school was coming off a 7-win season and experienced a 5-win season the year prior.
The Owls have an all-time win percentage of .439; they finished over .500 one time in 9 seasons before Rhoades took over in 2014-15. His first two seasons in charge led to 12-20 seasons but in his 3rd year, he orchestrated unprecedented 23-12 record. Rice hasn’t reached 23 wins in a season since the 1950’s.
They earned a bid to the CBI tournament. After a first round victory, they lost in the quarterfinals on Monday. The program’s last NCAA tournament appearance came in 1970. They have 4 total appearances in the dance.
It’s unclear how the new coaching staff will be constructed but Ram fans can expect at least one former VCU player to be on the sidelines next season. Joey Rodriguez was with Rhoades Rice and of course, Darius Theus was on Wade’s staff. Another member of that famous group has been a vocal supporter of VCU’s new coach. Brandon Rozzell has used his platform on Twitter to express his feelings about the hire.
Rozzell Tweeted on Tuesday, “Hahahaha The Mayor spoke it into existence… I know you guys are just as happy as me #RamNation #VCU #vcurams “Rhoades is baccckkk”’
Rhoades has a busy offseason ahead of him with his new program. He’ll immediately need to start building relationships with current players and Wade’s talented recruiting class. If Rhoades is able to keep some or all the recruits, then life would be grand on Broad Sreet.
If they decide they want to leave, VCU’s new coach will have up to 4 new scholarships available for a last-minute class. There is an open spot on the roster for a player even if the current class sticks with the Rams. Wade was very open about using this on a grad transfer to supplement next year’s young talent. There is a lot of variables facing the 44-year-old coach.
With the program receiving so much support from the administration, VCU is hopeful Mike Rhoades makes this his home for many years to come.