February 12, 2003 News & Features » Cover Story

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Coaches 

Jerry Wainwright and Jeff Capel for heating up college basketball in Richmond.

Wainwright has paced up and down the court at the University of Richmond's Robins Center this season, replacing the familiar sideline crouch of popular former coach John Beilien. Wainwright succeeds a coach who averaged 20 wins per season in his five years at the helm, but Wainwright is no stranger to success. He has led the Spiders to a commendable start this season, slaying two Top-25 opponents on the road: Stanford University and Atlantic 10 foe Xavier University. Wainwright sits in his office surrounded by a sea of toys and trinkets -- a collection that has grown steadily throughout his 8-year coaching career -- hoping to bring the success he had at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington to the Richmond men's program.

Only a few years ago Capel was running the floor in Cameron Indoor Stadium. But now Virginia Commonwealth University's fiery first-year coach is the youngest Division I collegiate coach in the nation. At 28, he is less than five years older than a couple of his Ram seniors.

"He relates better to students than an older coach does," says Keith Rafter, assistant director of marketing and promotions. And the university has used Capel's youth and enthusiasm as a hook in its marketing campaigns. Capel doesn't seem to mind getting involved with the student body, helping with freshman move-in day, passing out schedules on campus and going one-on-one with dormitory students in a PlayStation 2 college basketball video-game challenge. And on the court, the Rams are battling for a high seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament March 7-10 in Richmond.

These coaches have already gone head to head. In the VCU-UR game earlier this season, Capel earned an overtime win over Wainwright and the Spiders. But both new coaches deserve a high-five.

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