Saturday, May 3, 2014

VCU Basketball: Mo Alie-Cox V. Justin Tillman for Reddic’s position

Below is one of the many sports blog articles I've written over the course of my internship as the VCU Men's Basketball sports correspondent for I've been able to find my sports "voice" over the past few months and I'm enjoying learning more every week. Enjoy!

As VCU loses a strong forward, they’re now faced with the dilemma of Mo Alie-Cox V. Justin Tillman for Reddic’s position. With a previous starting lineup projected to consist of Weber, Graham, Johnson, Larrier and Burgess, a powerful forward is still missing from this lineup. Coach Smart can most certainly play with these strong guards, rounded out by Terry Larrier as their small forward. With this lineup the Rams will see speed and shooting, but Smart is one to keep an authoritative 5 position under the basket.

Mo Alie-Cox had the crowd chanting “MO SAYS NO” with every block he slammed down on his opponents. Being that Mo had 48 blocks last season, this left fans with a lot to cheer for. Mo started in four games and played time in all the games last season. Mo averaged 3.3 PPG and 3.6 Reb/Game, and looks to be the best fit in trying to fill Reddic’s shoes. The only problem, the size of those shoes is a bit smaller with Mo as he is 6-6. Reddic was 6-9 and utilized his height very well under the basket. Fans have seen Mo’s ability to jump and stuff many of his opponents, so he has proven his ability to get that height under the basket, but when trying to say he will be the new Reddic, the height alone makes that difficult to say.

Now to upcoming freshman Justin Tillman, who will have to put in a ton of work with the team in order to even think about a starting position. Tillman stands just a bit taller than Mo at 6-7, but he is faster than most players his size and he plays faster than Reddic did. Tillman’s athleticism is no secret and he uses his power to not only score, but to play defense untouched. When comparing weight, both Reddic and Mo are 250 pounds, Tillman is 185. This strength under the net is definitely a necessity for Smart’s plays. Although Tillman has much less meat on his bones, he still finds a way to utilize his body and create strength on the court. Additionally, as he trains with the team, as most newcomers do, he will likely gain a good amount of muscle strength.

These two players appear to be a good fit for Reddic’s forward position, but one player that may see some more playing time is Jarred Guest. Guest does have the height Smart needs. He’s 6-9 (225 IBS) and has earned playing time in all the games last season as well. His stats are somewhat mediocre, but he is a talented rebounder on both ends of the court. His offensive rebounds come in handy for sure because VCU lacks on offense from time to time. His experience with Smart’s plays and his chemistry with the team may enable Guest to fill some of the Reddic void as well.