Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rea's Rams Report: No. 1

Justin Tillman with the smooth jumper
over Noah Horchler

Monday night at the Siegel Center VCU's senior power forward, Justin Tillman, schooled the visiting University of North Florida Ospreys on what a bona fide Atlantic 10 preseason poll first team pick looks like, up close. Tillman scored 27 points (on 13-for-17 shooting from the field). He also grabbed eight boards and blocked a couple of shots.

Still, the Rams had to score the last seven points of the game to win it by 10 points: VCU 95, NF 85.

That victory moved the Rams to a 2-0 record. VCU's undefeated status will be severely tested on Friday, when the University of Virginia Cavaliers visit the Rams' West Broad Street home court (4 p.m.; CBSSN). The game will be VCU's 102nd consecutive sell-out. The Cavs, with their stingy Pack Line defense, are also sitting at 2-0.

It's worth noting that Virginia has held its two opponents this season to 48 and 49 points. VCU, with its explosive offense, has scored 94 and 95 points. Something's got to give. However, with Virginia's reputation for running a painfully deliberate offense the pace of the game could well be a key factor for the winner. The Rams will surely want to play faster than the Cavs.

Still, fast or slow, VCU has to outscore Virginia. That likely means the Rams will have to limit the points scored by three players, in particular: 6-foot-5-inch senior guard Devon Hall; 6-foot-2-inch sophomore guard Kyle Guy; 7-foot-1-inch freshman forward Jay Huff.

Two games into the 2017-18 season two pleasant surprises about new VCU players are: Sophomore transfer Issac Vann, a small forward, was billed as a potent addition to the Rams offense. While he's shown flashes that back that up, Vann been one of the better defensive players. Freshman power forward Sean Mobley has shown good court sense as well as a pair of good hands. Look for them to get more playing time.

The overall athleticism of Coach Mike Rhoades' young squad is impressive, but that's been more in evidence when the Rams have the ball. On Friday VCU's defense will probably be tested more than it has been this season. 

-- Photo from VCU

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