Something to salivate about in between bites of whatever you are consuming on your first full Sunday of football: VCU could have one of the best shot-blocking teams in the country next season.
In making that statement I am assuming that sophomores Justin Tillman and Mike Gilmore could see increased minutes under Will Wade.
Focusing on Tillman in particular, the combination of his defensive abilities as an undersized center (as he was used often last season) and him being moved over to the power forward position he’s more suited for at this level — plus 15lbs of added muscle hitting Broad St. as a freshman — could give the Rams a dangerous duo of shot-blockers when thrown next to Mo Alie-Cox.
VCU blocked 12.4% of opponents shots this past season, ranking 54th nationally in the stat. They did that by often bringing Tillman in for Alie-Cox, not in alongside him. The two gave VCU the Rams only duo to post blocks percentages of at least 8.7% since kenpom started recording that stat. Neither posted the insane 19.3% blocks percentage Larry Sanders did as a freshman (VCU ranked 37th nationally as a team that season), but combine the two and you’ve got a two-headed monster that has the potential to make scoring very difficult for the opposition starting this November.
Don’t believe me? Ask me who the five best shot-blocking teams were last season.
1. Texas (damnit)
4. St. John’s
Ignoring that first team and scrolling down to No.5, that would be the same Chattanooga team that was recently coached by one Will Wade, currently of the VCU Rams. Most of that production came from a little-used Ram that followed Wade to UTC, Justin Tuoyo. Tuoyo led the Mocs with an 11.6% blocks percentage, up from the 6.9% he posted as a freshman at VCU under Shaka Smart (Tuoyo averaged just 7.2 minutes as a Ram). No other player at UTC posted a blocks percentage of 7% or higher.
Wade not only has a proven Tuoyo-like player in Mo Alie-Cox, who posted a career-high 10.3% blocks percentage as a redshirt freshman, but adds Tillman and his 9.5% freshman mark as well as the long-armed Mike Gilmore.
Read the tea leaves. There could be a serious block party coming to Broad Street in exactly two months when VCU tips up the regular season against Prairie View A&M.