All posts by Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram is the Sports Director for WVCW Sports. Follow WVCW Sports on twitter @WVCWSports.

Off-Season Edition: The Week That Was In VCU Basketball

Mo Alie-Cox To The NFL 

Mo-Alie Cox (6-foot-7, 250 pounds) will be the latest college basketball player looking to make a career in the NFL than the NBA, and of course he’ll try to make it in the NFL as tight end.

Cox doesn’t have to look far back for inspiration as Rico Gathers made the same transition last year.  Gathers played basketball at Baylor University and drew 24 NFL clubs for his pre-draft workout. Gathers was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round and is currently on the team’s praactice squad.  Cox can also look at other NFL players like Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, and Antonio Gates as guys who made the transition from college basketball to the NFL.

Cox has told NFL teams he will work out for scouts on April 11, here in Richmond, VA.

Lavar Batts and Mayan Kiir decommit from VCU following Will Wade’s departure 

Lavar Batts Jr. decided to decommit from VCU and recommits to North Carolina State. Batts was expected to get a lot of playing time in his first year at VCU.  Two days later, Mayan Kiir decided to ask for his release from VCU as well. The 6-10, 4 star center was also expected to play huge minutes as a freshman.  New head coach Mike Rhoades will now have three open scholarships to fill this offseason. But the good news for Ram fans is that they were able to keep Marcus Santos-Silva and Sean Mobley, and the future is still bright even though it’s gloomy at the moment.

Ahmed Hamdy considering leaving the program 

Ahmed Hamdy has requested his release from the school and will look at other options for his final year of eligibility. However, Hamdy indicated that his decision to leave VCU is not final, and it’s still possible he will stay with the Rams. As a junior, Ahmed Hamdy averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

VCU Hires Mike Rhoades As Their New Head Coach

It’s official. VCU hired Rice head coach Mike Rhoades to replace Will Wade, who took the job at LSU on Monday night.  Both were finalists for the VCU opening after Shaka Smart left for Texas two years ago and a lot of people then thought Rhoades was the right guy for the job.

Rhoades was an assistant coach under Shaka Smart at VCU for five seasons, before becoming the head coach at Rice for the past three seasons. Rhoades led Rice to a 23-12 record this season, gaining an invite to the CBI Tournament.

Rhoades also has experience on the Division III level, coaching at Randolph-Macon for 10 seasons as their head coach.

VCU will introduce Mike Rhoades as their new men’s basketball coach tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. inside the E.J. Wade Arena and the announcement will be open to the public.

 

 

Will Wade Bolts For LSU

Will Wade is leaving VCU to become the next head coach at LSU after leading the Rams to their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament this season, where they lost to St. Mary’s in the first round.

LSU made the official announcement Monday night on it’s Twitter page. Wade coached the Rams for two seasons after taking over for Shaka Smart who left in 2015 for Texas.

VCU went 51-20 under Wade in his two seasons, making the NCAA Tournament in both years and winning a NCAA Tournament in 2016 against Oregon State.

Now the question is, who will be the next head coach for VCU?  The front runner as of now is Rice head coach and former VCU assistant under Smart, Mike Rhodes, who led Rice to 23 wins this season.

Maybe the bigger question is, with a Top 25 recruitng class supposedly coming in, will these recruits leave like we saw when Shaka left. Lavar Batts, Sean Mobley, Marcos Santos-Silva, Mayan Kiir are among the recruits who committed to VCU, but who says they are to go elsewhere now.

Just a few days ago things were looking bright for the future of VCU basketball, now the program is in the midst of uncertainty that can either set the program back or keep the continued success we’ve seen here over the last seven years. Only time will tell.

RECAP: VCU Rallies Late To Stun Old Dominion 67-64

The VCU Rams and Old Dominion Monarchs rivalry is like no other. There’s a strong hatred between the two schools and it makes for great basketball on the court. Saturday night was another instant classic between the Rams and Monarchs that came down to the final seconds at the Ted Center.

VCU, who came into the game losers of their last two, knew heading to Norfolk this was a must win.

“We had a way about us tonight. We knew we were going to dig it out somehow,” head coach Will Wade said.

The Rams trailed 55-44 with 7:37 remaining, but mounted a great comeback led by senior guard JeQuan Lewis. Lewis scored 12 points during a 16-1 VCU run that was highlighted by a Lewis 4-point play that tied the game at 55. The run by VCU lasted a little less than 3 minutes and once VCU was able to get a lead they weren’t going to let this game slip away.

“I just wanted to be more aggressive, just get the ball to the rim,” Lewis said.

Old Dominion aided the comeback as well, going 13 of 28 from the foul line and missing 9 of 14 in the final stretch of the game.

VCU went 6-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch, but the Monarchs still had two final looks to either tie or take the lead, but VCU forced a shot-clock violation with 5.8 seconds left, and senior Mo Alie-Cox forced Ahmad Caver into a contested 3-point shot as time expired.

Along with Lewis, freshman De’Riante Jenkins had a breakout performance on the road. Jenkins provided 11 points and 6 rebounds for the Rams, while Alie-Cox handled his own in the paint scoring 8 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and collecting 4 block shots on the night.

B.J. Stith led the Monarchs with 17 points, while Caver added 16.

VCU will returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 17 when it hosts Middle Tennessee State at the E.J. Wade Arena at the Siegel Center at 7 p.m.

VCU Holds Off UNCG To Secure The Victory 65-54

The VCU Rams returned back to the E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center Sunday afternoon to face the UNCG Spartans after playing three straight road contests at George Washington, Furman, and Old Dominion. The Rams came into this game losing three of their last four games, which included a loss to former CAA rival Old Dominion, 70-60 in their last outing.

The Rams got off to a slow start in the first quarter as they struggled to defend Nadine Soliman and Bailey Williams as the two combined to score 19 points in the first quarter. Heading into the second quarter down by 5, the defensive energy by the Rams picked up and crashing the offensive glass was a key factor as well in the quarter. Unlike the first quarter, Williams and Soliman struggled to find a rhythm, and it made it difficult for the Spartans to generate any offense as VCU was able to take a 32-28 lead heading into halftime thanks to an 11-0 run.

The Rams defense had a profound impact in this game. VCU scored 13 points off 11 Spartans turnovers.

VCU led throughout the second half and the game was never in question down the stretch as senior guard Keira Robinson hit a corner three to seal the win for VCU.

Robinson led VCU with 15 points and senior guard Ashley Pegram added 9 points.

VCU will play its final nonconference game of 2016-17 at home against Brown on Dec. 29. The Rams will begin Atlantic 10 play with a New Year’s Day home matinee against La Salle.

VCU Loses In Dramatic Fashion To Georgia Tech In Overtime

Coming off a 64-46 loss to Big Ten member Illinois on December 3rd, the VCU Rams were looking for a bounce back performance against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets tonight. The same went for Georgia Tech as they were coming off an embarrassing loss to Tennessee 81-58.

VCU didn’t get the wdsc_6596-4in they were looking for as they fell to Georgia Tech in overtime 76-73, and going forward this loss will sting as VCU makes a push for the NCAA tournament come March. After the game head coach
Will Wade didn’t have a lot to say to the media, and just hinted at having an open conversation with his players.

“I told them what I was thinking and got some of their opinions on some things. We’ll formulate a plan here moving forward,” Wade said.

Forward Justin Tillman had a career night in which he scored 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and senior guard JeQuan Lewis added 16 points, but there will still times throughout the game in which the Rams’ offense was stagnate against the Yellow Jacket’s zone defense.

VCU didn’t pldsc_6613-5ay with much energy in the first half, but in the second half it looked as if VCU was a totally different team. VCU was able to take the lead late in the second half, but Georgia Tech always had an answer for the Rams, forcing the game into overtime.

In overtime, it was all Georgia Tech, even though VCU had multiple opportunities at the end to tie the game that fell short.

Now heading to Norfolk to play Old Dominion on Saturday in a rivalry game, thisdsc_6531-1
may be as close to a must win for VCU early in the season as it can get.

“We’re going to move forward. It’s a tough one,” Lewis said.

(Photo Credits: Chris Richardson)