Shannon’s departure shouldn’t be understated

Colin Kennedy
Sports Editor

Redshirt senior Terrance Shannon left the VCU men’s basketball team for personal reasons, according to a statement released by VCU Athletics on Feb. 18.

While we’re left to wonder what may have caused Shannon’s departure, a portion of RamNation is undoubtedly discounting the impact his loss may have on head coach Shaka Smart’s team.

Shannon’s expectations were unreasonably high when he transferred to VCU from Florida State University. Injuries had forced the former Seminole to sit out much of his junior campaign, but Shannon showed spurts of potential when he was healthy under FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton.

Shannon came to the Rams hoping to provide the team with frontcourt insurance. He started the first six games of the season, and gave Smart 14 points in 23 minutes of action in his first career game with VCU. Unfortunately, however, that would be the climax of Shannon’s output for the Rams.

He missed three games beginning in late November to attend to family matters, and then saw inconsistent playing time in nine games before injuring his knee in late January.

Since returning from the knee problem in July, Shannon’s role in VCU’s lineup was minimal. He scored zero points in 21 minutes over the Rams’ last five games, and often appeared lost on the offensive side of the floor.

He’s a high-energy hustler who has the ability to provide a spark off the bench when the rest of the team is tiring. Sadly, Shannon never fully reached his potential under Smart mostly because he was a liability in the offensive post.

But fans who overlook his loss are only viewing half of the picture.

Shannon’s departure is arguably going to be felt in the locker room more than on the hardwood. He was a level-headed veteran who had more experience than any player on the team. He was an emotional leader who provided the Rams with a big body and an inspirational work ethic.

He didn’t fill up the box scores or factor heavily into opposing defensive game plans, but Shannon would have been a valuable asset as a relatively young Rams roster heads into postseason play.

Now, look for redshirt freshman Mo Alie-Cox and junior forward Jarred Guest to receive increased playing time in the frontcourt rotation. Both Cox and Guest have far better offensive skill sets than did Shannon; however, neither possesses the combination of height and weight that Shannon offered on the defensive end.

Cox, who leads the team in blocks, may be the greatest beneficiary of Shannon’s departure in terms of minutes because his style of play is more comparable. Guest is more of a stretch forward who can be used to spread the defense out when Smart wants to put a perimeter-friendly lineup on the floor, while Cox can be used to body a big man and protect the rim.

You could say the Rams are losing 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but that might be unfair to a group of guys that has spent the past nine months with each other bonding over Navy Seal training and more.

At the end of the day, the VCU men’s basketball team lost a veteran leader and a member of their family. It will be interesting to see how they rebound during the season’s final four games, but don’t think Shannon’s absence won’t be felt.

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