Redden’s Return Marks Turnaround For SLU

John Redden’s time had finally come. He worked hard for three years, and as the season began, the senior had finally earned the starting point guard spot.

“At the beginning of the season, I really felt good,” said Redden. “I was in great shape and had a lot of confidence.”

Men’s head basketball coach Lorenzo Romar said, “He brings a lot of energy, especially on the defensive end. He doesn’t get rattled.”

But in the Bills’ first game this year, Redden’s future and role on the team changed. Redden suffered a stress fracture in his right foot four minutes into his first career start against Air Force.

The injury was eerily familiar to Redden. He had suffered a similar injury earlier in his Billiken career in his left foot.

“I knew when it happened,” Redden said. “It felt the same as sophomore year.”

Redden ended up sitting out 10 of the Bills’ games. Redden noticed the effects of the injury as soon as he started playing again.

“All I could do was ride the bike to stay in shape. It’s not the same as playing shape,” Redden stated. “My right leg was weaker than the other. I’m not as quick and have trouble jumping, even though my foot is back to 100 percent. I wanted to get back in the flow.”

Redden played sparingly in the first three games, trying to “get back in the flow.” Then he showed signs of a breakout. It came against Memphis.

Redden played 16 minutes and was SLU’s silent star. Redden’s impact was not seen in his statistics- no shots, one for two from the free throw line, one rebound, three assists, one block and two steals.

But Redden brought many intangibles to the court that day, that the Bills had been missing. Redden provided a needed spark for the Bills, bringing intensity on the defensive end of the floor and leadership on the offensive end, while dishing out spectacular passes for key baskets during the Billikens’ runs.

The Bills trailed Memphis by 12 points when Redden entered the game. The Bills outscored the Tigers by 21 points while Redden was in the game. The run Redden helped initiate led the Bills to a 75-67 victory.

“He anticipates well. You feel J.R. out there. Our guys can feel his energy,” Romar said.

“I was out there having fun. We needed to get out of a losing streak. I wanted to win. I wanted to play hard,” Redden said.

Redden’s role has changed from guiding the team as a starter to providing the energy the Bills need off the bench. After a few more games, Redden may regain his starting spot. But Redden is happy with the change for now.

Redden continued his intensity in the Bills’ game against SIU Carbondale. He helped the Bills take over the game and, eventually, beat the Salukis, 76-64.

Romar thinks that Redden’s multidimensional skills give opponents fits in preparing for the Bills. His defensive and offensive capabilities frustrate foes.

“You can’t scout him,” Romar said.

With his role shifting, Redden could provide the spark the Bills will need during their rough-and-tumble Conference USA games.