The remainder of the season for the University of Richmond's men's basketball team will be played against schools in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
The streak, which started Jan. 17 against St. Bonaventure University, continued last Sunday, Jan. 25, in St. Louis, against St. Louis University, where the Spiders won 70-62. The Spiders, 11-9 overall, rank seventh within the A-10 with a record of 3-2.
Coach Chris Mooney said that out of the team's next four opponents, St. Louis -- ranked No. 9 in the conference -- was most similar to the Spiders in terms of age and experience. Richmond plays six freshmen, while St. Louis plays eight.
The Spiders lost a home game last night against Saint Joseph's University, ranked second in the conference. They will play a game in Philadelphia against No. 6 conference ranked Temple University at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31. The team will travel to Amherst, Mass., to face the University of Massachusetts, ranked 10th, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4.
Senior Jarhon Giddings said this stretch of games would be tough for the team, especially because three of the four games will be played on the road.
"We will learn a lot about ourselves from how we perform during this stretch," he said.
Junior David Gonzalvez viewed the games with optimism.
"I think that if we all play with the passion that God has graced us with, then we have a chance to beat all of those teams," he said.
During winter break the team played seven games, adding four wins and three losses to its record. Overall, six of the Spiders' eight losses this season have been by seven points or less, with five games by five points or less. Mooney said recent practices had focused on improving the team's last-minute composure.
"We will recreate the game situation and play that out," Mooney said.
The team also talked through different scenarios in order to know what to expect and to prepare more effectively for them.
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This approach to practice has been helpful, Gonzalvez said.
"It prepares us for close game situations by repeating and re-enacting them," he said. "It helps us to calm down and relax when we're in the real game."
Giddings agreed that the practices had been beneficial because they allowed the players to focus and control their emotions.
"When we are faced with a similar situation in the game, we are better able to remain calm and focus on getting a good shot, as well as knowing what we need to do on defense," he said.
Gonzalvez said he was looking to improve his consistency in the way he mentally prepared for games and practices.
"If I pour out my energy in the practice and games, then I feel like I've done my part," he said. "But if I don't contribute the intangible things to the team that I can bring, then I don't deserve to be on the floor."
Even though the team has lost some close games, Mooney said he thought the team's defense and rebounding had improved since the season began in November. At the start of the season, the team's offense was good but its defense was behind in skill level, he said. But it has now started to catch up, he said, attributing increased aggressiveness and more fighting for the ball as two areas that have really made a difference.
Contact staff writer Jill Cavaliere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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