The University of Richmond men's basketball team lost to Saint Mary's College during the first round of the NCAA Tournament last week, but Richmond's coach offered only praise for his team.
"This was a tremendous season for us," head coach Chris Mooney said. "I couldn't be more proud of my team even if we had won the game or advanced in the tournament."
The Spiders earned their first berth in the NCAA tournament since 2004 with an at-large bid after finishing third in the Atlantic 10. Richmond set a school-record with 24 regular-season wins, and defeated every team in the A-10 at least once.
"We fought hard throughout this season," senior guard David Gonzalvez said. "I just can't say enough about how hard my teammates worked and just how much we came together as a program on and off the court, and it showed with the success we had this season."
Gonzalvez finished his Richmond career fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,727 points. He and fellow senior Ryan Butler both rank in the top five for career 3-pointers made, with Gonzalvez converting on 237 and Butler making 166.
"I don't know if we can replace those guys," junior point guard Kevin Anderson said of the seniors. "They do so much on the defensive end. They're leaders on our team. It's going to be so hard to replace them."
This season, Anderson became the first Spider to earn the A-10 Player of the Year award. He scored in double figures during 32 of Richmond's 35 games while accumulating 622 points, the seventh most by a Spider in a single season.
"I expect us to not let this loss set us back," Anderson said. "It really hurt to lose this game, but we've got to work hard in the offseason like we did during the previous offseason."
The team also set school records for blocks and steals in a single season with 158 and 289 respectively.
Richmond entered the tournament ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press men's basketball poll and also entered the polls earlier during the season for the first time since 1986.
Mooney, who led the team from an 8-22 season three years ago to 26 wins this season, was named A-10 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Phelan National Coach of the Year award. Mooney could be a candidate for vacant head coaching positions at Seton Hall University and elsewhere, but he refused to comment on that possibility, and said he was "anxious to get to work on sustaining [Richmond's] success."
The Spiders will return three starters next year in Anderson, sophomore Darrius Garrett and junior Justin Harper. Juniors Dan Geriot and Kevin Smith, and sophomore Francis-Cedric Martel, all of whom saw significant playing time this season, will also be back.
"I think this [season] is very important and significant for us as not a final destination, but a step," Mooney said. "We have a lot of good players coming back, we're confident in everybody's ability, and I think we're well-rounded enough that we can continue to be very, very good and competitive on a national level."
Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at email@example.com
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