It would be understandable if the University of Richmond men's basketball team struggled defensively early on this season after losing David Gonzalvez and Ryan Butler, two of the best defenders in school history, to graduation after the end of last season. Instead, this year's team has exceeded even Richmond coach Chris Mooney's expectations.
"I am somewhat surprised," Mooney said. "I thought we've played very well defensively. Very few breakdowns or miscommunications."
Mooney said that he devoted more practice time to defense than ever before to try to make up for the loss of Gonzalvez and Butler. That work has paid off as the Spiders defeated the College of William & Mary, 73-49, Monday night in front of 4,320 at the Robins Center.
The Spiders held their opponent to fewer than 50 points for the second time in two games this season. During the season opener on Friday night, The Citadel was held to 37 points.
"To play this well defensively is kind of eye-opening for us," senior center Dan Geriot said. "We had two great defenders that graduated but the guys we have now are just a little bit different and the defense just works a lot better."
After starting the game going 3-5 from beyond the 3-point arc, the Tribe missed their remaining 10 3-pointers the rest of the game. Combine that, Richmond holding the Tribe to 34.6 percent shooting and a balanced offensive attack and that's a recipe for a nearly unstoppable Richmond attack.
Five Richmond players scored in double figures with seniors Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper leading the team with 13 points each. Through two games, Anderson — last year's Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year — is averaging 9.5 points per game despite Richmond averaging 76 points per game.
Mooney said that the Spider offense was at its best when it got that offensive balance.
"I think probably every coach in the country would want that balance," Mooney said. "When we're playing like that and we're moving the ball and sharing the ball, I think we're very, very effective because all of these good players we have are getting those opportunities to touch the ball, to shoot the ball to make plays."
The game didn't start as planned for the Spiders. William & Mary jumped out to a 15-8 lead with 13:37 remaining in the first half. But the Spiders scored the next 12 points which started with a foul-line jumper by Geriot.
Before the half was over, Richmond went on a 27-5 run to close out the half and take command of the game.
"We know the game is long and there's no sense in getting frustrated there early," Geriot said. "They made a couple of good plays and made a couple of good shots. We didn't in the beginning and we knew we were better and had to show it over a full 40 minutes."
The game also featured two players setting career-highs in scoring. One game after making an impressive debut, freshman guard Cedrick Lindsay followed it up with a 12 point, four assist performance. Sophomore Greg Robbins also scored 12 points (all of them coming in the second half) while making 3-4 3-pointers attempted.
The Spiders play next at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Iona University. Last year, they lost their first game on the road, which was at William & Mary.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at firstname.lastname@example.org
Support independent student media
You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.Donate Now