The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Men’s basketball head coach signs extension

<p>Richmond Spiders head coach Chris Mooney watches the Richmond Spiders. <em>Courtesy of Mark Cornelison</em></p>

Richmond Spiders head coach Chris Mooney watches the Richmond Spiders. Courtesy of Mark Cornelison

Chris Mooney, head coach of the University of Richmond men’s basketball team, signed a contract extension on June 16 that will keep him with the Spiders through the 2026-2027 season. 

Former UR men’s basketball forward Grant Golden, who sits second on UR’s all-time scoring list, praised Mooney and his coaching ability. 

“If it were up to me and the guys who played for him, he’d be a lifer at Richmond,” Golden said. “He not only is a great coach, mentor and basketball mind, but someone who would literally do anything for any of his players no matter the circumstances. He has done nothing but be a great leader of men and an excellent ambassador of the University and he will continue to do that.”

Since being named head coach in 2005, Mooney has built quite the resumé with the Spiders. In his 17 years, he has led the program to three wins in the NCAA tournament, two Atlantic 10 Conference championships, nine postseason appearances, 27 power conference wins and 15 wins against top-25 teams. He has the fourth most conference wins in Atlantic 10 history and the fifth most overall wins in Atlantic 10 history.

Looking back over his career at UR, the most recent 2021-2022 campaign was certainly one that helped Mooney’s case for securing his position with the Spiders for the next five years, as since 2018, fans have vocalized their desire to have Mooney fired. Before Mooney’s previous extension, a billboard on Interstate 95 showed fans’ disapproval of Mooney with the message #FireMooney

So, to have a season with the amount of success that the 2021-2022 season did, along with an upset against #10 Kentucky in the early stages of 2020, put some of those qualms to bed.  

Not only did the Spiders win the Atlantic 10 Championship this past March — where they knocked off #1 seeded Davidson College as a #6 seed — but they also made it to the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Round of 32. In the Round of 64, the Spiders defeated the #5 seed University of Iowa Hawkeyes in an upset

Andrew Aguilera ‘18, who co-hosts a podcast about Spiders basketball called Frontline Fanatics, said that Mooney’s extension was something he and others saw coming.

“After an up-and-down season, that tournament run is what helped Coach Mooney lock down this extension. While I have heard a lot of fans want something new and fresh with a new and younger core than last year, it’s hard to deviate away after such a successful postseason.”

When the postseason began, UR’s record against conference opponents was only 10-8, which put it sixth in the conference behind Davidson College, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Dayton, St. Bonaventure University and Saint Louis University. 

Clara Kugelman ‘25 said as long-time fans of Spiders basketball, her family was anxious to see how the 2021-2022 season would play out. 

"Covid eligibility was such a significant factor this season, especially when talking about the chemistry and experience of the team. 

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“Nevertheless, Mooney still had a lot of pressure riding on this season. I feel like the program is heading in the right direction, especially transitioning from the matchup zone three years ago.”

This offseason, Mooney has worked to put together a roster to account for the players he lost for the next season, such as  Jacob Gilyard, Golden, Nathan Cayo and Nick Sherod.

However, not only will UR get veterans Andre Gustavson and Matt Grace back next season, but the team’s leading scorer last season, Tyler Burton, decided to return for his senior year on June 1. And transfer players Neal Quinn, Isaiah Bigelow and Jason Roche will also look to ignite a fire in the 2022-2023 Spider lineup. 

Only time will tell if Mooney’s extension pays off for the Spiders or not, but after the postseason run that was made this season, the program has renewed faith in Mooney as their head coach, which was expressed in his contract extension. 

Contact sports writer Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu.

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