Scouting Report/Preview: Richmond

Efficiency, that is the name of the game for Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders. Both the offense and defense are built around maximizing results. Richmond ranks fifth in the Atlantic 10 in defensive efficiency and second in offensive efficiency. It does seem clear that Mooney builds his team around offense with a solid to good defense behind the offense. The interesting feature of Mooney’s clubs at Richmond is that it excels and lack in the same categories on both sides of the ball.

Over the past three seasons the Spiders have generally been good at avoiding turnovers on offense while creating them on defense. Similarly, Richmond teams will shoot well and contest shots at the other end. The table below gives the national ranks in effective field goal percentage (eFG) and Turnover rate (TO%). Now compare these data to the other table. Notice a difference? Where Richmond has been good in the first two areas, it has struggled with rebounding and getting to as well as preventing opponents getting to the line. (Oreb=offensive rebounding rate; Dreb=defensive rebounding rate; FTR=free throw rate FTA/FGA).

Off. Off. Def. Def.
Year eFG TO% eFG TO%
2008-09 67 32 139 84
2009-10 76 18 15 55
2010-11 10 11 30 147
Off. Off. Def. Def.
Year Oreb FTR Dreb FTR
2008-09 295 248 289 292
2009-10 331 297 274 141
2010-11 302 308 237 37

Those numbers are remarkably consistent and should look familiar to Duquesne fans being that Ron Everhart’s teams follow a similar pattern. There is a big difference however. Richmond tends to play slower and Duquesne tends to play a faster pace. Mooney, having played for Pete Carrill at Princeton has adopted Carrill’s famed offense. Look at it this way, Mooney’s offense is like Duquesne’s offense but better.

The Dukes give more of a motion look as opposed to Richmond’s set offense. Nonetheless, both teams are dependent on the three point shot and strong back cuts to the basket. The Princeton offense can be effective but it is troublesome to me because, as is evidenced by the numbers, offensive rebounding is lost. The best teams are able to adjust and teams dependent on long jumpers that don’t crash the boards are susceptible to losses when shots are not falling. Then again, I’m a back to the basket forward type. Needless to say, I like rebounding.

Every Spider shoots the ball, including player of the year candidate 6’10” center Justin Harper. Harper can play on the low block, flash for mid-range jump shots, shoots 49 percent from three and makes over 80 percent of his free throws. Did I mention he is 6’10”. The Dukes will have difficulty guarding him because of his height. They do not have anyone that can contest any jumpers. Combine Harper’s game with 2009-10 A-10 player of the year Kevin Anderson, a strong slasher who makes 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. Anderson has the ability to take over games with his scoring prowess. Richmond is tough offense to stop, so it is best to hope that they miss since they are such poor rebounders.

The best advice for the Dukes would be to take advantage of Spider misses by pushing the ball down the floor on all rebounds. Getting quick strikes will allow Duquesne to stay with Richmond if its offense is hitting on all cylinders. Unfortunately for the Dukes, Richmond does not turn the ball over often, but if they can force the Spiders to cough up the ball they will have a chance to pull off the upset. Duquesne controls its own destiny regarding getting the four seed and a bye for the league tournament. Doing so would place this season amongst the best in the history of the program. Also, a win tomorrow would help ease the sting of some of the tough losses this season including last week’s affair at St. Louis. One fortunate factor may be that Richmond does not foul much, so the Dukes’ deficiency at the line may not be exploited. For Everhart’s club, it’s a long haul but a win in Virginia is not inconceivable.

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