2011-12 Record: 6-2
Key games: Def. Rutgers 58-53; Def. William & Mary 92-61; Def. Wake Forest 70-62; Lost to Davidson 74-61; Lost to Illinois 70-61
2010-11 Record: 29-8 (13-3 Atlantic 10)
2010-11 RPI: 33
Heckle-worthy: Kendall Anthony, Fr., G (15.4 ppg, 44% 3FG); Cedrick Lindsay, Jr., G (11.5 ppg, 4.4 apg).
The skinny: The similarities between VCU and Richmond are quite interesting. Both are coming off exciting runs deep into the NCAA Tournament. Both teams’ coaches turned down overtures from BCS Conference schools to stay in Richmond. Both squads graduated three starters. Each will also rely heavily on a Benedictine graduate (Darien Brothers) this season.
Returning starters Brothers, a 6-3 sharpshooting guard, and Francis-Cedric Martel, a 6-6 forward (4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) will try to offset the loss of seniors Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper and Dan Geriot, who accounted for 63 percent of the Spiders’ scoring in 2010-11.
VCU fans hope the Rams remember every agonizing second of a 72-60 loss to the Spiders last season. Despite the 12-point final margin, anybody who watched the game knows it wasn’t even remotely that close.
Like VCU, the Spiders are led by strong guard play. Anthony is 5-feet-8, 140-pounds of instant offense. The Tennessee native recently dropped 21 points on Wake Forest and is shooting 44 percent (16-of-36) from 3-point range. Brothers and Lindsay are also dangerous. Sophomore Derrick Williams (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) leads the frontcourt.
Richmond’s matchup zone gave the Rams fits last season, and the Spiders look effective on defense again this year. Opponents are shooting 37 percent from the field, including 28 percent from three. UR is not a particularly good rebounding team (-3.5 margin), but the Spiders are sound with the ball (11.5 TO/pg).
About Richmond: The school opened a “disc golf” (read: Frisbee golf) course earlier this year, “to promote leisurely activity”. This is similar to my decision to open a horseshoe pit in the back yard and call it “equestrian studies”.
Fast fact: Harper, who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 32nd overall pick in the NBA Draft in June (later traded to the Orlando Magic), ranked second in the A-14 last year in 3-point shooting (.448) – as a 6-10 forward.