I’m looking ahead and realizing that tomorrow’s game against Richmond has become rather vital. A loss to the Spiders results in a trip back to the Gem City, to face VCU, with a 1-2 conference mark. A defeat against the Rams means the Flyers are 1-3, firmly behind the eight ball. We don’t talk about “must-wins” here, because damn near every game for a mid-major is a must-win, but the Flyers certainly don’t want to do any worse than split their next two games.
First up, the Flyers head to the Robins Center, an arena that has crushed many of our hopes an dreams in the past.
Returning three starters from last season, Chris Mooney’s squad is currently carrying a 11-6 record, tied with UD in the middle of the pack with a 1-1 league mark. The Spiders lost on the road against Saint Bonaventure and beat Fordham in overtime at Rose Hill. UR has played some decent competition already, Florida, Minnesota and UNC highlighted their out-of-conference slate, however they haven’t earned a noteworthy victory as of yet — their best win was an early season victory over Belmont.
Richmond goes about eight deep and doesn’t have the size to battle down low. Mooney’s club does play solid defense, holding opponents to 39.9% shooting from the floor and 65.5 points per game. The Spiders are reminiscent of many college programs nowadays — athletes who can play defense but can’t seem to shoot straight. Gone are the days of perimeter shooters like Kevin Anderson, David Gonzalvez and Darien Brothers. The Spiders are shooting just 30.7% from behind the arc, 63.8% from behind the stripe. Seriously, look at UR’s numbers and tell me Brian Gregory didn’t recruit this team.
Meet and Greet
The Spider backcourt, arguably the best in the league, is led by Kendall Anthony (13.1/1.5 apg) and Cedric Lindsay (19.2 ppg/4.3 apg). Lindsay, finally a senior, is combo-guard who has improved upon his somewhat disappointing junior campaign. He is leading the team in scoring and is the teams’ best player with the ball in his hands. Lindsay is like a welterweight fighter, he will go the distance unless he gets hurt. Anthony is an adorable guard, standing at just “five-foot-eight,” a threat from downtown — he’s made 27 three’s over the past 9 games — and an absolute nightmare on the defensive end.
Richmond’s piecemeal frontcourt is led by the rotund Derrick Williams (6.2 ppg/3.5 rpg). Like most fat people, Williams can become lethargic and ornery at times. However, when he is dialed in Williams can be a solid contributor. The big guy is a decent spot-up shooter and has the ability to find the open man. Trey Davis (4.8 ppg/6.1 rpg) and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (7.1 ppg/5.5 rpg) will start alongside Williams against the Flyers. Mooney describes Davis as an “in-between player” and I’m not quite sure what that means. Nelson-Ododa is active around the rim and a solid shot-blocker.
Terry “Turry” Allen (9.2 ppg/5.5 rpg), Deion Taylor (3.7 ppg/2.9 rpg) and Wayne Sparrow (3.8 ppg/2.2 rpg) form the Spider bench. Allen, who basically gets starter minutes, is the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. Sparrow and Taylor are “glue-guys” off the bench, define that as you will.
I had this one penciled in as a loss before the season tipped off and I’m going to stand by it. The Flyers have under-performed mightily at Richmond (Richmond has won 4 of the last 5, 5 of the last 8 and 7 of the last 10 against Dayton) and tomorrow will be no different. Richmond is 10-2 in their A10 home openers — and the school is opening the New Robins Center to boot. The odds are clearly in UR’s favor. Spiders win, 72-66.