DENVER, CO - MARCH 17: Kevin Anderson #14 of the Richmond Spiders is mobbed by his teammates after hitting a shot late in the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Today's opponent is the Richmond Spiders arrive in San Antonio by beating Vanderbilt and Morehead State. Kansas has gone through Boston and a decent Illinois squad. The whole world has all but handed the Jayhawks a Final Four bid, but as Kansas fans know you still have to play the game.
The Spiders as you've probably learned or already knew are from Richmond, Va. Enrollment at Richmond is 2,750, and the Spiders are coached by Chris Mooney, who is 112-86 in his sixth season at Richmond and 153-127 in his ninth season overall. Richmond finished third with a 13-3 record in the Atlantic 10 Conference behind Xavier (15-1) and Temple (14-2). The Spiders won the A-10 Tournament defeating Dayton to reach the NCAA tournament.
A bit of an oddity when looking at this matchup, the first being that this might be the only time minus a championship or Final Four opponent where I can remember the Jayhawks trailing in a series. This one sits at 1-0 with Richmond of course grabbing that one win in Allen Fieldhouse back in 2004.
|Rank and Records||RICH||KU|
|Strength of Schedule||#126||#18|
|RPI Top 50||4-3||10-2|
Richmond is a very experienced team returning 14 of its 16 players from last season's NCAA Tournament team. 6'10" senior forward Justin Harper is the leader on the interior and leads Richmond in both scoring (17.8), rebounding (6.9), three-pointers (75), blocked shots (46) and free throw percentage (79.3). This is a legit NBA talent and a player that provides a tremendous amount of versatility to the forward position. Sound familiar?
Senior guard Kevin Anderson is next in scoring at 16.7 points per game. He has a team-best 53 steals and 119 assists. His 71 three-pointers are second to Harper. Again, we've learned that Anderson is another player that figures to have a shot at the NBA and he holds the keys to the Richmond engine. If Anderson struggles, Richmond isn't at their best.
Senior center Dan Geroit averages 9.7 points per game and is third on the team with 100 assists.Geriot figures to be a factor in the three point game for Richmond. He's a catch and shoot threat from beyond the arc and Kansas will need to close out on him and avoid over committing in help defense because the Spiders can make you pay across the board.
Sophomore guard Darien Brothers (7.7 ppg) and senior forward Kevin Smith (3.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) round out the Richmond starters and if you're looking for a scary proposition every single one of these players shoots above 40% from beyond the arc as does the entire Spider roster as a whole.
Reserves for Richmond include junior guard Francis-Cedric Martel (4.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 18 starts), freshman guard Cedrick Lindsay (4.4 ppg) and junior center Darrius Garrett (1.9 ppg). That makes up your eight deep but don't expect Harper or Anderson to spend much time on the bench in this one as the two are 100% the key and critical to the Spiders going another round.
From a trending perspective the Spiders currently sit on a nine game winning streak dating back to February 17th when they lost to the Temple Owls. On the season the Spiders have a nice win over Purdue and more recently Vanderbilt but as a whole there aren't many wins over NCAA tournament teams. In fact the Spiders lost almost every regular season matchup against teams that would eventually enter the tournament including Bucknell, Xavier, Old Dominion and Temple. Of those Bucknell was the closest as the Spiders lost by just a one point margin.
Statistically speaking Richmond grades out better than just two of the remaining teams in the tournament in Butler and VCU. They're top 50 both offensively and defensively and where they really do well is in shooting the basketball and forcing opponents into bad shots.
On the offensive end the Spiders also do a great job of valuing the basketball as they don't turn it over often and teams don't force many steals. Probably the biggest concern for the Spiders would have to be the fact that they don't attack the offensive glass, they are a one shot team that relies on and has made quite a few of those shots. They also struggle to get to the foul line. Again that's a product of their style and the fact that they just aren't as physically attacking.
Defensively it's more of the same. Just like they don't turn it over, they don't force turnovers. They don't attack the glass on the offensive end and they allow opponents to do fairly well in getting to the glass when on defense. These are good things for Kansas. As much as the matchup zone and outside shooting looks scary, the fact that this team isn't good at creating turnovers(Jayhawk weakness) and they struggle to rebound(Jayhawk strength) seems to give a couple of favorable indicators as the game wears on.
No question it's a scary matchup. Richmond shoots well from outside and they play that matchup man/zone thing that seems to give us trouble at times. At the same time they aren't very good in areas that can really swing the momentum away from Kansas.
I expect this one will remain pretty competitive because Richmond is good offensively and it will take Kansas time to settle in against the Richmond defense. But at the end of the day Kansas has the Morri and Thomas Robinson attacking the offensive glass and lets not forget that Kansas at times has been an incredibly good team when it comes to moving the ball and being unselfish. The Jayhawks just have to avoid getting stuck in a rut where everyone is caught standing. Keep it moving, keep attacking and close out on defense and this is going to be a trip to the Elite Eight.