2008-09 Richmond Basketball Preview: #70
Overall Rank: #70*
Conference Rank: #6 Atlantic 10
2007-08: 16-15, 9-7, 4th
2007-08 postseason: CBI
Everything was looking good for Richmond. The team had a winning record through a tough schedule and ended up in fourth place in the Atlantic 10 at the end of the 2007-2008 campaign. And with four starters returning the expectations were quickly growing. Then center Dan Geriot hurt his knee and will likely be out for the season. That will force the Spiders and Coach Chris Mooney to play smaller and faster. While the points will come without Geriot, the team will have to quickly adjust to not having the 6-9 big man under the basket.
The loss of Geriot, who led the team with 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds last year, is big no matter what, but also losing Gaston Moliva and Oumar Sylla to graduation makes the situation a little worse. Moliva was the shot blocking presence in the paint and Sylla could do some scoring inside and out. Without those three, the frontcourt will have major problems on the defensive end and struggle to find a leader.
The obvious need is finding some new faces in the frontcourt. Josh Duinker and Darrius Garrett should do. Duinker, who was on campus for part of last season and took a redshirt, has a nice shooting touch from outside, but it is the Australian’s 6-11, 220 pound frame that will push him into a pivotal role as a freshman. Garrett will bang in the paint a little more and should immediately help out on the glass and the defensive end…something the Spiders desperately need. Conor Smith and Francis Cedric Martel could slide inside if necessary as well. Smith will spend most of his time beyond the three-point line, but at 6-9 and 210 pounds, he certainly has the size to at least guard the opponent’s power forward. Liam Billings, Zak Estes and Mark McGonigal, who returns after missing all of last season with an injury, will add some depth on the perimeter.
Who to Watch:
It is in the backcourt where the Spiders have their experienced weapons. Point guard Kevin Anderson had a solid freshman campaign. His turnover numbers were a little high and probably will be again this year as Richmond pushes the ball up the floor more often, but Anderson can score effectively around the basket. Once his outside shot starts falling a little more consistently, the 6-0 point guard will be an extremely dangerous scorer. David Gonzalvez will take the big shots. He is the best long range shooter on the team and his ability to consistently knock down outside shots will help free up space for the inexperienced frontcourt. Ryan Butler and Kevin Smith will share minutes at the small forward spot. Butler is the better shooter of the two, but Smith can finish around the basket. More importantly, both are decent rebounders who will help out the frontcourt in that department.
The frontcourt might have a lot of questions, but it might have a couple answers in the form of Justin Harper and Jarhon Giddings. Harper, a 6-10 sophomore, averaged less than nine minutes per game last year. Yet, if the team’s off-season trip to Spain is any indication, he is ready to play a much, much bigger role this time around. Harper can score in a hurry, but can he be productive on the other end of the floor? Despite his size and strength, he is not a great rebounder or defender. If the Spiders do indeed want to run and gun most of the time, Harper will fit in nicely, but there will be plenty of moments when the team needs a rebounder and defender under the basket. And that man could be Giddings…if he can stay healthy. The 6-9 senior only averaged 10.7 minutes per game last year, but he is an experienced player who should be able to handle the increase in minutes. Even if Giddings eventually loses his starting job to Duinker, he will still have to play a vital role off the bench. This is a pretty young team without Geriot, but there is talent. As long as the team can effectively adjust to playing without their star, the Spiders will be in the mix for a postseason berth and make plenty of noise in the A-10.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Anderson, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 points per game
David Gonzalvez, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Kevin Smith, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 points per game
Justin Harper, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 points per game
Jarhon Giddings, Senior, Forward, 3.9 points per game
* - Ed: Richmond's ranking was set prior to Dan Geriot's injury. This would have lowered their position somewhat, but its hard to speculate how much.