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Previewing Richmond: Anything but spiders why'd it have to be spiders?

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Richmond @ StatSheet
Richmond roster
Richmond schedule
Richmond 2014 stats / 2015 stats

Richmond Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 48.1 236
TO% 16.2 49
OR% 26.0 319
FT Rate
41.0 155

Since Chris Mooney took over at Richmond 10 years ago, the Spiders' offensive characteristics haven't changed much. Richmond prefers a game at a slower pace. Generally the Spiders attempt more three-pointers than your average club, and they also tend to take solid care of the ball while mostly ignoring offensive rebounds.

Last season was an unusually poor shooting year for the Spiders, who didn't compensate in any meaningful way for that shortcoming. Either there was no more emphasis on grabbing offensive boards, or the roster simply wasn't capable of performing better--in any case, it was the worst offensive rebounding team Mooney'd had since 2010. It was also Richmond's worst shooting team since 2005 (Mooney's first year there). Rough combo. The result was a slide in offensive efficiency from 59th in 2013 to 192nd in 2014.

There is one injury caveat worth noting: the team lost leading scorer Cedrick Lindsay to injury about two-thirds of the way through last season. Lindsay didn't post spectacular shooting numbers in part because of a large workload, but his absence cost the team a passable (33% career) three-point shooter. That left the Spiders with two reliable three-point options the rest of the way, which is not ideal for a perimeter-leaning offense.

The Spiders still had several other guys who proved they could handle above-average workloads with reasonable efficiency, and they're all back, which is reason enough to be optimistic about what the offense can do in 2015. They should be past the problems that came with adjusting to Lindsay's absence. Additionally, a program sometimes is fortunate enough to make an addition by subtraction--Richmond should benefit from the departure of guard Wayne Sparrow, who left for Maryland-Baltimore County during the offseason.

As a secondary option, Sparrow was just 11-of-55 from three-point range in 2014; this after shooting 17-of-59 (28.8%) in 2013. NEVER BE THAT GUY, KIDS. At UMBC, he's getting what he wanted, which is a major role in the starting rotation. His shooting numbers are grotesque (42.9 FT%, 36.4 2FG%, 27.8 3FG%). Imagine a guy with those numbers shouldering the same type of load that T.J. Warren handled last year, because that's the deal with Sparrow right now. [shudders]

Starters

Kendall Anthony (5-8, 150) --The Perils Of Shortness, chapter 3.5547 billion: Anthony is a career 42.2% shooter inside the arc. He has been a high workload player throughout his career, so he's taken a lot of twos. He's also taken a bunch of threes (547), but his fortunes are much better beyond the arc, where he's hit nearly 40% for his career. He is effective at drawing fouls and is an 80% free throw shooter but so be it: you want to send this kid into the maws of the monster (the monster being BeeJay Anya) rather than let him pop a jumper.

ShawnDre' Jones (5-10, 160) -- Already has 16 three-point attempts in three games. He's only made five of them, but last year he was a 38.2% shooter from outside. That's likely more representative of his true talent level. Excellent free throw shooter, decent distributor.

Trey Davis (6-5, 215) -- Davis has logged a lot of court time in his 2+ years at Richmond but has always been a second or third option at the offensive end with limited scoring range. He might take an occasional three-pointer--you know it'll be one of those where he catches it, and he makes eye contact with his man four feet in front of him, pump fakes,  then pump fakes again, and his man doesn't move, so he says why not and shoots it. I love it when that happens. Gets me every time.

Terry Allen (6-8, 240) -- Allen is just good enough from outside (33.8% for his career) to make it a concern, but the majority of his scoring will come inside the arc--last year he took 220 twos and 37 threes. The Spiders don't have a better interior scorer; they might consider feeding the big man more often.

Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (6-9, 235) -- Finished among the top 40 in block percentage in each of the last two years. Also a good defensive rebounder. His problem last year was scoring in the paint, and he also had the problem where he tries more threes than he should be trying. You're shooting 27.8% from three for your career, dude, why have taken 90 of them? Stop doing that. Just you stop it right now! So help me I will turn this bus around.

Bench

T.J. Cline (6-9, 235), Deion Taylor (6-7, 210), Josh Jones (6-4, 190), Khwan Fore (6-0, 175). There's scoring punch off the bench, and then there is T.J. Cline, who is averaging 31.5 points per 40 minutes through three games. Cline started his career at Niagara, where he shot 66.7% from two and 33.6% from three as a freshman. His Richmond career is off to an insane start, both in terms of his shooting accuracy and enormous workload, but for whatever reason his minutes have been limited to about 15 per game. He's making a pretty loud case for getting onto the floor a lot more often.

Richmond Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 45.8 36
TO% 20.0 62
OR% 34.3 298
FT Rate
40.3 170

Defensive rebounding has been an annual problem for Richmond. The Spiders' best defenses under Mooney have been able to overcome that weakness by creating turnovers at a high rate and defending well inside the arc. They were good enough in those areas to finish 48th in defensive efficiency.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by three.