Chris Mooney

VIDEO: No. 1 seed Dayton advances to Atlantic 10 semifinals

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Friday’s quarterfinal round at the Atlantic 10 tournament marks the debut of the top four seeds in the event, beginning with top seed Dayton. Archie Miller’s Flyers took care of business against No. 9 seed Richmond, beating the Spiders 69-54 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.

Charles Cooke III led three double-digit scorers with 14 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, and Kyle Davis added 11 points and Dyshawn Pierre ten along with a game-high 14 rebounds. But the key in the win for Dayton was their defense. The Flyers limited the Spiders to 31.8 percent shooting from the field overall and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. T.J. Cline led all scorers with 25 points, but no other Richmond player scored in double figures.

Players other than Cline combined to shoot 10-for-40 from the field, with guard ShawnDre’ Jones making just one of his 11 field goal attempts.

Next up for Dayton is No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s, which came back to eliminate No. 5 seed George Washington in the second quarterfinal of the day.

VIDEO: Cline, No. 9 Richmond advance to Atlantic 10 quarterfinals

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While the Atlantic 10 tournament does have some teams looking to improve their standing for the upcoming NCAA tournament, there are other programs looking to make sure they wind up playing in any postseason tournament. One of those team was No. 9 seed Richmond, which entered Thursday’s quarterfinal against No. 8 seed Fordham with an overall record of 15-15 and in need of wins in Brooklyn.

Chris Mooney’s Spiders took that first step, beating the Rams 70-55 behind a balanced offensive effort led by forward T.J. Cline and guard ShawnDre’ Jones.

Cline and Jones scored 17 points apiece for Richmond, which finished the game with four double-digit scorers. Cline, who shot 8-for-15 from the field, also accounted for nine rebounds and three assists. Fellow forward Terry Allen scored ten points and grabbed nine rebounds, with guard Khwan Fore adding ten points of his own along with five rebounds and three assists.

The difference in the game was turnovers, more specifically what the Spiders were able to do with Fordham’s mistakes. Jeff Neubauer’s Rams committed 14 turnovers, which Richmond converted into 21 points on the other end. Richmond was also able to slow down the Atlantic 10’s best freshman in Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny. Chartouny scored a team-high 19 points, but he did so on 6-for-19 shooting from the field.

Next up for Richmond is No. 1 seed Dayton in Friday’s quarterfinals in a game that can be seen on NBCSN with coverage beginning at Noon eastern.

Richmond lands its second 2016 commitment of the week

Chris Mooney - UR
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For most programs the days following the final evaluation period of the summer is a time for coming to a decision in regards to offering (or not offering) targets on their respective boards. In the case of Richmond, Chris Mooney’s program has finalized two recruitments within a three-day span.

Two days after landing three-star shooting guard De’Monte Buckingham, the Spiders received another commitment in the form of 6-foot-3 guard Nick Sherod. Sherod, who played with the Team Loaded Virginia team that won the Gold Division of the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas last week, is a 6-foot-3 guard who shot better than 44 percent from beyond the arc.

Also on that Team Loaded Virginia roster were 2016 prospects Sacha Killeya-Jones, Javin DeLaurier and Justice Kithcart.

Sherod is a native of Richmond who attends St. Christopher’s School, where he became the school’s all-time leading scorer this past season. Sherod averaged 25 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season, and he was a first team all-state selection.

While Richmond doesn’t have a scholarship senior in its backcourt heading into the 2015-16 season, it does have two juniors in ShawnDre Jones and Josh Jones. With the additions of Buckingham and Sherod to go along with their three freshmen, the Spiders have the bodies needed to boost their perimeter depth moving forward.

Briante Weber suffers season-ending knee injury in No. 14 VCU’s loss to Richmond

Briante Weber, Shaka Smart
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No. 14 VCU entered Saturday’s home game against city rival Richmond with a 7-0 conference record, and the perimeter tandem of seniors Briante Weber and Treveon Graham has done a very good job of leading the way. Things didn’t go as planned for the Rams however, as Richmond pulled off the 64-55 upset with point guard Kendall Anthony leading the way with 22 points and six assists.

While the outcome is important the biggest concern moving forward for VCU is how they account for the loss of senior point guard Briante Weber, who tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee. The school announced the news Saturday night.

Weber left the game with 3:18 remaining after injuring his right knee on a jump stop on the lane, and he eventually returned to the bench on crutches. His activity as a defender in both the full and half court is what makes the VCU defense so difficult for many opponents to crack. Given the impact Weber has on both ends of the floor, this is a huge loss for the Rams.

A key reason why Richmond won was the way in which they navigated the VCU defense, as they committed just 12 turnovers on the day. In five of VCU’s seven conference wins their opponent committed 16 turnovers or more, with Davidson (15) and Saint Louis (14) being the exceptions. But turnovers against VCU aren’t just about the number committed; there’s also the matter of distinguishing between dead and live-ball turnovers.

Richmond was able to keep the live-ball turnovers down to a minimum, making a team that entered the game ranked tenth in the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage do the majority of their work in the half court. VCU scored just four fast-break points and ten points off of Richmond turnovers, and those are areas that can help a team make up for poor shooting.

VCU shot 40.7% from the field, 3-for-20 from beyond the arc and were outscored by 12 points (20-8) from the foul line by the Spiders, who picked up their first road win over a ranked opponent in 11 years. Treveon Graham scored 18 points to lead the way, with 13 coming in the second half, but Melvin Johnson shot just 2-for-7 from the field in the final 20 minutes.

Finding quality looks in the half court, and making them, was an issue for VCU against Richmond and that’s been the case in many contests. But a team that has been so good at creating open-court chances was unable to do so Saturday afternoon, and for that Chris Mooney’s deserves credit. And in Kendall Anthony, he has a point guard who is one of the best in the Atlantic 10.

Like his teammates, Anthony struggled in the first half, as he scored just two points on 1-for-6 shooting and did not attempt a single free throw. That wasn’t the case in the second stanza, as Anthony attempted 11 free throws (making nine) and did a solid job of leading the Spiders through VCU’s “HAVOC” defense. Richmond’s 43.5% shooting from the field wouldn’t set any records, but they fact that they were able to get 22 free throws (making 18) made a huge difference in the second half.

The result itself isn’t cause for panic for VCU, as they’re still up by a game in the loss column in the Atlantic 10 standings. But the loss of Weber, a player who runs the show on both ends of the floor, will have a major impact on what the Rams are able to achieve this season.

Richmond loses reserve guard to left foot injury

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As expected before the season began Richmond has relied on starters ShawnDre’ Jones and Kendall Anthony to carry most of the load on the perimeter, with Jones dishing out four assists per game and Anthony being the team’s leading scorer. But on occasion those two need some time to recuperate, and earlier this week head coach Chris Mooney saw one of those supplementary options suffer an injury that will keep him off the floor for the time being.

Freshman Khwan Fore, who is averaging just 7.5 minutes per game, suffered a broken bone in his left foot according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Fore, who played ten minutes in the Spiders’ 80-56 win over High Point on November 22, missed the team’s loss at NC State Wednesday night and how many games he’ll miss has yet to be determined.

Per the report, Fore’s injury will require surgery.

Sophomore Josh Jones, who’s averaging 2.5 points in just over ten minutes of action per game, is one player who could absorb some of the minutes left available in the aftermath of Fore’s injury.

Richmond looks to use last season’s experiences as a catapult into 2014-15

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Last season six Atlantic 10 teams managed to earn an NCAA tournament bid, with four of those teams (Dayton, George Washington, UMass and Saint Joseph’s) doing so after missing out on the Big Dance the season prior. One question for the Atlantic 10 entering the 2014-15 campaign is if there’s a team capable of making a similar jump, with the Richmond Spiders hoping that will indeed be the case.

Richmond finished the season with a 19-14 record, going 8-8 in conference play. But what some may forget about that team is that Chris Mooney’s Spiders were part of the bubble conversation until their loss at VCU on February 1, with leading scorer Cedrick Lindsay going down with a season-ending injury. Lindsay was averaging 18.3 points and 4.0 assists per game at the time of his injury, and without him even more was asked of fellow guard Kendall Anthony (15.9 ppg) on the offensive end.

Richmond went 5-6 over their last 11 games, which included a four-game losing streak to end the regular season. The Spiders’ loss to city rival VCU in the Atlantic 10 tournament would prove to be their final game of the season, as they weren’t chosen to participate in the Postseason NIT.

If there was anything positive to have come out of that season-ending stretch, it’s that every player in the rotation is back on campus for another run at the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2011. Anthony will lead the way, with an experienced junior class that includes forwards Terry Allen (10.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (6.2, 5.4, 2.9 bpg) also expected to factor into the equation.

“It has helped that everyone who played in the last 10-12 games last year will be the guys who play this year,” Mooney said Friday. “I think that gave our guys really good experience. It’s one thing to be on a college basketball team and play a little bit, but when you’re thrust into a more important role, those experiences help to make you a better player.”

The Atlantic 10 will once again be competitive, with VCU seen by many as the early favorite and programs such as Dayton, UMass and George Washington seen as contenders as well. But don’t overlook Richmond either, as in the aftermath of their losing a player the caliber of Cedrick Lindsay others had to adjust almost immediately.

With an offseason to not only learn from those games but also improve individually and collectively, Richmond could very well find itself in the Atlantic 10 mix this winter.