Richmond unveils new court design at the Robins Center

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The University of Richmond announced a new court design several weeks ago, and each Friday had previewed the new design by uploading a section of the court to the athletic department’s Instagram account.

On Friday, the Spiders unveiled the new-look floor that will be read for the season. Nothing too extreme about the Spiders’ new court, but it is the first of many changes to the Robins Center, an arena that had stood for more than 30 years.

The Robins Center is in the middle of a $17 million renovation. Richmond takes to the renovated Robins Center on Nov. 8 against Delaware.

Report: Former Niagara forward T.J. Cline transferring to Richmond

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Two days after it was announced that two former Niagara teammates have found a new home, 6-7 forward T.J. Cline has as well. According to Evan Daniels of Cline will transfer to Richmond.

Cline, the son of basketball great Nancy Lieberman, averaged 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in his lone season at Niagara. The Plano, Texas native reached double figures in 14 of Niagara’s 33 games, proving to be an asset inside for a team that won the MAAC regular season title.

For his efforts Cline won MAAC Rookie of the Week honors three times this season and was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.

Cline will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2014-15 campaign, and that will help the Spiders as Derrick Williams enters his senior year.

Williams was Richmond’s most productive big man last season, posting averages of 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. In addition to Williams the Spiders welcome back forwards Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (3.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg) and Deion Taylor (3.6 ppg).

In 2013-14 Cline will be available to help the young Richmond big men in practices, with an eye towards being able to help account for the graduation of Williams when he becomes eligible the following season.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Four college hoops programs on the rise


Some friendly advice for team schedule makers: Avoid Georgia, Missouri, St. John’s and Richmond in the near future. Unless you don’t mind losing.

Those schools represent four college hoops programs on the rise. Missouri and Richmond are already enjoying resurgences, while Georgia and St. John’s – thanks to new coaches brining in better recruits – are on their way.

Craig Ruttle/AP

Looking back, we might be calling this the summer of St. John’s. When Steve Lavin was hired in May, some wondered if the former UCLA coach would still have his recruiting touch. Um, check. Lavin’s snagged commitments from four 4-star recruits this summer, including local product Maurice Harkless. That’s crucial for the Red Storm, who are usually ignored by NYC talent.

Big deal, right? Lavin hasn’t been on the sidelines since 2003, and coaching Xs and Os were never his strong suit. (Ask any UCLA fan.) That’s why Lavin hired veteran Mike Dunlap, a premier tactician, and ex-Purdue coach Gene Keady as an advisor. Lavin, 46, is older, wiser and destined to avoid the same mistakes he made as a young coach in Westwood.

There’s no such coaching doubt regarding Georgia‘s Mark Fox. He took Nevada to three NCAA tournament in his five-year stint, averaging almost 25 wins a season. Pundits wondered if he could do the same in the SEC. A 14-17 debut season surpassed all expectations. Wins against Tennessee, Illinois and Florida proved that.

Switching coasts didn’t hurt Fox’s recruiting, either. He secured a commitment from in-state star Kentavious Caldwell, a five-star shooting guard, who’ll be flanked by capable role players. Georgia’s biggest issue is their SEC division. Playing against Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vandy doesn’t allow for any missteps. (Improving the defense would be a big help.)

That’s called a quick turnaround. Chris Mooney did the slow build at Richmond.

After plodding along in the A-10, the Spiders progressed from 8 wins in 2006-07 to 26 last season, mostly because a series of solid recruiting classes jelled into a solid defense. (Having guard Kevin Anderson morph into one of the A-10’s finest players doesn’t hurt either.)

This season, Anderson’s a senior and Richmond’s expected to be an A-10 contender because of the pressing, frenetic defense. But more importantly are the additions of freshmen Cedrick Lindsay and Derrick Williams. They’re like the current Richmond players – solid players who can help the Spiders stay among the A-10’s best.

But perhaps the best rebuilding job goes to Mike Anderson at Missouri. The Tigers plummeted at the end of the Quin Snyder era, leaving Anderson to clean house and re-fashion the team in his preferred image – one that features a full-court defense and frustrated opponents.

The payoff? A trip to the Elite Eight in 2009 and a return trip to the Big Dance last season. That hadn’t happened in Columbia since 2003. (Another sign your program’s on the rise? Your coach is in demand.)

And, like any program seeking to maintain its momentum, Anderson’s done well with recruits. He stocked the roster with loads of three-star recruits, then scored big with his 2010 haul that featured speedy point guard Paul Pressey, rugged forward Ricardo Ratliffe (both four-star players) and five-star power forward Tony Mitchell.

Mitchell may not play because of eligibility issues, but his commitment marks an important step for Anderson’s program. He’s the first five-star guy in nearly a decade. Winning games and recruiting hauls? That’s a promising program.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.