Spiders Take on the Explorers
The Richmond Spiders (14-4, 4-1 A-10) face off against the La Salle Explorers (10-7, 1-4 A-10) tomorrow night at the Robins Center. The Spiders are coming off 2 impressive road wins last week as they took down both Davidson & George Mason, without their leading scorer in Blake Francis. La Salle comes into this one on the cusp of a 3 game losing streak, but put up a good fight vs Rhode Island at the Ryan Center. This is a game that Richmond should come out on top, but they are going to need their role guys to step up.
Scoring Without Blake Francis
Richmond put some doubts to rest after their two victories last week. With Francis being out 4-6 weeks with a fractured sternum, there was a lot of speculation on how the team would finish in conference play without their leading scorer. I ran a poll on Twitter to see what people thought about the Spiders chances in finishing in the top 4. The poll finished with 430 votes, with 28.1% saying that Richmond would finish in the Top 4 of the A-10. 64.2% said that they would finish in the middle of the pack, and 7.7% thought that they would drop all the way to the bottom 4. This is leading to the point that this squad can score, and score in bunches due to their ball movement. Richmond scored 97 points on Saturday, their 2nd most of the season. They had multiple guys step up and fill whatever roll was needed. Tyler Burton is an incredible player who is only going to continue to grow for this squad, as well as Andre Gustavson. When these guys are on, Richmond will be tough to beat.
What to Watch For
The Explorers are led by guard Isiah Deas, who is averaging 12.4 ppg. Deas is the only Explorer who is averaging double digit points. Ed Croswell averages 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s not the most prolific scorer, but at 6’8″ 250 lbs, he can be a force at times down low, as he scored 14 points on a very tough Dayton squad. Saul Phiri is the only player on La Salle who averages 30+ minutes per contest at 30.0. Through 16 games, he is shooting 39.5% from beyond the arc, hitting 30 of 76 on the year. The senior has seen his percentage rise each year for the Explorers, and he could be someone that the Spiders need to keep an eye on.
Richmond is coming into this one hot, and will see if they can continue their hot shooting. In their victory over George Mason on Saturday, the Spiders shot 67%, their best since they defeated UMKC in 2008. Grant Golden was a force to be reckoned with down low, as he contributed 25 points in the Spider victory. Nick Sherod has really upped his game here lately, as well as Tyler Burton. The freshman is really showing his athleticism so far in his young career, and he will be important for Richmond down the stretch. As always, we need to look out for Jacob Gilyard, who is an absolute thief on the defensive side, as he leads the nation with 59 steals through 18 games.
This one has all the implications of being labeled a “trap game”, but I can see the Spiders rolling in this one. Chris Mooney will have his boys ready to play, and they will come into the Dayton game this Saturday with some serious confidence. My prediction is Richmond 84 – La Salle 70. The Spiders will be too much to handle for the Explorers, and Richmond will have a solid showing. As always, I will be there covering everything live, so be sure to follow along on Twitter at @AustinDaisey11 & @A10Talk. See you tomorrow night Spider Nation!
Featured image via Richmond Athletics on Twitter