1. How does Khwan Fore’s injury affect the Spiders early on?
Richmond’s Khwan Fore will be forced to miss time due to an injury in his left tibia. He should be back within a month or so, but that means UR is without its returning leading scorer for some important non-conference games. Notably, Richmond will take on Georgetown and Vermont at home, two games in which Kenpom has the Spiders as very slight favorites. Should Fore miss those contests, those two opportunities could end up as losses.
Either way, Khwan Fore will be gone for a portion of UR’s non-conference schedule, and other guys will have to step up. Look for freshman Jacob Gilyard to start in Richmond’s backcourt. Gilyard averaged more than 33 points as a senior in high school, and I think he’s a big time sleeper heading into the 2017-18 season. As always, De’Monte Buckingham will be called upon to do more. Expect Nick Sherod and Julius Johnson to have very vital roles in the first month of the season and even after Fore reenters the starting lineup.
2. Is Grant Golden due for a big season?
Last season, Grant Golden had a scary moment, collapsing on the floor against Texas Tech. This year, he has a chance to be Richmond’s go-to player in the post without T.J. Cline’s presence. As a freshman, Golden averaged 10.6 rebounds per 40 minutes despite limited playing time.
When he’s on the floor, he’s incredibly efficient at grabbing boards, especially on the defensive end. Golden has 4 more seasons with the Spiders after getting a medical redshirt. How effective can he be down low on a guard-oriented team? There’s a chance that the Spiders play 4 guards with their anchor in the center; Golden’s production is going to be a big indicator as to how Richmond’s season ends up.
3. Can Richmond’s freshmen step up?
Richmond has a core of freshmen that should earn significant playing time. I’ve already mentioned Jacob Gilyard; Nathan Cayo’s a guy that can really crash the glass and should help the Spiders on the boards. Verbinskis, Schneider, and Ford all could be impact players as well. The real task for UR will be integrating these freshmen into the system and building chemistry. With very few seniors on the roster, this is a rebuilding season for Chris Mooney, and it’s going to be up to the Class of 2021 to get this Spiders team dancing once more.