5 reasons Richmond could make the 2017 NCAA Tournament

In what has to be one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written on A10talk, I have to explain how Richmond could actually make the NCAA Tournament this year.The Spiders lost one of their all-time greats in Terry Allen, but Chris Mooney has his best recruiting class in program history coming in. These guys are ready to make a change in the program immediately. This will be a new look Richmond team with a mix of young and old. If Chris Mooney can swallow his pride and change his system, the Spiders could dance.

 1. Freshmen

Chris Mooney has assembled the best recruiting class at Richmond. The Spiders boast local stars De’Monte Buckingham and Nick Sherod. They also added a skilled big man in Grant Golden who was born in Richmond. All three were highly sought after but elected to stay close to home. Most of the pressure lies on Golden’s shoulders as the Spiders will need a true center to help them defensively. All three freshmen will have to play significant minutes and will be pivotal to Richmond’s success.

 2.Graduate Transfers

The Spiders deviated from their normal path and took advantage of the grad-transfer rule. The first was FAMU guard Malcolm Bernard who averaged 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season. He will be competing for a starting role for Chris Mooney. Kwesi Abakah from Northeastern became the second. Abakah will be more of a role player for the Spiders.

3. Defensive Changes?

While scoring came in abundance, the Spiders defense ranked 11th in the A-10 and led to their downfall. Chris Mooney has mentioned that he is exploring other options defensively. Mooney fiddled with a zone last year but never fully committed. In order for the Spiders to dance, they will have to change up their defensive scheme. I’m not saying ditch the matchup zone forever, but add more tools to your kit. It will all depend on if Mooney can swallow his pride and change.

4. Double Trouble

TJ Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones are one of the most lethal duos in the A-10. They will be the unanimous leaders on this Richmond team. Both have expressed that their dream is to play in the NCAA Tournament; this being their last year, they have an uphill battle, but both are ready for the challenge.

5. OCC Schedule

The Spiders always boast a tough OOC schedule, and this year is no different. While not complete, the Spiders will be hosting Texas Tech and Wake Forest. The Spiders will have to defend home court if they want to dance. They will also be competing in the Barclays Center Classic where they will be playing Maryland. The Spiders have a chance to make a statement early, but can they do it?

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I only go to Richmond games for the free fries. Follow me on Twitter @sphamilton34
I would like to see the Spiders make the NCAA Tournament, but I think Richmond will be lucky if they can finish in the top half of the conference. I have doubts that they will be even as good as they were last year because if you are relying on freshmen your team is in trouble - hope I'm wrong!