Mooney: “We’re going to start five juniors”

Richmond’s Chris Mooney announced at the A-10 Media Day today at the Barclays Center that his squad will feature five junior starters.  This indicates a starting lineup of Jacob Gilyard, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo and Grant Golden.

The main question most fans have had is whether sophomore Jake Wojcik would return to the starting lineup this year.  While Gilyard was selected to the Preseason A-10 All-Defensive team, a backcourt of him and Blake Francis, standing at 6′ 0″, would be glaringly undersized.  Wojcik’s 6′ 4″ frame helped him effectively defend opposing backcourts with his fellow lengthy combo guard Andre Gustavson.

However, Francis led Wagner in scoring and shot 40 3FG% his sophomore season.  “Blake continues to prove daily how hard he is to guard,” one team source said.  The Spiders are clearly confident that Francis’s relentless scoring ability outweighs a lack of size, and it’s a risk they’re more able to take this season with the flexibility their depth provides.

Wojcik started all 33 games, playing 30 minutes as Richmond’s primary wing and off-ball perimeter threat.  Gustavson started 19 games playing 22 minutes and was essentially the full time starter by the final stretch of out-of-conference play last year. Their defensive versatility at 6′ 4″ allows either to be plugged in easily to support five starters who are all capable scorers.

Likely the main reason Mooney is choosing to bring these two off the bench those is because of their offensive roles.  Gustavson runs the Princeton offense well as a reliable passer who can read high ball screens effectively.  This provides a serviceable playmaking backup to Gilyard, who played 37 minutes per game, usually having to remain on the court with a reserve unit featuring primarily floor spacers.

Wojcik was the Spiders’ primary off-ball perimeter shooter last year, knocking down a 36 3FG%.  Combine those two with 6′ 9″ sophomore Sal Koureissi and the 6′ 7″ freshman wing Tyler Burton and you have a balanced four-man bench.



Freelance journalist covering Richmond Men's Basketball for ESPN Richmond. I host my own web series called Know Your Spiders (check it out on YouTube...