The basketball season continues at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons look to improve to 8-2 with a win over the Richmond Spiders. Richmond, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, is 7-2 on the season and are led by head coach Chris Mooney. Mooney is in his 9th season with the Spiders and is returning 3 of his top 4 scorers from last season.
Richmond is coming off a 71-60 win against rival William and Mary. The Spiders are averaging 70.6 points per game and have an above average offensive efficiency rating of 105.9. A large part of Richmond's offensive success is due to their ability to protect the basketball, with one of the lowest turnover rates in the country at 15.7%. The Spiders rely heavily senior guard Cedrick Lindsay, who plays 82.1% of the minutes and scores the rock more than Rob Ford during a late night stroll through Toronto (18.2 points per game). Lindsay is also one of the best in the country at setting up his teammates, boasting an assist rate of 32.6 (59th). The Spiders also depend on 5'8 guard Kendall Anthony, who is responsible for 29.7% of the attempts and connects on 36.8% of his shots from deep but is still not allowed to ride the Power Tower without being accompanied by an adult. Richmond runs a relatively balanced offensive and has been able to get to the free throw line on 46.3% of their field goal attempts. Wake will need to stay disciplined if they want to avoid falling into foul trouble.
Saying Richmond is "a good defensive team" is like saying Bojangles makes decent biscuits, which is of course a huge understatement. The Spiders play a man defense that has held opponents to just 0.95 points per possession (61st). Coach Mooney's squad limits effective field goals to 43.3% which is among the best in the country (24th), and opponents success from behind the arc has been virtually non-existent (25.6%) which doesn't bode well for Coron Williams. Richmond has also been able to force turnovers at an absurd rate (21.8% of possessions), and if Wake doesn't take better care of the ball they could find themselves in serious trouble. Forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa patrols the paint for the Spiders and has an uncanny ability to block shots, doing it on 9.7% of possessions. Richmond doesn't have many weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball, but opponents have been able to get to the line on 51.4% of their field goal attempts.
The Spiders provide an interesting match up for the Deacs, and if Wake doesn't come ready to play they could be handed their first home loss of the season. One of Wakes pivotal strengths is their ability to rebound the ball on the offensive end of the court, in which they've done on 34.7% of their possessions. Richmond, on the other hand, limits their opponents offensive rebounds to just 29.7%. This may not seem like a staggering difference but in a close battle the team that is able to generate a few more possessions will have a better shot at walking away with a win. I mentioned Richmond's ability to generate turnovers and I think this could be a huge factor in the game. Wake has been one of the best teams in the country at protecting the ball but they are coming off their highest turnover performance of the season (14).
This match up should be a dog fight in which the game-within-the-game will be the battle to control the tempo. Richmond, at 66.7 (267th), plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country and their average possession is 18.1 seconds (231st). Conversely, Wake Forest favors a much faster tempo of 70.0 (107th) with an average possession of just 16.4 seconds (81st). A large portion of Wakes success this season has to be attributed to the high tempo that is furthered by their ability to get out in transition. Wake doesn't generate a lot of steals (7.5%) so they depend on defensive rebounds and huge blocks (#ForgotAboutDre) from Andre Washington that often lead to quick finishes on the other end of the court. I think Wake will be able to do this just enough to pull out a victory.
Wake Forest 71