Wake Forest takes on the Richmond Spiders at 4 PM on Saturday in Winston-Salem. We will have a more basic preview out on Saturday morning, but I wanted to take a look at Richmond as a whole first.
The Spiders currently are 1-6 on the season and have faced the 101st toughest schedule in the country. A few of the losses (Cincinnati, Georgetown, and Vermont) are understandable, but much like Wake Forest, Richmond started out 0-2 with two head-scratching losses to Delaware and Jacksonville State, both at the Robins Center.
Richmond is led by Chris Mooney, who is in his 13th season at the helm, compiling a record of 226-181 (55%), including two NCAA Tournaments in 2010 and 2011. I have seen some reports of the natives getting restless, so it will be interesting to see what happens if this year continues on a nosedive.
Some of the rough start can be chalked up to youth, as the Spiders start two freshmen, a sophomore, and two juniors. 5-9 Jacob Gilyard is running the offense for Richmond as a freshman and has done a reasonable job thus far in command, playing 89% of the minutes (nearly 30 MPG). The Spiders are the 15th youngest team in the nation so far according to KenPom.
Overall the Spiders are equally good (bad?) on offense and defense, as it ranks 189th in offensive efficiency and 194th in defensive efficiency.
It ranks 213th in tempo, and historically Mooney likes to play a slower brand of basketball, although he has picked it up a bit in the past 3 seasons. In a lot of ways this team resembles, statistically, the teams in the past, but the defense just isn’t where it needs to be to succeed, especially the interior defense.
On offense the Spiders really struggle at rebounding the basketball, grabbing just 21% of its misses, ranking 325th in the country (out of 351 teams). Additionally, it does not get to the line very much, ranking 292nd in that category.
When a team is that bad in two of the four major factors then it better be good at the other two, but the Spiders can not say that either, ranking 209th in eFG%, and 177th in turnover percentage (protecting the ball).
Right now the Spiders just aren’t a very good team on offense. That doesn’t mean they are devoid of guys who can light it up, as sophomore De’Monte Buckingham demonstrated in last Saturday’s 82-76 loss to Georgetown. The Richmond native went for 28 points on 12 shots, including 9-11 from the free throw line. He also chipped in 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the losing effort.
Buckingham, along with freshman Grant Golden, a 6-10 big man, have been the most reliable scorers on the season for the Spiders. Golden has already gone for 20+ points three times this season, including 24 point, 10 rebound effort against Georgetown.
The Spiders are shooting just 29% from behind the three-point line, but have three guys shooting over 35% in Buckingham, Gilyard, and Golden. Since Golden is another big who likes to shoot the occasional 3-pointer I see absolutely no reason why Wake Forest would not go straight to the 2-3 matchup zone that it was playing against Illinois.
Much like the Illini, Richmond sets up perfectly for the zone defense. It is bad at three-pointers, doesn’t rebound well, and likes to shoot 2-pointers. The zone should be very effective against this type of offense.
On the defensive side of things the Spiders are a bit of an enigma. It ranks 44th in turnover percentage, primarily relying on Gilyard and junior Solly Stansbury to force turnovers out of the opposition, but the same cannot be said about stopping the opponent from shooting a high percentage, where Richmond is allowing nearly a 59% eFG% (for reference, Wake Forest is allowing a 53% eFG%), ranking 21st worst nationally.
While Wake tends to struggle primarily on allowing the three-ball to go in, Richmond is horrible at defending the two-point basket, which is likely a going to be a nightmare for the team going up against Doral Moore on Saturday, who is shooting nearly 85% from the floor on the season.
Two-point defense is usually a better indicator correlation-wise of how good a defense is overall, so I don’t know what to expect on Saturday, but from a statistical viewpoint it does not look good for the Spiders.
In addition to being bad at stopping twos from falling, Richmond also sends its opponents to the free throw line a lot, ranking 314th in the nation there. Once again, this is a strong point for Wake, getting to the line 40th most in the nation.
KenPom has Wake Forest as a ten point favorite, 79-69, as Richmond is 190th in KenPom (for reference Illinois was 101st and UNC-G was 134th headed into the Wake Forest game).
While there have been several good Richmond teams in the past, this year appears to be a bit of a rebuilding year and I think Wake has this game at a good time to pick up another victory.