Preview: vs. Richmond

By Steve DiMiceli

Duquesne will once again attempt to do something it has never done before when it takes on Richmond at the AJ Palumbo Center at the 3rd annual Chuck Cooper Classic. The Dukes come in the with an 0-14 record against the Spiders since they joined the league in 2001. Interestingly enough, the Dukes never lost to Richmond prior to them entering the A-10. When we talk about the Richmond - Duquesne series over the last few years, the first discussion point mentioned aside from the Dukes losing streak is generally the teams divergent styles of play. If we were to cast the two schools in a children's story, Duquesne would be the hare and Richmond, the winner. This season, neither team plays at the same pace they are accustomed with the Dukes slowing it down and Richmond speeding it up losing or gaining two possessions per game respectively. Richmond even managed to score over 100 against Fordham. Both teams are bad at rebounding, but neither turns it over often. The Spiders are very responsible with the ball and only 14% of their possessions end in turnovers ranking them 13th in the nation. On the other hand Duquesne forces, their opponent to turn it over 21% of the time 12th in division I.

Richmond are led by three young guards with a rotation of veteran but fairly ineffective forwards down low. Point guard Cedric Lindsay has taken steps forward this year and has become one of the Spider most valuable players. He does have a tendency to turn the ball over at times. However, there is little pattern to who he will turn it over against. He had 0 giveaways against UMass (9th in the nation in turnovers forced) but 5 against St Joe's (320th in the nation). Junior Darien Brothers leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points a game and he's hitting .425 from three. 5'8'' freshmen Kendall Anthony is often overlooked (get it) in discussion for A-10 rookie of the year but at 13.8 point a game in only 25 minutes, he is extremely dangerous. He takes a lot of shots when he's in the game. Derrick Williams is a 6'6'' truck down low and is probably the Spiders only real threat to score consistently from the post. A trio of seniors Darrius Garrett, Josh Dunkier, and Francis Cedric Martel round out the forwards but none averages more than 6 points a game. Garrett blocks at a very high rate, 3.5 per game. Richmond is 3-5 in conference play coming into tonight, with wins over Fordham and Rhode Island at the bottom of the league and a shocker over Temple. They've lost 2 in a row.

I think it's important for Duquesne to go right after the Spiders today on the dribble penetration. The Spiders don't defend the paint particularly well, but are very good at defending beyond the arc. That's not to say the Dukes should abandon the three, but I just think it makes sense to push the ball inside and create off the drive. Richmond does not concede many assists so the Dukes may have trouble passing the ball today. They'll need to be careful not to force plays. With Garrett in the game, the Dukes should be on the look out for easy put backs on shots he fails to swat. While this Richmond team is probably better built to comeback than in years prior, I think a solid first half and substantial lead would go a long way in helping to take the Spiders out of their comfort zone. I always say that when you get a slow team pressing, the game is already over.

We've played this game with Richmond before. It happened most recently in 2007-2008 when the Dukes were just beginning to make some noise in the A-10. They came off three wins in a row including a win at the UD arena the previous game. The Dukes were finally playing to their talent level and beginning to get some attention locally. Richmond was a young team without a very sexy RPI. Most thought it would be an easy win, but we ended up losing a difficult game to watch. In my memory, David Gonzalves hit ten 3 pointers from NBA range with 1 left on the shot clock to hold the Dukes off. The Dukes collapsed following that game losing 5 of their final 6 ruining what many thought could be an NIT season.  We've hit a Frostian fork in the road again as we play Richmond at home though less is probably at stake today. Still to take the road less traveled would help preserve the faint glimmer of hope we have for this team to finish strong and make a run at an A-10 bye or the non CBI post season.

 In Richmond's last 4 losses, they were beaten by an average of 13.5 points. If the Dukes allow this one to stay close, they are playing with fire. I'm actually going to take a little bit of risk on this one and predict the Dukes win by 15. I'm not saying that this one couldn't go either way nor am I saying the Dukes won't have to work very hard to win by that margin. I have a lot of respect for Coach Mooney and the Richmond program, but it's just that if you get the tortoise on it's back, it can't really do much of anything. The closer this one is, the better Richmond's chances are. I just think (and hope) the Dukes won't even let them in this one.