Coach Smart and Coach Mooney are worthy adversaries in a rivalry elevated by the shared experience of Atlantic 10 membership.
- What: VCU (17-4, 5-1) vs. Richmond (14-7, 4-2)
- Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
- When: Saturday, February 1st at 11:00 AM
- Watch: ESPN2 (Comcast 5, 851HD; Verizon 74, 574HD)
- Listen: Rams Radio
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VCU Coach Shaka Smart and Richmond Coach Chris Mooney have only been conference foes for one complete season, but the Rams’ first chapter in the Atlantic 10 was filled with plenty of memories that have elevated the VCU-Richmond crosstown rivalry. Saturday morning, chapter two of their Atlantic 10 story begins in the Stuart C. Siegel Center as the Spiders try to win their first game on Broad Street since February 2001.
Richmond’s two young, well-respected coaches built memories before last season which reached a fever pitch in 2011 with Richmond winning the A-10 Tournament en route to the Sweet 16 and VCU going from the First Four to the Final Four, but nothing compares to being in the same conference as a rival.
There are advantages to being in the same league: two to three opportunities to play each year (including a guaranteed rematch), shared experiences, a battle for conference standings, and the opportunity to share the weekend in Brooklyn, NY.
Richmond punked VCU last season by overcoming a seven point deficit in 37 seconds en route to an 86-74 overtime victory. One month later, VCU got revenge, and suddenly, the Old Dominion rivalry seemed like old news. Great rivalries have three main ingredients: successful programs, shared experiences, and mutual respect. After that loss, Coach Mooney set the tone for what will hopefully continue to be a rivalry of intense battles, even more intense environments, and mutual-respect.
“It’s great, this is college basketball. We played one at our place on a Thursday night, this was a Wednesday night. There couldn’t have been two better atmospheres that we’ve played in. The crowd is into it. There’s more talk about it.”Coach Mooney
Shared experiences build rivalries. From January on, the Rams and Spiders play the same teams. They visit the same towns. They struggle at times against the same St. Louis defense, get screamed at by the same Saint Bonaventure student section, and get caught in the same Northeast snowstorms.
Richmond fans watched in terror with VCU fans in the row next to them as Coach Mooney got ejected from a game in Brooklyn. Then those fans went to the same bars after the game. These are the experiences that bring us all together while we posture and act like there is a wedge driving us apart.
“From a fan standpoint, a city of Richmond standpoint, I hope we play again in Brooklyn.”Coach Mooney on 3/6/13
In 2011-12, Coach Mooney started a rebuild after losing guys like Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper while Coach Smart reloaded and won a VCU-record 29 games. Now Coach Mooney has his best team in several years which means Richmond and VCU are real competitors for the same four Brooklyn double-byes. More importantly, the better both teams are, the better their chances of getting to play in Brooklyn. Imagine if Mooney had been ejected with the VCU Peppas court side.
VCU currently holds the imaginary RVA trophy thanks to their on-court revenge last season, but they aren’t without motivation because this rivalry went culinary over the summer. It’s not like either of these teams need any extra motivation, but Coach Mooney beat Coach Smart in the Positive Vibe Coaches’ Cook-off. Maybe a guy like Briante Weber is conscious of it or maybe he isn’t, but deep down it’s another paragraph in the first of hopefully many chapters between two teams whose rivalry has been enhanced by the shared experience of being conference foes.
Much of the personnel is the same as last year, Coach Mooney still uses the Princeton offense, and the Spiders will do some interesting things on defense including using a matchup-zone, but Richmond is a much different team than last year. The 2012-13 Spiders relied on balanced and effective 3-point shooting to outscore their opponents while this year’s squad has used defense to make up for their lack of outside scoring.
The Spiders have found more success with their defense-first approach. They have wins over #13 Massachusetts, Dayton, and Saint Joseph’s and their losses are understandable. At 4-2, they are the favorite to finished 5th in the brutally deep Atlantic 10.
Their offense starts and ends with the guards. They ranked 28th in 3-point percentage and had six guys shoot .341 or better from range last season. This season they rank 283rd, and Kendall Anthony leads the the team at .376. They’ve made up for it thanks to the emergence of several sophomore forwards and the driving abilities of Cedrick Lindsay and Kendall Anthony.
Richmond didn’t struggle with VCU’s press last season. Coach Smart even considered calling off the press in the second matchup as Richmond’s triumvirate of guards capitalized on the Rams’ extended defense. UR was the better team for 36 minutes against pressing Florida, and they looked solid against Massachusetts’ pressure. VCU will probably be forced to win in different ways come Saturday.
The Spiders rank 36th in adjusted defensive efficiency thanks to strong perimeter defense and the shot blocking ability of sophomore Alonzo Nelson-Ododa. They aren’t great defensive rebounders and they foul plenty, but they rank 10th in defensive 3-point percentage and 86 in blocked shots. This team isn’t quite like any Chris Mooney team VCU has ever faced.
The Star: #2 Cedrick Lindsay*
18.1 PPG (90-193 2PFG, 23-70 3PFG), 4.2 APG, 2.1 TOPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.9 SPG
Lindsay is one of the best point guards in the Atlantic 10, and he may be the best point guard in the country who wears long sleeves. He is an exceptional scorer, and he is good at getting other players involved. Lindsay was successful at breaking the press last season and he’s elevated his game during his senior campaign. His battle with Briante Weber should be fascinating.
#0 Kendall Anthony* (G, Junior) • Anthony is a scoring machine. He scored 26 points including 21 points after intermission in Richmond’s win last season and 11 points in the loss. Shutting him down is priority #1.
#5 Trey Davis* (G, Sophomore) • In about a year, Trey Davis has gone from afterthought to starter. At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds he gives the Spiders size on the perimeter, and he could be effective slowing down Treveon Graham and Jordan Burgess.
#34 Derrick Williams* (F, Senior) • Williams was expected to be one of the main guys this year, but he has mostly been a role player. A 6-foot-6 forward, a matchup with Mo Alie-Cox would be 530 pounds of pure post battling. Please let it happen.
#33 Alonzo Nelson-Ododa* (F, Sophomore) • Multidimensional big men are key in the Princeton offense, and Nelson-Ododa gives Mooney his best forward weapon since Justin Harper. He can shoot and pass, but his defense is what’s scary. He has 112 blocks which is good for #8 all-time at Richmond. He’s done it in 55 games while everyone above him has done it in more than 101 games.
#15 Terry Allen (F, Sophomore) • Terry Allen is piece number two of Richmond’s three talented sophomore forwards. His efficiency has decreased since last season, but he’s been effective at grabbing rebounds and waiting for his moments. He’s capable of scoring 18 points on any given night.
#11 Deion Taylor (F, Sophomore) • Fear the flat-top. Taylor had a great freshman campaign but he struggled on offense starting this season. He’s 6-foot-7 and can score from anywhere on the court. He shot .400 from 3-point range last season but is at .227 right now. He’s 4-of-9 from 3-point range in the last three games, so maybe he’s turning a corner.
Richmond has had plenty of success at home this season, but this game is on Broad street where VCU hasn’t lost in almost a year. The game should be close but look for VCU to pull away down the stretch and win by 8-11 points after some late game fouls. KenPom picks VCU to win 71-62 with an 81% chance of victory.
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- Location: Richmond, VA
- Enrollment: 4,350
- Conference: A-10
- All time series: VCU leads 42-26.
- Last meeting: 3/16/2013. VCU won 93-82.
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- Recap: VCU finishes strong, gets revenge
- RAMS: The Black & Blue Classic 2.0
- RAMS: Instaclassic VCU-UR game will elevate rivalry
- RAMS: The Black & Blue Classic 1.0
- The Black: VCU destroys RVA rival University of Richmond 73-51