By Noah Goldberg
The Spiders look to keep their defensive energy rolling from a 64-44 blowout of Boston College as they head to Hampton University Tuesday. Richmond goes into its first road test of the year as 15.5 point favorites despite losing to the Pirates by 20 last year.
6’ 10” redshirt junior Grant Golden did not play against the Eagles on Saturday due to a left ankle injury he had sustained at the end of a 79-65 loss to #18 Auburn. Sources have informed me that he will be a gametime decision. Expect Chris Mooney and his staff to veer on the cautionary side, considering both the strength of matchup and how the Spiders defended without Golden.
Sophomore Sal Koureissi made his first career start in place in Golden on Saturday and played solid defense, but it was freshman Tyler Burton who’s physical performance stood out. Standing at 6’ 7”, Burton’s strength, leaping ability and length have made him Richmond’s toughest rebounder and an effective defender. In 22 minutes (career high), he grabbed five rebounds and recorded four steals.
After struggling to shoot in the Barclays Center, junior Jacob Gilyard came back strong on Saturday, dropping 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals. Gilyard is leading the nation with 3.57 steals per game. With ten points Tuesday, he can earn 1,000 on his career and become the third Spider with 1,000 points and 200 steals, joining Kevin Anderson and Tony Dobbins.
Hampton (3-4) enters this rematch ranked 273rd according to KenPom and have yet to beat a Division-1 opponent this season. The Pirates are led by their senior guard Jermaine Marrow (6’ 0” 182 lbs), who’s averaging 24.9 points and 5.7 assists at a 35.5 USG%. He’s shooting just 29.8 3FG% despite leading his team with 6.7 attempts. In fact, Hampton shoots just 34.7% from deep, so look for Gilyard and company to force them into tough looks from range. The Pirates also feature a 6’ 6” sophomore wing Benjamin Stanley, who’s posting 17.6 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Hampton is giving up 74.6 points per game, just 291st in the country. Richmond, on the other hand, has flipped its defensive effectiveness around. After allowing an average of 90 points through two games, the Spiders have locked in, holding opponents to 58.8 points on 36.5 FG% over their last five games, including contests against Wisconsin, #18 Auburn and Boston College.
Burton and Koureissi’s defensive impact has been invaluable. The pair of underclassmen lead Richmond with a 5.8 defensive box plus/minus, and Burton’s 98.7 defensive rating trails only Gilyard’s 98.6. Expect the two to see major minutes once again if Golden cannot go.
With a win, Richmond would improve to 7-1, its best start since 2009-2010. The Spiders also received two points in the AP Top-25 voting poll, their first votes since 2011. Tip off from the Hampton Convocation Center is at 7 p.m. EST. Make sure to catch the broadcast on 99.5 & 102.7 ESPN Richmond starting at 6:30.