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Connor Crabtree was expected to be ready in time for opening day this season as he returned from hip surgery, but lingering pain caused the Tulane transfer to miss the Spiders’ first four games. A day ahead of their road matchup at #11 West Virginia, the redshirt sophomore announced he will make his Richmond debut via Twitter and Instagram. He left Tulane after head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr was fired following the 2018-2019 season.
— Connor Crabtree (@C_crab5) December 12, 2020
“I’m so happy for Connor to be back,” associate head coach Marcus Jenkins said Saturday. “He’s worked hard for this moment and deserves the opportunity to compete with our team. He’s another experienced player for us – his energy, competitiveness, and shot making will fit in nicely.”
The prolific starting five was among the best offensive units in the nation in 2019-2020 and is the 42nd most efficient through their four games this year, according to KenPom. Despite returning four of five starters, many believed the A-10 preseason favorites could take another jump offensively. Chris Mooney reeled in an excellent freshman class featuring Isaiah Wilson, Djimon Bailey and Andre Weir. Even with the rotation bumping up one spot after Nick Sherod’s season ending knee injury, those fresh faces along with returning juniors Sal Koureissi, Andre Gustavson, Matt Grace and the newly eligible Crabtree promised not only a cavalry that could hold down the fort defensively but even score effectively and maintain floor spacing.
As a freshman, Crabtree started 14 of 18 American Athletic Conference games, scoring 7.7 points on 38.3 3FG%. He displayed great athleticism and a shooting ability that Richmond has not had off of its bench in recent memory. The 6’ 6” guard could be a bigger and quicker version of Jake Wojcik with more consistency. His size provides versatility that would allow Mooney to play him anywhere from the 2-4, though ideally in a wing-type of role.
He could not have returned at a more opportune time. Richmond heads to Morgantown to take on the #11 Mountaineers at 1 pm Sunday, its greatest test of the season. Bob Huggins’ defense may not be the “Press Virginia” college basketball is accustomed to, but it is the 10th most efficient in the game, per KenPom, and held North Texas to 50 points on Friday night. Grace and Koureissi have been excellent off of the bench through four games, however neither they nor Gustavson provide significant floor spacing off the catch, let alone what Crabtree brings to the table off of the dribble. Wilson was a great three point shooter in high school, but he has played just six minutes per game and could see even less time now with Crabtree back.
It appears unlikely that Crabtree will be held under any minutes restriction Sunday, per source. If Sunday is the battle most expect it to be, whoever has the hot hand is probably going to be on the floor.