Written by Noah Goldberg
“It would be unacceptable to lose,” Grant Golden said at media availability today. While he was actually answering whether or not the Patriots will win the Super Bowl on Sunday, the mindset is likely the same for him and the rest of the Spiders as they begin a three game homestand tomorrow against La Salle.
Richmond is coming off of their first win in four games, a road victory against the St. Louis Billikens. A ten point underdog, the Spiders went into Chaifetz Arena and proceeded to score 84 points against one of the top defensive teams in the A10. Despite a late game comeback by the Billikens, including an effective full court press, the Spiders held on for an 84-81 victory.
The last four minutes of games have been a struggle recently for the Spiders. Of the four losses in a row prior to Wednesday night, all but the Davidson game were within a few possessions in the final minutes. Golden told media today regarding the late game struggles, “I think two of the biggest things [are] one: fatigue, we have a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes. And two: we’re so young. Three sophomores, two freshmen starting, playing a lot of minutes.”
The minutes certainly aren’t going to decrease for those starters as 6th-man senior, Julius Johnson, injured his calf Wednesday night as well as a minor sprain in his ankle, according to coach Mooney. “He’ll be certainly out for Saturday and I would expect he’ll be out for the whole week,” Mooney said today.
Coach also noted that forward Sal Koureissi could likely see an uptick in minutes in Johnson’s absence, “We’ll definitely get Sal in the game a little bit more. Sal’s gone anywhere from being the first sub to not playing. He’s been a hard worker and a good player.” A freshman out of Harlem, New York, Koureissi has seen his minutes ebb and flow this season as he continues to develop. He’s got great length and a strong finishing ability, but will look to improve his jumper and quickness as his Spider career continues. He’s averaging about five minutes per game and 1.9 points per game, so look for those numbers to creep up in the absence of Johnson.
Despite the tough road win last Wednesday, Richmond is yet to win in the Robins Center in conference play this year. Close losses against Duquesne and St. Bonaventure’s have shown that when the Spiders aren’t knocking down shots they struggle to finish tight games down the stretch. Conversely, as we saw against St. Louis, they can compete with almost anyone when they are shooting the ball well.
They’ll have a great opportunity to achieve that first home win against La Salle tomorrow in the Robins Center. While the Explorers are only 5-14, strong conference play has them at 3-4 in the A10, two spots ahead of Richmond. Their senior guard, Pookie Powell, has led the team in scoring this year at 15.7 points per game and has run their offense efficiently in A10 play. Also look for guard Traci Carter to be disruptive defensively on the perimeter. He leads La Salle with 2 steals per game.
The Spiders will hopefully be able to carry over their offensive rhythm into the Robins Center tomorrow night. No longer having to deal with the ferocious Hassan French on the glass, if they can hit shots consistently, they’ll have a great chance to be successful. Tip off in Richmond is tomorrow at 6pm EST on 99.5 FM & 950 AM ESPN.