The next opponent for the Dukes is (are?) the Spiders of Richmond, who visit the AJ Palumbo Center this Wednesday night. This Richmond team has had a lot to deal with over the past two weeks.
The Spiders are going to have to adjust to life without their leading scorer, senior Cedrick Lindsay. He’ll be missing the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in both knees, unfortunate news for a team that, at 15 – 8, had the chance to make some real noise. They still do, but the road will be much harder. Lindsay’s absence will leave a bit of a leadership void on the team, as Derrick Williams, their only other senior, recently left the squad for personal reasons. Williams was not playing as well as he had in previous years, but was still an important piece for this team.
They have definitely had the time to make those adjustments to their game plan. The Spiders will have been idle for a week by the tip of this game, having beaten St. Bonaventure by a basket on February 5th. If there is a coach who can teach young players to fill a Lindsay-sized hole, it is probably Chris Mooney, though their NCAA hopes are all but dashed at this point.
That St. Bonaventure win didn’t come easily, but the Spiders’ system prevailed. “We stuck to what trying to do and our defense improved so much in the second half,” Mooney said after the game. That defense – combined with the pace that Richmond sets – means that teams must shoot very well, and likely on limited possessions, if they are to beat Richmond. Indeed, Mooney’s Spiders are in the bottom third of the country in possessions per game.
Traditionally, that’s a game plan that we’ve seen stymie the typically-uptempo Dukes.
With Lindsay absent, the load falls on the shoulders of junior Kendall Anthony. If he was trying to make a statement about what he can do to carry it, he certainly succeeded during the Bonnies game. Anthony put up 28 points, including the game-winning shot in the closing seconds. It was the second straight game that he put up a high point total.
The Dukes have been here before, squaring off against a team that is shorthanded and hoping to take advantage. That didn’t work so well against George Washington. Richmond’s system will make it difficult for the Dukes in this game as well.