Golden to fill cen­ter­piece role for Rich­mond

Small Spiders will need Cline-like play from big man

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - COLLEGES - BY JOHN O’CONNOR jo­con­nor@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6233 @RTDjohno­con­nor

Two bas­ket­ball sea­sons ago, T.J. Cline was the Univer­sity of Rich­mond’s cen­ter­piece, a 6-foot-9 for­ward who led the Spiders to a third-place fin­ish in the A-10 (13-5) and an over­all record of 22-13.

Cline av­er­aged 18.5 points, 7.8 re­bounds, and 5.7 as­sists. The most im­por­tant digit in his im­pres­sive, crowded stat line was a zero. Cline did not foul out. He played 33 min­utes per game.

Cline did not miss a start. No in­jury. No sick­ness. No sus­pen­sion.

Cline’s pres­ence on the court was vi­tal to the Spiders’ suc­cess for two rea­sons: He was the A-10 player of the year, and be­cause none of their other starters was taller than 6-4, Rich­mond needed Cline’s size to fa­cil­i­tate of­fen­sive flow, and to de­ter op­po­nents’ high­per­cent­age op­por­tu­ni­ties around the bas­ket.

UR coach Chris Mooney clev­erly used Cline, re­mov­ing him for a few min­utes af­ter he picked up an early foul, or when play be­came a bit rough and of­fi­cials’ whis­tles sounded with in­creased fre­quency.

This bring us to Grant Golden, UR’s 6-10 red­shirt sopho­more. Golden last sea­son av­er­aged 15.6 points and 6.7 re­bounds. Those stats may rise to Cline-ish fig­ures this sea­son, if Golden can stay healthy, out of foul trou­ble and com­posed.

Like Cline, Golden will be the cen­ter­piece on a small­ish team. Golden weighs 265 pounds and Nick Sherod, a 6-4 ju­nior, checks in at 230. No other Spi­der schol­ar­ship player weighs more than 210. Rich­mond’s other in­side reg­u­lar will prob­a­bly be 6-7, 205-pound sopho­more Nathan Cayo, Men’s bas­ket­ball sea­son opener

Nov. 9: 7 p.m. which sug­gests the Spiders could ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­culty hold­ing off op­po­nents de­ter­mined to play power ball.

For Rich­mond to be its best, Golden must stay ac­tive without foul­ing much, and fit.

“Ob­vi­ously, that’s some­thing that Coach Mooney and the whole staff has talked to me about,” Golden said. “Some of it is up to me, in terms of tak­ing care of my body, get­ting treat­ment, stuff like that, stay­ing out of foul trou­ble, con­trol­ling my emo­tions in terms of tech­ni­cals, not forc­ing the coach­ing staff to take me out of the game.

“A lot of it’s in my hands. There’s a lot I can’t con­trol. But if I man­age the things that I can con­trol as much as pos­si­ble, that’ll give me the best op­por­tu­nity to stay in the game.”

In the off­sea­son, Golden said he worked on his out­side shoot­ing — he con­verted 27.5 per­cent of his 3-point at­tempts last sea­son — and dou­bling the num­ber of post moves in which he has a high de­gree of con­fi­dence, to four.

The Spiders’ three play­ers who can be viewed as all-A-10 can­di­dates: Golden, Sherod (14.3 ppg) and 5-9 sopho­more Ja­cob Gil­yard (11.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.8 spg). Any of them could turn out to be Rich­mond’s nost valu­able player. UR’s most in­dis­pens­able player? Golden.

Note: Rich­mond meets Ham­p­den-Sydney in an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Robins Cen­ter at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27 (free), and opens against vis­it­ing Long­wood on Nov. 9.

ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

UR’s Grant Golden av­er­aged 15.6 points and 6.7 re­bounds last sea­son. The red­shirt sopho­more worked on his out­side shoot­ing in the off­sea­son.

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