Spiders have ample experience getting best of Eagles
UR defeated Friday’s season- opening foe in 2011 NCAA tourney
Behold the fruited plain of Richmond’s NCAA tournament basketball victories. Auburn (1984), Indiana (1988), Georgia Tech (1988), Syracuse (1991), South Carolina (1998) and Vanderbilt (2011) stick out. They’re national brands. UR was a double-digit seed elimi
nating a top-five seed in each.
Morehead State may rank at the back of the pack when it comes to indelible impressions, but the Spiders’ win over the Eagles in the 2011 NCAA tournament sent Richmond to the Sweet 16.
Morehead State and Richmond reunite Friday at 6 p.m. in the Bluegrass Showcase, at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena.
Coach Chris Mooney’s Richmond team won the 2011 A-10 championship. Based on NCAA tournament seeding, a meeting with Morehead State seemed highly unlikely. Two upsets made the date in Denver.
The Spiders, a No. 12 seed with four senior starters,
knocked off fifth-seeded Vanderbilt 69-66 for Richmond’s first NCAA tournament win in 13 years. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings knew UR’s matchup zone was going to present problems.
“When you play a team like Richmond, and there aren’t that many of them, then you are forced to prepare differently,” said Stallings. “You’re not just going to be running your standard man offense, and you might not be running your standard zone offense. They’ve chosen to be different and difficult on both ends.”
UR blocked nine shots, five by 6-foot-9 Darrius Garrett. “Guys get so hesitant to drive in there, and they kind of settle for long jump shots because they know he’s waiting for them at the rim,” Richmond forward Justin Harper said of Garrett.
Guard Kevin Anderson hit a late-game floater to put away Vandy, and scored 16 of his 25 in the second half.
Harper added 13. Spiders center Dan Geriot took a first-half elbow from Vanderbilt’s 6-11, 255pound Festus Ezeli that caused Geriot, with assistance, to stagger off the Pepsi Center court, leaving a trail of blood. Geriot returned to the game.
“You never know how you’re going to feel when you go back out there, but I’ve got to get guys shots and I’ve got to get this offense going, especially against a zone,” saidGeriot, who had three assists.
On the same Thursday in Denver, Ohio Valley Conference champion Morehead State celebrated the biggest win in program history. Playing fourthseeded— and Kentucky neighbor — Louisville, the 13th-seeded Eagles got a 3-pointer from Demonte Harper with four seconds left to knock out the Cardinals 62-61.
Richmond’s Saturday game plan vs. Morehead State: Control 6-8 Kenneth Faried, the nation’s leading rebounder (14.6 rpg). Faried had grabbed 20 or more rebounds six times that season, despite focused attention by opponents.
“There’s nothing unusual to me now,” said Faried, who averaged 17.5 points. “People just boxing me out, different people, groups of people grabbing me, pulling me. I’m used to almost everything probably.”
The Spiders handled Faried with double-coverage out of Mooney’s matchup zone, bottling him up each time he touched the ball.
Faried finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds as UR won 65-48. Harper scored 19.
With its ninth consecutive win, Richmond improved to 29-7 and was off to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1988. At San Antonio’s Alamaodome, a top seed waited.
“Kansas, the thing that jumps out if you’re watching them and looking at their stats, is just how easily they score and how potent they are offensively,” said Mooney. “The most impressive part about them in my opinion is for all these star players and highly recruited guys, they share the ball extremely well.
“That’s something that’s hard to shut down, when you don’t know where the ball is going to be all the time.”
The Jayhawks went ahead 17-7 after 8:13,
29-9 after 13 minutes, and bounced UR 77-57, ending one of the most memorable seasons in Spiders history.
Kansas did not escape another Richmond team at the Alamodome. VCU, a No. 11 seed, upset the Jayhawks in the next round on the way to the Final Four.
Four of the players on that Richmond team are assistant coaches: Anderson at Liberty, Kevin Smith at Campbell, Kevin Hovde at San Francisco, and Geriot with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“There was a lot of IQ and high accountability on that court,” said Anderson, the second-leading scorer in program history (2,165 points).