Bald Prophet Preview: Richmond V. South Carolina

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Bald Prophet Preview:  Richmond V. South Carolina
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At A Glance:

 

Richmond:  7-2. AP: NR ESPN: NR BP: NR RPI: 33 BPI: 39

South Carolina:  6-2. AP: NR ESPN: NR BP: NR RPI: 69 BPI: 75

 

Point Guards:

 

David Gonzalvez has improved his game every season and boasts nearly a three-to-one turnover-to-assist ratio in his senior campaign.  He rebounds well from the point position (nearly four a game) while making nearly half his shots.  However, he is a mediocre free-throw shooter (62 percent) which is obviously a factor in crunch time.

If college basketball suddenly limited players to six feet and under Devan Downey would be a perennial candidate for first-team All-America.  But while his shooting from the field and line are at career highs his turnover ratio is at a career low.  Considering he brings the scary to all facets of his game this probably isn’t a huge concern but it bears watching once the Gamecocks get into conference play.  He’s a defensive demon who will make like difficult for his opposite number.

 

Advantage:  South Carolina.  Hmmm…..all-SEC performer vs. steadily improving – well, you get the picture.

 

Shooting Guards:

 

Kevin Anderson never leaves the floor and isn’t shy about putting it up (35 minutes a game, 14 shots a game).  This translates to his leading-scorer status (17.3 points a game).  Despite his height disadvantage he’s a decent defender but turns the ball over.  Look for him to get the call to shoot it if this is a close contest.

Brandis Raley-Ross has taken advantage of increased playing time to average over 12 points a game.  He makes nearly half his shots from radar-love distance and also provides quality defensive support.  The Gamecocks’ backcourt isn’t long on height but make up for it in speed and quickness.

 

Advantage:  Even.  This looks like the most interesting battle of the night.  Raley-Ross might have to sacrifice a bit of his offense.

 

Swingmen:

 

The most impressive stat from Ryan Butler’s records this year is his performance from the line (14-for-14).  He’s not a threat in the interior (only 2.5 shots per game from inside three, less than three rebounds a game) and has had at least three fouls in seven of nine contests this year.  He could excel if he gets a good matchup against a three-guard lineup but he’s not the guy you have to worry about down the stretch.

If Dominique Archie were able to play this matchup wouldn’t be close but a knee injury is keeping him on the sidelines until conference play.  In his stead, freshman Lakeem Jackson has provided about ten points a game and six rebounds a game.  Obviously the Gamecocks would prefer to have Archie back but this bodes very well for the future of the program.

 

Advantage:  South Carolina.  Even though Jackson’s a youngster, he has stepped up to the plate.

 

Power Forwards:

 

Justin Harper has a lot of potential in the A-10.  There’s not a lot of six-ten power forwards in the conference and he’s willing to do some dirty work on the offensive glass.  He can also step outside if the opportunity presents itself and be effective.  While he’s not a double-digit scorer yet look for that figure to increase once conference play starts.

Sam Muldrow reminds some people of Jarvis Varnado with his shot-blocking ability but he is a bit more of an offensive threat than his Mississippi State counterpart.  Even though Archie and Mike Holmes get more press Muldrow is a very important part of this lineup who could be a first-team all-conference player next year as a senior.

 

Advantage:  South Carolina.  Harper may realize his potential but Muldrow is tapping into it.

 

Centers:

 

Dan Geriot is a physical specimen at 6-9 and 255 but plays as a point center in this Princeton-style offense (2.3 assists per game).  He had an impressive 16-point, 17-rebound effort earlier this season against VMI but is not going to thrill you with his shooting acumen (37 percent from the field).  He’s also yet to block a shot this season.

Mike Holmes is apparently a poster child for the cliché “Don’t try this at home” as he has been sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from facial surgery, allegedly due to horseplay at home.  Austin Steed isn’t really a center but will probably play one on TV until Holmes returns.  In a nutshell, his role is to get out of the way while his teammates do their work.

 

Advantage: Richmond.  If South Carolina gets any production from Steed it will be a bonus.

 

Bench:

 

With Princeton-style teams the bench doesn’t usually get many opportunities to produce and it’s not like the Spiders have done much with those opportunities.  Only two players average more than ten minutes a game and they are combining to average a miniscule four points a game.  The bench’s role is to give the starters a breather before they get back on the floor ASAP.

The Gamecocks’ bench could be a real asset once they get Archie and Holmes back.  Until then, third guard Ramon Galloway provides almost nine points a game.  The other bench performers are there to give the occasional breather.

 

Advantage:  South Carolina.  Richmond doesn’t have anybody who comes close to matching Galloway’s production.

 

 

Coaching:

 

Chris Mooney has gotten the Spiders to buy into the system he played in for four years at Princeton.  Even though he has a losing record overall he has taken the Spiders to postseason tournaments in each of the last two seasons. 

Darrin Horn just signed a contract extension, which has been well-deserved.  He is having more success than his mentor Tom Crean and likes his team to push the ball up the court. 

 

Advantage:  South Carolina.  Mooney is getting Richmond back to contention in the A-10 but Horn has done it every year with each team that he’s been with.

 

Prediction:

 

Even though South Carolina has a decided advantage on paper Richmond’s walk-it-up style could give the Gamecocks fits.  The Spiders have also become a wise-guy pick to return to the Dance this season and South Carolina has struggled against teams likely to play on the big stage in March.  Still, I think the Gamecocks have a decided advantage at key positions, which will make the difference.

 

South Carolina 71, Richmond 63.

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