As a law student at the University of Richmond, I have been waiting and waiting for this game to happen. For me personally, this is the biggest game of the year. The Bonnies (10-6) travel to take on the Richmond Spiders (9-7) in a critical game for both teams. Both teams are coming off a loss, and both need to get their seasons going in a right direction in order to compete to make a postseason tournament. The Bonnies are coming off of their lowest point total of the year, scoring only 51 points against St. Joes in an eleven point loss at the Reilly Center. Richmond, who is prone to low point totals, is coming of a loss to Virginia Tech in where they only scored 48 points.
Scouting Richmond: Richmond gets very good play from its 1 and 2 guards, as Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez average 16.0 and 15.4 ppg respectively. Richmond is a very balanced team, as they also get good play from their forwards, as Jarhon Giddings and Justin Harper each average 9.0 and 9.8 points respectively. Richmond has the personnel that fits their system very well, as they have also got a talented freshman who has great perimeter skills in Josh Duinker, who averages 5.3 ppg. Duinker is very raw however, and is definitely not as polished as Andrew Nicholson. Richmond has two other very solid players in Kevin Smith and Ryan Butler, as Butler is a lights out shooter and Smith is just a freak athlete. Richmond is a tough team.
Richmond does have weaknesses however. Like Bonas, Richmond does not know how to finish games. Richmond has lost many close games and should have more wins than they do currently. Richmond is a purely perimeter team, as even their forwards are more adept at scoring from the perimeter than in the paint. While Richmond runs their sets well, they often take too long to develop their sets on offense, and are forced to take contested shots as the shot clock winds down. This makes Richmond prone to droughts. Richmond does not execute as well as they usually need to, and hopefully Bonaventure can take advantage of their offensive droughts.
The Keys to Victory: 1) Contain Kevin Anderson. Without Ray Blackburn, Malcolm Eleby needs to step up HUGE on the defensive end. Kevin Anderson is the quickest guard in the Atlantic 10, and it will be tough for Bonas to guard him in the absence of Blackburn. Expect a lot of 3-2/1-3-1 zone tonight from the Bonnies.
2) Contest shots. Richmond is a perimeter team. They will have 5 shooters on the floor at all times. Bonas needs to contest everything, and make sure that Richmond gets no easy looks at the bucket.
3) Guard backdoor cuts. The Princeton offense is set up to create backdoor opportunities, and the Bonnies need to make stopping these opportunities one of their main priorities.
4) Play under control/Play our game: The Bonnies have been out of sync lately within their fast break and half court offenses. Settle down, and play under control. We are a running team, but absolute chaos is not a good thing.
Final Thoughts: This is a big game. The Bonnies need this one to ensure that they will be able to make the Atlantic 10 Tournament. This game is winnable, but without Ray, it will be very hard. A big game from Eleby is needed in this one.