It has been a wild ride already in college basketball. One of the talks so far as been how the A-10 may be a conference of interest when it comes to the NCAA Tournament this year, as they currently have Duquesne sitting at 7-0 to start the season and four other teams sitting with one loss.
Teams like Dayton, VCU, and Saint Louis might garner the early season attention but there should be another name on that list… that is the Richmond Spiders sitting at 8-1 on the season.
On the season, the Spiders are averaging nearly 80 points per game with a 12.5 scoring margin so far and includes wins against Boston College, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. The only loss on the season was against then No. 18 Auburn but they were within striking distance for much of that game.
What makes this team so dangerous and fun to watch though? It is their three lead guards on the floor in Blake Francis, Jacob Gilyard, and Nick Sherod. All of which are averaging double-figures and can take over the scoring attack in any game and they can absolutely let it fly from deep.
Just take a look at their stats through nine games so far this season:
Blake Francis: 32.0mpg, 18.0ppg, 44% FG, 43% from 3 (28-65)
Jacob Gilyard: 36mpg, 17.2ppg, 60% FG, 53% from 3 (26-49), 4.0rpg, 57 assists, 35 steals
Nick Sherod: 32.7mpg, 15.3ppg, 48% FG, 47% from 3 (32-67), 5.3rpg
Those three will get the headlines but Richmond also has seven other players that receive minutes consistently for this team, including forwards Grant Golden and Nathan Cayo. But Francis, Gilyard, and Sherod have been a difficult trio to handle to slow down this season.
Those three have helped Richmond rank (according to Kenpom):
9th in the nation in effective FG% (57.4)
30th in turnover % (offensively) (16.3%)
4th in 3-point percentage (42.1%)
10th in free throw percentage (79.6%)
And what is crazy to think about this roster… they do not have a senior on this team. With seven juniors, six sophomores, and two freshmen on the team, the Spiders will look to return their entire roster next year with another year of experience.
Coming into the season, not many may have thought the A-10 would be where they are today, with several teams making some early noise. But experts and fans need to start checking out and following the Spiders, as they could be a big-time dark horse for this conference but one that could make big noise.
With their style of play of letting it fly from deep along with the thrilling play from their 3-headed monster at the guard positions, the Richmond Spiders need to be a team earning the respect of many in the college basketball world.
Phenom Hoops reach out to Andrew Wallace from ESPN Richmond, as he has been following the Spiders as well. Here is what he had to add from what he has seen from the guards and team at Richmond so far.
“Jacob (Gilyard) is the complete package. Intelligent, patient, great hands. Blake (Francis) balances him so well. Confident, aggressive, powerful legs. The two of them are legitimate as perfect of complementary players that Richmond has had in a backcourt. (Nick) Sherod can guard almost any position, very powerful but smooth shooter. A guy who hits the weight room but it never has affected his touch or finesse.” – Wallace discussing the 3 guards at Richmond
“Toughness has been the nicest surprise. Really didn’t think Mooney could implement a tough defensive philosophy but he has. This team takes pride in half-court defense, even if they miss on certain offensive possessions which is a big change.” – Wallace on overall team so far