Virginia Tech will play their final non-conference game of the season on
Wednesday night. The Richmond Spiders travel to Blacksburg, and they’ll be
looking to knock off the Hokies for the second year in a row. A win would give
Tech their sixth victory in the past seven games.
Richmond is a good basketball team with quality talent. This is a team that
led undefeated Wake Forest with three minutes to go. Their losses have all been
very close games to quality teams, including VCU and Syracuse. They won’t be
intimidated by playing an ACC team on the road. They know they can beat the
Hokies. Richmond is 9-6 on the season, but their talent level is better than
their record indicates.
Of course, the Spiders have only managed to lose close thus far. They haven’t
been able to beat a good team. The average RPI of the teams they have defeated
is 241.6, according to RealTimeRPI.com. The average RPI of the teams that have
defeated Richmond is 77.67. They lost those six games by an average of 5.5
points per game. The Spiders are very close, but they haven’t been able to close
the deal against quality competition, much like the Hokies.
Richmond has some ACC-quality players, particularly in the backcourt. According
to Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, David Gonzalvez could play for any team in
the country. Gonzalvez leads the Spiders in scoring, and he is a very versatile
offensive threat. He is shooting over 50% from the field this year, not common
for a guard, as well as 42.9% from three-point range.
Joining Gonzalvez in the backcourt is point guard Kevin Anderson. These two
players make up arguably the best backcourt in the Atlantic Ten. Anderson isn’t
a great shooter, but he is a quick guard who can get to the basket. He has 71
free throw attempts on the year, which is tops on the team.
That backcourt gets help from talented sophomore forward Justin Harper.
Though Harper is technically a power forward, he is more of a finesse player. 25
of his 53 field goals this year have come from three-point range. He is shooting
44.6% from the outside so far this year, while averaging over 10 points per
Richmond also has a solid post player in Jarhon Giddings, who averages nearly
10 points per game. He has scored in double figures in six of his last eight
games. Giddings is a native of Blacksburg, VA and played three years of high
school basketball at Blacksburg High. He’ll be ready to go in front of a home
As a team, Richmond shoots 37.1% from beyond the arc, an excellent mark. They
run a Princeton style offense, except they don’t have Ivy League talent. They
put good players on the court who can matchup well with the Hokies and other
power conference teams.
Defensively, Richmond will use a tough matchup zone. This is an extremely
difficult defense to beat. They held the nation’s highest scoring team, VMI, to
73 points. In last year’s matchup with Virginia Tech, the Spiders won 52-49. Two
years ago, the Hokies were victorious behind Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon,
but only managed a 65-53 win.
Let’s go back to Virginia Tech’s old Atlantic Ten days, when the Hokies were
playing Temple and John Cheney’s brutal zone defense. Watching those games was
like watching grass grow. That’s probably what tonight’s game is going to be
like. However, the Hokies will have more overall talent to combat that tough
zone defense than Tech had back in the A-10 days.