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Richmond looks a lot like a team KU just played

Team: Richmond
Record: 9-2
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 66

Old Dominion's Donte Hill, right, defends Richmond's Darien Brothers during their game, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in Norfolk, Va.

Old Dominion's Donte Hill, right, defends Richmond's Darien Brothers during their game, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in Norfolk, Va.

3 Strengths

Shooting: Much like Belmont, Richmond enters Allen Fieldhouse as one of the top shooting teams in the country. The Spiders rank 19th in effective field goal percentage and also are in the nation's top 50 in two-point percentage (52.1 percent) and three-point percentage (38.8 percent). Richmond's three-point percentage is especially impressive considering 41 percent of their field-goal tries are three-pointers, which is the 23rd-highest split nationally.

Drawing free throws: Richmond ranks 29th nationally in free throw rate — a statistic used to show how often a team gets to the line compared to its field goal attempts. Despite playing at the nation's 299th-fastest pace, the Spiders still average more than 23 free throws per game. That's especially valuable with the way Richmond shoots freebies, as it has made 77 percent of its charity tries this year (21st nationally). Add it all up, and the Spiders get 24 percent of their offensive output from free throws, which is the 42nd-highest split nationally.

Forcing turnovers: Richmond thrives on taking the ball away, registering steals on 13.4 percent of their defensive possessions (30th nationally). Overall, opposing teams turn it over on 24.6 percent of possessions against Richmond (41st nationally). The team's best ball-swipers are on the perimeter, as starting guard Cedrick Lindsay (No. 2) and reserve guard Wayne Sparrow (No. 4) both rank in the nation's top 120 in steal percentage.

3 Weaknesses

Defensive rebounding: Richmond plays extremely small in the post, ranking 319th in KenPom's "effective height" measure (which takes into account only the two tallest players on the floor). Because of this, the Spiders have struggled corralling defensive rebounds, grabbing just 64.9 percent of their opponents' misses (260th nationally). Richmond only has two rotation players 6 foot 9 or taller, and both average fewer than 15 minutes per game.

Fouling too often: Though Richmond thrives in offensive free throw rate, it's not so great at defensive free throw rate, ranking 211th nationally in the stat. Opponents are averaging just over 20 free throws per game, which has ended up hurting the Spiders quite a bit. Those opponents have made 73.3 percent of their free throws against Richmond, which might suggest the Spiders have fouled too many good free throw shooters (read: guards) this season.

Getting shots rejected: Richmond is a team that has a lot of shots blocked, as 11.9 percent of its two-pointers are rejected (289th nationally). It's amazing, then, how accurate Richmond has been on close shots despite getting all those shots swatted. The Spiders are still shooting 66 percent on layups/dunks, which is still well above the NCAA average of 61 percent. Once again, this shows Richmond is very selective with the shots it takes inside the arc.

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-6 junior Derrick Williams (No. 34) is Richmond's best player. Offensively, his greatest strength is getting to the free throw line, as he's third nationally in free throw rate (and also a 79-percent free throw shooter). The forward actually has shot more free throws this year (84) than field goals (78), something that's extremely rare this late into a season. Williams also ranks 75th in effective field goal percentage, helped by 65-percent accuracy from two-point range (44 of 68) and 80-percent shooting on layups/dunks.

Williams also is easily the Spiders' best rebounder, grabbing 12.3 percent of the available offensive boards (171st nationally) and 18.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds (343rd nationally). His one glaring weakness is carelessness, as he gives it away more than three times per game while leading the team with 34 turnovers.

• Six-foot-3 senior Darien Brothers (No. 3) is Richmond's biggest threat from the perimeter. He's made more than half of his threes this year (28 of 54) while posting the nation's 64th-best effective field goal percentage. The guard also is dangerous when he gets to the line, making 31 of 36 this year (86.1 percent). Brothers isn't a great passer and doesn't turn it over much, making him mostly a one-dimensional player ... though that dimension is very strong.

• Five-foot-8, 140-pound freshman guard Kendall Anthony (No. 0) is a bench player even though he doesn't play like one. The Jackson, Tenn., native isn't shy, putting up a team-high 29.7 percent of his team's shots when he's on the court (119th nationally). That's not a bad thing, either, as Anthony is an efficient player, rarely turning it over while making 42 percent of his threes (19 of 45) and getting to the free throw line often, drawing five fouls per 40 minutes. Like most of the Spiders, he doesn't miss free throws, connecting on 38 of 45 this year (84.4 percent). Though Anthony isn't much of a defender, he's definitely a player to be wary of on the offensive end.

Prediction

My score predictions have stunk lately (other than picking the correct winner), and this game once again looks like a tough score pick, as it could have a wide range of outcomes.

I'm not sure if you noticed, but five of the six strengths and weaknesses above are the exact same strengths and weaknesses that Belmont had last week. And that game turned into a 29-point drubbing.

Basically, Richmond is Belmont with slightly worse defense. Still, this is a hard game to predict because of one factor: three-point shots.

Richmond shoots a ton of them. KU's defense surrenders a ton of them (36.1 percent of opponents' shots against KU this year have been threes).

Much like Belmont, Richmond going to be content to play the lottery Tuesday night by shooting a lot of three-pointers. Almost every team should do this against KU, because any three-point attempt is better than a Jeff Withey-blocked two.

If Richmond makes eight of 38 threes like Belmont did, this one will be a rout.

If the Spiders are hot, though, this could be a close game. And yes, the Spiders could even repeat 2004 and come away with a victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

This will continue to be a scary-type team for KU to play as long as it continues to allow a high percentage of three-point attempts.

So my guess? Let's say Richmond makes just below its season average for threes at 35 percent, which would make this a close-but-not-too-close victory for the Jayhawks.

Kansas 71, Richmond 61

Hawk to Rock

This could potentially be a tough defensive matchup for KU center Jeff Withey, who will have to be alert on ball-screen defense while also getting out quickly to perimeter shooters, but there's a lot to like about this matchup for him otherwise. Much like the Belmont game, he should be able to get the ball deep against an undersized Richmond front line. He also should have a nice night on the glass and will have an opportunity for at least a handful of blocks. If he's focused in defensively and allows KU coach Bill Self to stay with a big lineup, the potential is there for a big game statistically.

Predictions tally
9-0 record, 127 points off (14.1 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Average: 4.6th in KUsports.com ratings

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Comments

kusayzone 1 year, 7 months ago

Stupidmichael! Are you scared yet?

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Kevin Huffman 1 year, 7 months ago

How often can you repeat guys that you pick "to Rock"? 'cause I would just keep rolling with BMc for a while!!! :)

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Jesse Newell 1 year, 7 months ago

Ha. Good point.

Maybe this is better: "Richmond starts players that are 6 foot 9 and 6 foot 6 at forward. No player 6-7 or taller averages more than 15 minutes per game."

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Steve Kubler 1 year, 7 months ago

I probably will not express this well but here goes.

With the block percentage KU has going this year, mostly Withey of course, it is understandable that opponents are going to be shooting from outside more than the norm against KU. However then we say that KU is 'giving up' three point attempts. I find that objectionable as they are being somewhat forced to go outside to the lower percentage shots.

Now if the team is making those shots this is a problem but so far this year one player, and I can not remember the name, has lit it up and when Travis was switched to him he promptly got shut down again. I guess my point is that our three point defense is not that bad rather our 2 point D is good enough no one wants a part of it. I believe that for the most partl KU's perimeter D has been good enough to disrupt the shooting percentage overall. They are getting the shots off but for the most part they are not high quality shot attempts.

I could be full of it, and probably am, but until I see a pattern of consistent scoring from outside by opposing teams I see the fact they are being forced to shoot from there as a good thing. Yes, I remember those NCAA losses to hot three shooting teams, I just believe this team is putting just enough pressure on those shooters to limit that potential.

Here is hoping I'm not proved wrong.

Also, thankfully tonight's game is actually on a channel my cable provider deems worthy of providing so I won't be watching a grainy, stop motion, streamed video feed once more!!

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Jesse Newell 1 year, 7 months ago

Hey Kubie — Ken Pomeroy has studied three-point percentages quite a bit, and his conclusion is that defenses have very little control of whether opposing teams' threes go in or not.

That might be an oversimplification, but when you think about it, I believe it does make some sense.

There was a groundbreaking study in baseball a few years ago that found that, once a pitch is put in play, pitchers have little control whether it goes for a hit or not. Almost all hitters' BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) is .300. Though there are a few outliers, for the most part, this holds true.

Pomeroy insists the best way to defend threes is to keep them from happening. And some teams have been successful year after year at doing this (Rick Majerus was a disciple of this; so is Bo Ryan).

I think if you look at Self's history at KU, you'll see from the opposition's three-point percentages that three-point percentage might be more random that we give it credit for.

Here is where KU has ranked nationally in two-point percentage defense and three-point percentage defense under Self (from KenPom.com). It appears two-point FG defense is teachable (and recruitable in the case of Jeff Withey). Three-point FG defense, in my eyes, doesn't appear to be as controllable.

KU's two-point FG defense
2004 — 12th
2005 — 10th
2006 — 1st
2007 — 3rd
2008 — 4th
2009 — 4th
2010 — 1st
2011 — 42nd
2012 — 2nd
2013 — 6th

KU's three-point FG defense
2004 — 32nd
2005 — 37th
2006 — 156th
2007 — 33rd
2008 — 55th
2009 — 118th
2010 — 116th
2011 — 9th
2012 — 152nd
2013 — 104th

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Steve Kubler 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, I said I might be full of it! LOL Thanks for the info Jesse, I'll guess we will have to take Pomeroy serious on this as he's pretty good, as HCBS would say!

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Jesse Newell 1 year, 7 months ago

Ha. Definitely not saying you're full of it. There's definitely something to getting out to a shooter to contest a shot ... maybe just not as much as we might think.

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KanedaMGM 1 year, 7 months ago

But the 36.1 percent number has nothing to do with defense, just the percentage of opponents shot attempts behind the arc. Seems that Withey WOULD have a large impact on that. They are scared to get into the lane with him.

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montanahawk 1 year, 7 months ago

This. If they are scared to get into the lane for a 2-pt fg they may not be taking as good of a 3-pt shot as they normally would.

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montanahawk 1 year, 7 months ago

this. If they are scared to get into the lane for a 2-pt shot, they may be rushed and not get as good of a 3-pt shot as they normally would get.

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Jesse Newell 1 year, 7 months ago

Here's my main point: The Jayhawks could have a greater impact on how many 3s are taken against them compared to how many 3s are made against them. Not saying Self should change his defensive principles (which have obviously worked at KU). But if KU wanted to change how it plays help defense to allow fewer threes, it could definitely do that. Majerus did that. Wisconsin does that. KU isn't doing that, so the threat of a hot-shooting three-point team knocking KU off (especially one that has a profile like Richmond's) is going to be there as long as KU defends the way it does.

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jessejayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Jesse-- I have to disagee with Pomeroy to some extent. In our game against belmont our defense was forcing the play further out thus Belmont's 3 attempts were something like 2 feet further out. I have to think that this will cause a significant drop in the opponents ability to make their three's. I hope the Hawks employ the same agressive perimeter defense in this game. Will wait and see.

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Steve Kubler 1 year, 7 months ago

Nice call on Withey, he dominated!

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