An experienced and deep UAB team will take on one of the youngest groups in the nation in the Richmond Spiders from the Atlantic 10 conference Monday at the Cayman Island Classic

With a win tomorrow UAB will be 4-0 to start the season for the first time in 10 years. Games played on a neutral court, especially in remote locations, can often yield unexpected outcomes, but nonetheless the Blazers should be favored heavily in this game.

As experienced and deep as UAB is, Richmond is lacking just as much in both. One of their all-time program players, T.J. Cline, graduated last year and their returning top scorer is out with an injury.

Richmond’s press release for their game against UAB:

The Spiders have started a redshirt junior (Stansbury), two sophomores (Buckingham and Sherod), a redshirt freshman (Golden), and a true freshman (Gilyard) in their two games this season.

Against Delaware, it was the first time the Spiders had no seniors in the starting lineup for their first game of the season since 1999, when three juniors and two sophomores started in a season-opening loss to Fordham.

Richmond has just two players on their roster in their final year of eligibility (Kirby, Madrid-Andrews), second-fewest in the A-10 behind George Mason. Nearly all of the Spiders production has come from freshmen or sophomores in their first two games.

Scouting The Spiders

We’ve spoken on the Spiders’ youth, but don’t count out this team from being able to turn things around sooner than later. Coach Chris Mooney is one of the best at the mid-major level coming into his 13th season with an overall 225-177 record.

Ideally the Spiders would love to run via a roster built on position-less players who all are able to handle the ball and can be threats from the perimeter. Given their roster turn over and current injury situation, they are far from implementing that type of style resulting in one of the worst defenses in the country through two games, and a putrid offense. Their effective 2-point field goal percentage defense of 66.2 percent is third from the bottom in all of college basketball. Get ready Chris Cokley.

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Freshman De’Monte Buckingham is leading the team with 15.5 points per game, and freshman point guard Jacob Gilyard is just a hair behind with 15.0 per game. I’m curious to see how we’ll fare against the freshman big man Grant Golden who is quite the load at 6-foot-10 and 260 pounds.

Richmond has hit just 8-of-40 3-point attempts in their first two games compared to UAB’s 22-of-64 through three. UAB has five player’s scoring in double figures compared to Richmond who has just two. The Blazers will have the advantage at nearly every position and facet of the game.

Blazers 5 Keys To Victories

UAB will have to beat themselves to lose this game, and should advance to play what will likely be a top 10 Cincinnati team on Tuesday.

  1. Early and often we’ll need to convert Richmond turnovers into fast break points. UAB is still hashing out their half-court offensive flow so some timely steals and electric finishes on the other end will be key to keeping the momentum our way.
  2. Stay out of foul trouble — specifically Scootie and Cokley. We’re familiar with Cokley’s trouble with fouls over the last three season, and in a small sample size we’ve seen Scootie have some issues as well due to his aggressive on-ball defense. Our margin of error is much thinner with Cokley who needs to play near 25 minutes per game this season. Because of our guard depth we can sort of gamble with Scootie’s aggressiveness, but we can all agree we are at our best when he is on the floor causing havoc for major minutes.
  3. Getting William Lee involved early in this tournament is critical. No matter who we play after Richmond we’re almost certain to face much more formidable front courts. I liked his outside-in game he played against LeMoyne, especially when Cokley and Gueye/Sullivan are on the court with him. If we want to win this tournament we need Lee in double figures and defending at an elite level at the rim.
  4. Getting our guards to attack the rim early and often may be our strongest offense. Scootie, Lavender, Darling, and Perry all are very good at getting to the basket and either drawing fouls or finishing. We need to be attempting and converting free throws somewhere near the top 20 in the country with this roster.
  5. Let Cokley eat early and often. Against Richmond Cokley should have a monster game given their youthful front court. I’m very anxious to see how the senior performs against one of the longest, deepest, and most experienced front courts in the country in Cincinatti on Tuesday. Let’s get through the Spiders first though.