Richmond’s Complementary Backcourt Key to Successful SeasonPosted by Lathan Wells on November 12th, 2013
Lathan Wells is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Richmond vs. Belmont game on Monday night in Richmond.
The University of Richmond’s Robins Center recently underwent a $17 million renovation designed to reinvigorate a fan base and continue to make the Spiders one of the most difficult schools to play in their building in any league. After defeating Belmont on Monday night, 69-61, Richmond has now won 39 of its last 46 home games against non-conference foes. It was the second straight close, gritty home win for head coach Chris Mooney’s team, the kind of win largely made possible by the dependable guard play that will need to be a hallmark for this Spiders this year.
Though both are upperclassmen guards, senior point guard Cedrick Lindsay and sixth man Kendall Anthony have very different games that perfectly complement each other. Lindsay is excellent at getting to the basket, using his quick first step and strength around the basket to make plays happen around the rim. He is also the unquestioned leader of this team, helping to keep the youngish Richmond team even-keeled in times of pressure. Anthony, a diminutive junior at only 5’8”, provides instant energy off the bench and helps to make for a more frenetic pace that can unnerve opponents. While Anthony’s height may be a detriment when attacking the hoop, he more than makes up for it by slashing and kicking out to waiting Spider shooters on the wing. Anthony is also adept at finding creases in opponents’ zone defenses to launch his long-range shot (not a beautiful stroke, but an effective one that keeps defenses honest). When both are on the floor together, which is often, their styles help to push the pace when opportunities present themselves (spearheaded by the speed of Anthony) and also slow things down and run the half-court offense, a specialty of Lindsay’s. Together, they make the Spiders a well-rounded team not willing to be pigeon-holed into a methodical, easy-to-prepare-for Princeton offense.
Each player has confidence to have the ball in his hands at critical moments, and having two guards with that demeanor is enormous for a team predicted to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10. While Anthony’s clutch free throws in the first game versus Delaware with two seconds left helped the Spiders clinch a two-point win, Lindsay was the one calmly splitting full-court traps and knocking down crucial shots from the charity stripe down the stretch in the game versus Belmont tonight. In each game, Richmond had squandered a sizable late lead, and in each game the guards calmly righted the ship. If a young frontcourt (senior Derrick Williams is the only upperclassman who sees major minutes in the post) is going to come along slowly for Richmond, the backcourt is going to need to provide a steadying force with consistent production.
Thus far, both Anthony and Lindsay have delivered in the clutch and helped a Spiders team trying to make it back to NCAA Tournament play after a mediocre season earn important non-conference victories early on. Last season’s Spiders were immeasurably better at home than on the road (they were 15-2 at the Robins Center but only 4-13 in hostile territory). Winning on the road becomes easier when your leadership comes from sound veterans, especially those who often initiate the offense and help dictate things defensively with smothering on-ball pressure. If Richmond wants to make some noise in the A-10 and punch a ticket to a meaningful postseason tournament this year, the leadership from Lindsay and Anthony in the backcourt will undoubtedly take them there. As the frontcourt matures, this will be a more balanced team that will hopefully have the ability to play inside-out. In the interim, the consistent leadership and different yet coalescing styles of their two backcourt upperclassmen should help the Spiders start to build a solid foundation in 2013-14.