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Archive for Saturday, March 26, 2011

Richmond’s web spins in defeat

March 26, 2011

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— Richmond coach Chris Mooney called three timeouts during the first 15 minutes Friday. None curbed the bleeding.

Indeed, no tourniquet was going to work during this NCAA Southwest Regional.

Kansas’ talent, size and depth were all that Mooney foreshadowed, and the Jayhawks cruised to a 77-57 victory, ending the Spiders’ tournament run and nine-game winning streak.

But give the Spiders this: Trailing 35-11 late in the first half, they could have bailed. They could have turned the game into an epic thrashing.

They didn’t. Kevin Anderson kept attacking, Kevin Smith still fought, and Justin Harper flashed his NBA potential.

Of course, they weren’t nearly enough against an offense that shredded Richmond’s zone from start to finish.

“Credit to them,” Anderson said. “They never let us back in the game.”

Seventeen times a No. 12 seed had played a No. 1 in a regional semifinal. Seventeen times the big dog had prevailed, most recently last year, when Kentucky bested Cornell 62-45.

The 18th time was not the charm for Richmond.

Here’s how grim was it for Richmond (29-8).

Midway through the first half, Kansas reserve Josh Selby hit corner three-pointers on consecutive possessions. Selby hadn’t made a three since the Big 12 quarterfinals and hadn’t made two in a game since Feb. 1.

Here’s how deep and versatile Kansas (35-2) is.

Later in the first half, 6-foot-9 reserve forward Thomas Robinson got caught in a defensive switch against Anderson, Richmond’s electric point guard. Anderson tried everything to shake Robinson off the dribble, but Robinson stuck.

Frustrated, Anderson forced a drive and shot. Robinson rebounded, rifled an Unseld-like (Google it, kids) outlet pass to Brady Morningstar and raised his arms like a champion boxer as Morningstar converted a layup for a 29-9 lead.

Robinson wasn’t the lone example of Kansas’ depth. Nine Jayhawks scored in the first half, seven had rebounds and six had assists.

For the game, Kansas’ bench outscored Richmond’s, 31-8, with Robinson contributing 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Spiders weren’t at their best, 33.8-percent shooting was their second-worst of the season because of Kansas.

The biggest issue, Mooney said prior to tipoff, was: “Can we defend Kansas?”

Understand, the Spiders aren’t defensive slouches. They rank 18th nationally in scoring defense, 11th in three-point percentage defense and 34th in shooting percentage D.

But Kansas boasts arguably the college game’s most complete offense. The Jayhawks lead the nation in shooting percentage and assists and rank sixth in scoring.

“Kansas is probably the most committed team I’ve seen at throwing the ball inside,” Mooney said.

Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris average a combined 31.2 points and 15.7 rebounds.

Mooney chose to zone the Jayhawks, and they made him pay, hitting 9-of-20 from beyond the arc.

Harper had 22 points and nine boards, but his teammates were a combined 13-of-47 (27.7 percent), no way to hang with an offensive power such as Kansas.

In the program’s only other Sweet 16 appearance, in 1988, Richmond lost to top-seeded Temple by 22 points. Friday you knew instantly the Spiders were in for a similar evening.

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