RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Richmond begins the second half of Atlantic 10 play, the Spiders are getting a big boost for the stretch run.
Exactly four weeks after suffering a fractured sternum, Blake Francis will return to the Richmond line-up when the Spiders visit Fordham on Saturday, head coach Chris Mooney said during his weekly media availability on Friday. Francis went down during Richmond’s home game against Saint Louis on January 11.
“He looks good,” said Mooney. “It takes more than a couple of workouts or a practice to have your timing and the overall feel of your legs, but given that he’s been out for awhile I think he looks very good.”
Francis was averaging 17.6 points through the first 16 games when he went down, at the time good enough for fourth in the Atlantic 10. He also provides a defensive intensity that can definitely give the Spiders some pop in a crucial February.
“To have him back is a great change of pace for us,” Mooney added. “I think we did well without him, but I think having him back, and now to have both Jacob Gilyard and Blake Francis, those are two really difficult guys to defend, especially if you can’t just focus on one of them.”
Mooney also said that he does not expect Francis to be on any sort of minute restriction.
The Spiders went 4-2 during their stretch without Francis, suffering back-to-back losses to then-No. 7 Dayton and at VCU.
“I think the two game that we lost without him, Dayton and VCU, I think there were huge runs in those games by both of those teams where we really could’ve used a bucket that he’s probably the only person on our team capable of making," said junior forward Grant Golden,"whether it’s a contested three or getting to the basket, as good as he is at that.”
Richmond is 6-3 in league play with nine games remaining on its schedule. The Spiders are currently tied for fifth in the A-10 as they enter a two game road swing, before returning home for a rematch with VCU next Saturday.
Richmond and Fordham tip off on Saturday at 2:00.
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