RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond men’s basketball saw a memorable season cut short in March of 2020, but by the looks of the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, many expect the Spiders to put together another one.
Chris Mooney and company were tabbed as conference favorites on Tuesday, receiving 19 of a possible 28 first-place votes. Saint Louis and Dayton rounded out the top three, while VCU was picked to finish ninth.
“We’re really pleased and proud to have been picked first in a great conference,” said Mooney. “We’ve been working hard for a long time to try to make that come true.”
While that may be the case, Mooney also added that his team is anxious to play and won’t pay too much attention to the poll.
“I think we’re still hungry because of what happened last year,” added senior guard Jacob Gilyard. “I don’t think we have any pressure on ourselves.”
Richmond finished last season 24-7, 14-4 in conference play, and was scheduled to return all five starters until Nick Sherod went down with a season-ending knee injury. Plenty of scoring options and weapons exist for the Spiders, however, led by Gilyard, a preseason all-league first team member, along with fellow seniors Grant Golden and Blake Francis, both of whom earned second-team honors.
VCU’s ninth place prediction comes after finishing in that spot to end last season, despite being picked to win the conference. The Rams wrapped up the campaign 18-13, 8-10 in the league, losing seven of its final eight contests. Bones Hyland pulled in preseason all-conference third-team honors.
Seven players who averaged at least 16 minutes per game return for VCU, which also adds transfers Levi Stockard and Brendan Medley-Bacon. Mike Rhoades saw a good bit of his roster depart, however, losing De’Riante Jenkins, Mike’l Simms, Marcus Evans, Issac Vann and Maliek Crowfield to graduation, as well as Marcus Santos-Silva, who transferred to Texas Tech.
Both the Spiders and Rams are slated to open up the season on the road in multi-team events. Richmond will begin at Kentucky, with VCU reportedly opening up at Tennessee.
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