Florida Versus Richmond Preview

When Florida scheduled Richmond, they knew it was going to be a challenging game.


The Spiders are a perennially feisty Atlantic 10 team that often finds themselves in at-large consideration, and as Florida looked to schedule intelligently in a way that would boost their computer metrics it made a lot of sense to get this game together. From an analytical standpoint, it also made a lot of sense to put this game in Sunrise, Florida–making it a neutral site game in the eyes of the NCAA. That means that when Florida (5-3) and Richmond (5-3) tip-off in the Orange Bowl Classic Saturday the game will have more benefit to the winning team and less penalty to the losing team. Analytically minded staffs are starting to schedule in this way and the Gators will hope to get a win that gets an extra boost in the metrics based on where it was played.


Getting a win won’t be an easy task as Richmond is a veteran, savvy team that plays some of the highest IQ basketball in the nation. According to KenPom they are 23rd in the country in experience and their starting lineup of four seniors don’t get intimidated in any matchup. So far this season the Spiders have yet to put up a major win with their biggest victory coming over UNLV–though it was an impressive 17-point drubbing on a neutral floor. They have played two high-major opponents, Boston College and Colorado, and they lost both in disappointing fashion when they didn’t play to their regular level of focus and energy. Since those two losses they have flipped a switch and are playing much better basketball, led by a crisp offensive performance that the Spiders have been perennially known for.


Leading the way for Richmond is 6’0 guard Jordan King who has sneakily been one of the best transfers in the country this season. King was a big-time scorer last year for East Tennessee State and when he entered the transfer portal it was expected that he would get a lot of high-major offers. However, whether it be his size or the fact that ETSU wasn’t a big winner, he didn’t get the offers that dominant mid-major scoring guards normally get. He landed at Richmond and has been lighting it up averaging 21.0 points and 2.3 assists per game making him one of the highest scorers in college basketball this young season. A three-level scorer, King is dangerous from everywhere on the floor and he’ll take whatever a defense gives him and turn it into points. Shooting 50% from three he’s a threat once he passes half court and when defenses crowd him he’s able to use his compact frame to slither into the paint and finish creatively. Florida will have to be keenly aware of his ability to score, particularly on the bookends of possessions. King will look to score early and if nothing is there he’ll give up the ball and let his team get through their offensive progressions and if nothing is there he’ll command the ball at the end of the shot clock and make something happen. 


While King might be the most explosive scorer on the Spiders and a guard–he’s actually not his team’s lead playmaker. That would actually be Neal Quinn, a 7’0”, 260 pound center who leads the Spiders in assists at 4.1 per game and actually has the ball more than anyone in the half court. It’s not normal for a 7’0” behemoth to be the lead playmaker for an offense, but Richmond is no ordinary offense. The Spiders play a beautiful brand of Princeton offense where they will throw it into Quinn at the high post or in the trail three position and then get into different off-ball screening actions. Quinn’s pinpoint passing ability allows this offense to run smoothly, and it can be a very difficult offense to guard. 


Florida will run variations of this offense so they won’t be surprised by the two-man actions away from the ball referred to as “split action” or “split cuts” but the pace and precision at which Richmond runs them is unmatched, and it’s the kind of offense that still works even when a defense knows it’s coming. For an offense that has so much passing and cutting the Spiders are incredible with ball security. They are currently first in the country in offensive turnover rate–meaning they turn the ball over less than anyone. On the other end of the spectrum, Florida is currently 201st in the country after a poor ball control game against Merrimack.


Richmond’s issues are largely related to the fact they are not a particularly athletic team. They have largely punted on offensive rebounding because of it, and you’ll see them head back on defense the moment a shot goes up as they would rather try to get set defensively than pursue extra possessions on the glass. They also haven’t been great on the defensive glass and considering that offensive rebounding is Florida’s biggest strength this could be an issue for them. Defensively the veteran Spiders are tight with their rotations and they won’t break down, but they don’t have the athletes or size to really suffocate opponents. 


The Spiders are currently 80th in the NET so this wouldn’t necessarily be a massive win for the Gators or a detrimental loss, but given the fact that they have let some non-conference games slip that they’d like to have back, this is the type of game they need to win.


Florida and Richmond tip off December 9th at 4 PM ET and it will be televised on SEC Network.

Eric Fawcett
Eric is a basketball coach and writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His work has been found at NBA international properties, ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @ericfawcett_.