There is a reason Duquesne fans rarely chime in on the #FireChrisMooney conversations.
- Since taking the helm at Richmond, in 2005-06, Chris Mooney has beaten the Dukes thirteen times, losing only once. While his tenure has no doubt been disappointing over all the last five seasons or so, he has survived long enough to face four different coaches at Duquesne with only Ron Everhart managing to beat him.
Given that Danny Nee and Keith Dambrot have only faced him once, so I’ll leave them out of the why the Dukes have struggled conversation. Systems have changed over the years, but Richmond has has always presented the Dukes with match up problems. Everhart’s defense thrived on turning his opponents over with full court pressure. His offense also relied heavily on transition baskets resulting from steals. Richmond has taken great care of the basketball under Mooney. When the Dukes pressure failed under Everhart, often times, they struggled at both ends of the floor. On top of that, Everhart half court offense stalled against the grindy, match up zone defense ran at the time. While the Dukes had better or at least comparable teams in about half of the contests, Duquesne only managed one win the year after Spiders’ NCAA core graduated in 2012-13 under Everhart.
Jim Ferry coached teams were notoriously troubled defensively, and Richmond’s offense exploited the Dukes biggest weaknesses at the time. Most fans point to bad three point defense as the killer of Ferry during the Ferry years, and the Spiders certainly made the Dukes pay beyond the arc. In six wins over Ferry, they never shot worse than .364 from distance and in the last three matchups, they shot over .400 in each. The swiss cheese three point defense hinged around poor rotations, and court awareness, and ultimately, any team that passed the ball well picked Ferry teams apart. While they got torched from three against Mooney and company, they also couldn’t handle Richmond’s off the ball movement and back door cuts. As a result, the slow, grindy Mooney teams still averaged 83.3 points per game against Duquesne during Ferry’s tenure.
In Keith Dambrot’s first go, he at least took Mooney to overtime. The current coach might meet a hybrid of the problems his successors faced this go around. Like in the Everhart days, this year’s Dukes rely heavily on turnovers to win games. They force 16.9 per game good for seventeenth in country while Richmond has only coughed it up 10.8 per game or twentieth best in the country. Although only one Ferry holdover remains, the Dukes continue to get picked apart by good ball movement as evidenced by their 311th best A/FGM against ranking in the country. The Spiders are also twentieth in the country in A/FGM on offense.
I don’t think the Spiders are a particularly good team even if they have some good players. Don’t mistake that for an easy or even likely win. NJIT are a similar, albeit more talented, version of the Spiders and that didn’t go so well for the Dukes at home. If Mooney can exploit the weaknesses of this year’s Dambrot led team, the results likely won’t change. The Dukes will either need to break the Spiders down with pressure or cover the floor better than they have if they hope to start turning things around in this series. If not their best hope might be #FireChrisMooney.