Sweet 16 Matchups: Chris Mooney Leads the Cinderalla Richmond Spiders Down to the River Walk to Face the Mighty Kansas JayhawksMarch 22, 2011 – 8:50 am by Michael Bean
Pound for pound, the spider — or certain species at least — is one of the deadliest creatures on earth. Through the first ‘three’ rounds of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Richmond Spiders are certainly packing that type of unexpected yet undeniably impressive punch. Richmond, the No. 11 seed in the Southwest Region, is on to the Sweet 16 after stunning Vanderbilt in their opening round game, then easily dismantling No. 14 seeded Morehead State on Saturday to advance to the semi-final of the Southwest Region in San Antonio. Richmond’s head coach Chris Mooney should be enjoying the moment, but unlike their counterpart, VCU from, just a few miles up the road who plays No. 10 seeded Florida State on Friday, the road gets frighteningly more tough for Richmond. Top seeded Kansas awaits the Spiders down along the River Walk this coming Friday.
Mooney joined Tony Bruno on Into the Night on FOX Sports Radio to talk about the remarkable fact that two teams from the city of Richmond — both the Spiders and the Rams of VCU — are in the Sweet 16, how it’s even more special that both are traveling down to San Antonio for the next round, the Princeton-style of offense that his team plays (Mooney is a Princeton product), why that style of offensive attack isn’t just reserved for non-athletic outclassed teams, his views on the Big East’s struggles in this year’s March Madness, and his take on the Spiders’ next opponent, the might Jayhawks from the University of Kansas.
On the remarkable fact that two Richmond-area teams (VCU as well) are in this year’s Sweet 16:
“Yeah it really is. VCU is probably five or six minute drive from the University of Richmond. And for two teams to be going to the Sweet 16, let alone we’re both going to the San Antonio region, it’s really just an amazing thing.”
On the Princeton-style offense that his teams runs and how it’s no longer looked down upon so universally as more teams beyond just the non-athletic Ivy League types find ways to be successful with it:
“No, not at all. I think in years past before John Thompson took over at Georgetown, or other coaches had success that were part of our family, I think people got the idea that Princeton was this slow down, milk the clock offense and that’s because you would see Princeton on television and they would be playing UCLA or Georgetown or Kansas. And of course, if you had Princeton’s players you would slow the game down also. So I think now people see it with different interpretations. We’re a pretty good transition team. John Thompson and Georgetown, they really run. I think like anything else, I think there are many variations of how you can take the fundamental principles and apply them.”
His take on the Big East’s struggles in this year’s tournament:
“Well I think it’s more probably what you said about how competitive it is night in and night out during the course of the season. I think once you get to March, you have games where literally anything can happen. For example, the Pitt-Butler game, that game changed dramatically twice in the last two seconds. I think that has a little bit more to do with whether you’re eliminated or not. I just think if there is anything, I think it’s how physical and demanding that conference is during the course of the season. And when they get to the NCAA Tournament, dramatically different style of play in the NCAA Tournament; I think they probably call it a little bit more closely than they do in their conference. They’ve had such a grinding season to begin with.”
On Richmond’s tough Sweet 16 opponent, the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks:
“Well they’re just tremendous when you look at their stat sheet and some game film. I mean, they score so easily, they have so many great players. I think what’s most impressive is not only do they have great players, but they share the ball. It’s not a star system, they really pass the ball to one another. I think they lead the country in assists. So they’re a tremendous team, and for us it’s really going to be important to defend and not give them any easy baskets in transition. They score easily enough and they don’t need any help from us. So hopefully we’ll be able to control the game to a certain extent and defend them just the best we can.”
On if the city of Richmond is in any way favoring Richmond more than VCU or vice versa, or if the community is just going nuts in support of both schools as they head to San Antonio:
“Yeah I think No. 1 there’s a rivalry and we play every year, but I think there’s an appreciation for each other and a kind of celebration that this is happening for us. VCU is a much bigger school, it’s a state university, while Richmond is a much smaller private school. But at the same time, I think we have a great number of fans, and they do, and right now on Monday, I think everybody is just really, really excited about both teams being in the Sweet 16.”
Listen here to Moody with Tony Bruno on Into the Night on FOX Sports Radio (interview begins at 23:30 mark)