We’re finally in the homestretch.
As we reach a point where only tens of days separate us from the start of college basketball, teams are getting to where they’re putting the finishing touches on their preparation. The last thing they could ever hope for is a wrench to be thrown into their plans.
Unfortunately, that was the case for the Richmond Spiders.
On Tuesday, Richmond announced that Khwan Fore would be out for four to six weeks due to a stress reaction in his left tibia. This shin injury to the redshirt junior really could not come at a worse time for Chris Mooney and the Spiders. He and his staff have certainly spent all spring, summer, and fall attempting to plan for their first season after the departure of both ShawnDre’ Jones and 2017 A-10 Player of the Year T.J. Cline.
Part of the strategy for adapting to life without their two highest scorers was no doubt relying on skilled returnees like Fore and sophomore De’Monte Buckingham. After all, these two were pivotal on a team that finished fourth in the A-10 last season.
With Fore sidelined, Richmond is essentially going to place all of its collective hopes on the shoulders of Buckingham, who was named to the preseason second team all-conference. He’s obviously a talented player who’s capable of carrying such a burden, but this is still a tall ask for a sophomore guard.
If Fore is out for the six weeks that are within the timetable presented, he will be missing out on some of Richmond’s most crucial non-conference matchups. If gone until around Dec. 8, Fore would have to skip a trip to Wake Forest, home matchups with Georgetown and Vermont, and the Cayman Islands Classic (the Spiders would for sure play UAB and either Buffalo or Cincinnati).
Many of these games were already going to be exceptionally tough for a Spiders’ roster that lacks depth after being depleted by graduations. However, it wouldn’t have been too crazy to say they could have stolen a win against some of those teams (one would be quite tempted to take them at home over Georgetown).
Without Fore, it’s difficult to say if they’ll be able to truly compete in any of them.
Now, Fore should be back in time for the last few games of the non-conference slate—this includes a showdown with mid-major darling Bucknell—but there is a good chance that a positive season will be out of reach by then.
The only thing truly working to Richmond’s advantage is that the A-10 is remarkably weak this season, with so many traditional powerhouses projected to be in a slump. With many saying that only one league team will make the NCAA tournament this year, there is certainly room for a dark horse to find its way into the top four of the conference.
However, Richmond was already predicted to finish eight in the league at A-10 Media Day, and that was with Fore’s health still intact. For a team trying to piece things together in their first season in a while without T.J. Cline, this injury was the last thing they wanted—and the timing couldn’t have been much worse.