Spider Sports
Rebecca Barry

Stick work

Tantalizingly close

The field hockey team brought a No. 16 national ranking and an 11-game winning streak to the A-10 championship game, but an 0-5 loss to University of Massachusetts kept them just outside the 16-team NCAA tournament.

Five Spiders were named to the A-10 First and Second All-Conference teams, and three made the All Rookie Team, including A-10 Rookie of the Year Taylor Dietrick. Senior Liesl Schnuck was named Academic All-Conference.

On Senior Day Oct. 21, sophomore Rebecca Barry juggled the ball with her stick to start a sensational goal that made ESPN Sportscenter’s top-10 plays of the day.

New leadership

Keith Gill named AD

At his introductory press conference, the University’s new director of athletics sported a crisp Richmond necktie as he summed up his mood: “It’s a great day to be a Spider.”

Keith Gill came to Richmond from American University, where as athletic director he oversaw a program that tallied 41 team and individual conference championships and 25 All-Americans. The program’s 250 athletes performed off the field, too, earning a combined 3.36 GPA last academic year.

A similar mix at Richmond—“competing our tails off to try to win championships” plus “making sure everyone gets a good education,” as Gill put it—is what made his new position, and necktie, so attractive, he said.

Tough call

Athletics mix changing

More than 1,300 fans came out on Senior Night Nov. 2 to watch the men’s soccer team take on 19th-ranked VCU. The final result of the tense, highly entertaining matchup—a 3-3 tie with 51 shots on goal between the two teams—was an afterthought for most of the crowd, which came out to support the team as it played the program’s last game.

In September, outgoing athletics director Jim Miller announced the University’s decision to elevate the men’s lacrosse program to Division I status and discontinue men’s soccer and indoor and outdoor track and field after the current academic year. On Oct. 29, the University named Dan Chemotti, offensive coordinator at 2012 national champion Loyola University Maryland, the first head coach of the new lacrosse team, which will begin play in the spring 2014 season.

Call it a mirror image. A Spider squad that finished 3-8 improved to 8-3 this season and earned a share of the Colonial Athletic Association Cup under first-year coach Danny Rocco. Eleven players earned All-CAA honors. After the final game—a 21-14 thriller over WiIliam & Mary to take back the Capital Cup—junior wide receiver Ben Edwards spoke about his new coach’s impact: “Coach Rocco is changing the culture around here starting the moment he stepped in. We just have completely changed our mindsets around here to a winning mindset and that’s what we have been able to do all season.”

Men’s basketball celebrates 100th season

Just 22 years after James Naismith invented basketball, the University of Richmond assembled its first men’s team. To help commemorate this 100th season for Spider hoops, we compiled highlights decade by decade.

Keith Gill

A UR vs. UVA game ball, circa 1920s

1913–14 to ’22–23

On Dec. 4, 1913, the basketball Spiders take the floor for the first time ever against the Richmond Howitzers, a military unit, falling 40-12. The first intercollegiate game played in Richmond is a 38-16 victory over Hampden-Sydney College Jan. 31, 1914. A report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch reads: “Basketball, by the enthusiasm displayed last night, has come to stay at Richmond College.”

1923–24 to ’32–33

Frank Dobson, the father of Spider basketball, closes out his basketball coaching career Feb. 25, 1933, with a 50-40 victory over Randolph-Macon College and a 168-112 overall record. “Dobbie,” who also coached the baseball and football teams, guided his basketball squads to four state championships. At times they seemed invincible, winning 21 straight in one stretch.

1933–34 to ’42–43

Coach Malcolm Upshur “Mac” Pitt’s 1934–35 team goes 20-0, the Spiders’ only undefeated season. The winning streak stretches back to the previous season and into the following season for a total of 24 games, the longest winning streak
in school history.

1943–44 to ’52–53

On Feb. 3, 1953, the powerful North Carolina Tar Heels come to town as heavy favorites to play UR in the Benedictine High School gym. In one of Richmond’s most thrilling victories, the Spiders win 87-82 in double overtime behind Warren Mills’ 17 points. A two-time All-State player, he will become the first Spider player to have his uniform number, 23, retired.

1953–54 to ’62–63

Coach Lester Hooker’s 1953–54 team posts a 23-8 record and marches to an undefeated record in 10 games against Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, University of Virginia, and Washington and Lee University, taking the Commonwealth’s “Big Five” title.

1963–64 to ’72–73

After a middling decade, Spider basketball is transformed when the new, state-of-the-art Robins Center opens in December 1972. A little more than two months later, the Spiders foreshadow better years ahead by beating heavily favored Virginia Tech 94-93 in double overtime. Aron Stewart scores 41 points and finishes the season with a 30.2 scoring average, fourth best in the country.

Bob McCurdy was the nation's leading scorer in 1975.

1973–74 to ’82–83

Bob McCurdy scores a UR-record 53 points in a 101-97 double-overtime win over Appalachian State Feb. 26, 1975, and leads the nation in scoring with a 32.9 average for the season. McCurdy still has six of the top 11 scoring nights in UR history.

1983–84 to ’92–93

1983–84 Spiders

Coach Dick Tarrant’s Spiders make the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen in 1988 after upsetting fourth-seed and defending champion Indiana Hoosiers and fifth-seed Georgia Tech. Tarrant’s teams were giant killers, knocking Charles Barkley’s Auburn team out of the 1984 tournament and becoming the first 15 seed to knock off a two seed by beating Syracuse 73-69 in the 1991 tournament. 1986 graduate Johnny Newman becomes (and remains) the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,383 career points; his No. 20 jersey is retired.

Kevin Anderson hits the game-winning shot against Vanderbilt in 2011.

1993–94 to ’02–03

After the program struggles, new coach John Beilein turns things around in the 1997–98 season with an opening 83-79 double-overtime win over Virginia, a 23-8 record, the program’s 1,000th victory, the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship, and more giant killing as the 14th-seeded Spiders upset third-seed South Carolina 62-61 in the NCAA tournament.

2003–04 to present

In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, coach Chris Mooney’s 12th-seeded Spiders shock another high seed, this time Vanderbilt, on their way to another Sweet Sixteen. It is the fifth time in program history that the Spiders pull off an upset as a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament. Senior Kevin Anderson finishes his career with 2,165 points, second on the all-time scoring list.

Randy Hallman

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