The Loyola men’s basketball team (7-1) is without its top defender, as senior guard Ben Richardson went down with a broken hand against the University of Missouri-Kansas City Nov. 16. The earliest Richardson is expected to come back is Dec. 16.
Richardson is a force on defense and has the ability to make noise from three-point range, so his loss is huge for the Ramblers. In his absence, first-year center Cameron Krutwig has jumped into the starting lineup and first-year guard Lucas Williamson has seen more minutes on the court.
Head coach Porter Moser said he’s been preparing the team to step up and fill the void since news broke of Richardson’s injury and he was happy with sophomore guards Bruno Skokna and Cam Satterwhite responses to the news of a first-year getting more playing time.
“When we lost Ben, we were like ‘You know what? Lucas’ defense has been really darn good,’ so he got a shot,” Moser said. “I love how Bruno [Skokna] and Cam [Satterwhite] responded. [They] didn’t pout … they came in and contributed. That was a good mix. They’re all going to be key guys going forward, and I love how that played out.”
Moser compared Richardson’s injury to key injuries in the last two years. Two years ago, senior forward Montel James suffered a back injury prior to a game against former Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) champion Creighton University. Last year, Donte Ingram suffered a torn MCL in his left knee before a game against Mountain West Conference powerhouse San Diego State University.
Despite the injuries, Loyola won both games, and Moser said Richardson’s injury allows the “next man up” mantra to play a role down the stretch. With key games against the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Dec. 2 and the University of Florida Dec. 6 coming up before MVC play begins, Richardson’s absence could be even more impactful.
“I think just moving forward, we [have] to just get excited about ‘Hey, next man up,’” Moser said. “That was our mentality, [it] was ‘Next man up. We lost a key part of our group? Next man up.’”
Despite being unable to play, Richardson is still vocal on the sidelines. He said he learned from former guard Milton Doyle, who was one of the team leaders even when he was injured during his junior year, about how much of an impact he can have, even if he’s on the bench.
“[Milton] for sure was a big influence on me the last couple years … especially instilling confidence in other guys,” Richardson said. “That was something that he always did for me when he was injured and I was starting my first couple games. He always would instill confidence in me, so I try to do that with the younger guys.”
Redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer — Richardson’s roommate — said one of his goals while Richardson is out is to keep him upbeat while he’s off the court.
“I think the big thing for me is to keep Ben positive,” Custer said. “I live with Ben, so hopefully I can keep him upbeat over the next month, because obviously, when he comes back, we’re going to need him for conference season.”
Without Richardson, Loyola has posted a 4-1 record, with notable victories over Samford University, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Kent State University. The Ramblers are scheduled to take on UIC at Gentile Arena Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.