Souleymane “Sal” Koureissi powered through a defender to score Saturday. This caused the loudest roar of the evening among those in the University of Richmond bench area.
The bucket by Koureissi, a 6-foot-9 reserve forward from Harlem, N.Y., wasn’t pivotal within the game frame. His only field goal in nine minutes played gave UR a 49-36 advantage early in the second half over visiting Duquesne, defeated 79-72. Richmond’s ability to efficiently close out the Dukes, after they surged ahead during the last seven minutes, headlined the victory.
But teammates enthusiastically recognized Koureissi’s low-post basket, converted despite significant physical resistance from a team known for its interior muscle. It was another step forward for a developing Spiders junior who has made some this season, and lines up as a major part of the UR hoops future.
“I think with more time and opportunity, it’s great, because I get to show those things off,” said Koureissi, who saluted Jay DeMayo, Richmond’s strength-and-conditioning coach, for training guidance and support.
All winter-sports athletes were granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, because of the pandemic, so Koureissi could be at UR for two more seasons.
The long and lean Koureissi continues his quest to add the bulk necessary to become an enhanced inside threat against heavier A-10 opponents, and there are many. Strength gains typically bring increased confidence.
Koureissi said he arrived at UR weighing 185 pounds “soaking wet.” He now weighs 210 and would welcome another 10.
The Spiders (12-5, 5-3 A-10), who host Massachusetts (7-4, 6-2 A-10), on Tuesday at the Robins Center (6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), need steady interior depth that can provide quality minutes during rests for 6-10, 255-pound senior Grant Golden, or step in when Golden experiences foul problems.
UR coach Chris Mooney has turned to Koureissi and Matt Grace, another 6-9 junior, with varying results. It’s impossible to miss that neither Koureissi nor the 230-pound Grace is Golden in terms of body type and on-the-block force potential.
“I feel like it’s not the same thing, but both me and Matt are able to use our tools in different ways when we get in the post to create opportunities for us,” said Koureissi, who played on the perimeter and inside during his high school career at Iona Prep. “It’s not the same exact thing [as Golden], but it gets the job done.”
Three of Koureissi’s 14 field goals this season were 3-pointers, a reflection of his versatility.
UMass has not played since Feb. 6 because of coronavirus issues. Since Richmond came off its latest pause of two weeks, the Spiders beat Division III St. Mary’s (Md.), lost at VCU, and defeated Duquesne.
“We’re practicing better than we’re playing, which is a normal thing early in a season, or off a break like this, I think,” Mooney said. “We have a hard time sustaining it. Whether that’s a little bit [general reacclimation], or a little bit tired legs, or we put a guy because he has fresh legs but he’s not as in the flow …
“We need to catch up … We need to be better in the games. We need to just keep coming along.”