They were playing fantastic basketball. They were one of the hottest teams in the country. Despite a loss to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the fortunes were still looking good for what became the seventeenth best team in the nation, but that changed fast.
The University of Rhode Island Rams won two games after their division one leading streak was snapped. With those wins came the team’s first ever conference title in the Atlantic-10, and not much good after that.
Senior night came around, and it was an emotional night. Coach Dan Hurley, who was named the A-10 coach of the year, found his success with the university because of the team’s current seniors. EC Matthews, Stanford Robinson, Jarvis Garrett, Andre Berry, and Jared Terrell all played a large role in the team’s success, and wanted to go out on top.
That should have been easy. They were facing a St. Joseph’s team that looked like they would not have a postseason beyond the conference tournament. They were playing in front of the Rhody Ruckus, and hadn’t lost a game at home all season.
They scored sixteen points in the first half.
There was no coming back from that. They were crushed. At home. By a team that was much worse than them. They couldn’t hit three-pointers, and they couldn’t get anything going at all. They lost 78-48.
It’s understandable. The URI team needed to continue winning games for tournament seeding purposes, but after clinching the conference, they might have lost some of their fight. They might have been over confident. They might have been a little too distracted by the emotions of senior night. As long as they wouldn’t let losing become a habit, it would be okay.
Davidson was the next game on the schedule, and the team traveled South to take on Steph Curry’s old school. The team is good, but not likely to find themselves in the big dance in a couple weeks.
It was a close and competitive game. The Wildcats were able to take advantage of defensive mistakes by the Rams. As the URI team used their four-guard one big man combo in a zone defense, Davidson was able to get a lot of men open beyond the arc. Wide open. Forward Andre Berry, who was the only man playing underneath the basket, had to leave the paint to attempt to close in on the shooter. There were generally three results to this. Davidson either made the three pointer, missed the three but were able to get offensive rebounds because the only URI player underneath had to guard the perimeter, or they passed the ball to wide open players beneath the basket.
The game was close in its entirety. The University of Rhode Island led by four points with just sixteen seconds left in the game. They blew it.
Luckily, the team still managed to stay ranked, falling to be the 25th team in the nation. The A-10 tournament is underway and they are the highest seed. With a bye in the first two rounds, URI will face the winner of today’s [Thursday’s] game between VCU and Dayton, who respectively are the eight and nine seeds.
The University of Rhode Island Rams will play their first tournament game on Friday at noon.
Tyler’s Tickets to Rhode Island Victories
Dance with Dan: As talented as any team is, successful college teams are led just as much by good coaches as they are good players. Dan Hurley needs to make sure the team does not mentally defeat themselves as they prepare for the big dance that starts later this month. The team has a lot of veterans. They have faced adversity over the years. They are in the tournament no matter what. But Dan Hurley will have to get his boys to forget about the recent failures if they will find success.
Perimeter Presence: They couldn’t hit three pointers against St. Joe’s. They looked awful. They played atrocious defense against Davidson from beyond the arc. As they play in tournaments, teams will be playing with a lot more on the line. They’ll be playing better teams. Jeff Dowtin and Stan Robinson are very efficient defensive players. Fatts Russell can be a nuisance to opposing offenses. Defensively they have the solution. Offensively Matthews and Terrell are strong scorers, capable of doing a lot. Getting all of the pieces to work at once is necessary for them to recover.
Forty, Fellas: Throughout the Davidson game, URI looked okay. They were in a position to win. They coughed up a four point lead with only sixteen seconds left. Against St. Joseph’s, they barely even took the court during the first twenty minutes. They weren’t stars during the second half, but were a lot better than they had been before halftime. They aren’t going to be squaring off against any mediocre teams from this point on. To win, they’ll need to play their hearts out throughout the entire game, every game.
For more college basketball coverage, tune into Psycho Sports at 6 o’clock on Tuesday for a guest filled tournament preview.
Read More WBOB