Rhode Island basketball prepares to say “Aloha,” tipping off in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu against Bucknell on Saturday.
Since their loss to Providence College in the rivalry game, Rhode Island has been lights out- winning two games away from the Ryan Center against Holy Cross and West Virginia. In those two, they’ve outscored their opponents 162-133 while pulling down 81 rebounds. Between the scoring of their backcourt and the dominance of their front court, David Cox’s Rams look as if they’re about to hit their stride in time for a few quality wins in Hawaii.
Ever since Jeff Dowtin said he’d take the blame for the tough loss at Providence, he has done his part as a captain to ready the troops. In the wins over Holy Cross and WVU, Dowtin has 36 points on 14-for-27 shooting with 11 assists, earning himself Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors. His partner-in-crime in the backcourt, Fatts Russell, has been impressive as well.
After having just 10 points combined against Brown and PC, Russell has had 37 in the last two contests. While he still struggles to hit from deep, Russell has been consistently getting to the rim and the line, shooting 17 free throw attempts over the past two games. Dowtin leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.8 points a game while Russell contributes 13.1 per outing.
Christion Thompson and Tyrese Martin have been impressive, as well. After scoring a career high eight points at Providence, he’s followed it with eight at Holy Cross and seven against WVU at Mohegan. Thompson was one of five scorers in double figures in the win over West Virginia, with 12, and had five against Holy Cross.
Weeks before conference play has started, Cyril Langevine has built a reputation as the best big man in the A-10. He’s tied for ninth in the nation in double-doubles, and is first in the nation in offensive rebounds per game. Before having 15 points and six boards in the Holiday Showcase against WVU, he was on a streak of six straight double-doubles. In comparison, he had just six double-doubles in his first two years of college basketball. On the season, Langevine is averaging 15.6 points and 10.2 boards per outing, second on the team in scoring.
Aside from Langevine, freshman Jermaine Harris is transitioning nicely after struggling in the first few games. He broke out against Brown, with 15 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting. He was impressive again against West Virginia before fouling out, tallying 11 points and going 4-for-6 from the field. As Langevine continues to shine and Harris continues to improve, the Rams look to have promise in both the front court and back court.
Although Dan Hurley may have left, URI has kept their identity- their defense. They force over 15 turnovers per game, and ran up and down the floor against West Virginia with their speed. The Rams are second in the nation in defensive three-point field goal percentage, and 43rd in defensive field goal percentage. They held both West Virginia, Holy Cross and Providence to 60 points or less, and have averaged 7.5 steals per game. Their defense has kept them in a lot of games, and won several games for them. Not only does it hold their opponent’s scoring, but it creates offensive chances for the Rams and has been a staple of their last few victories.
The Rams go up against Bucknell on Saturday, and will play either TCU or Charlotte the following day with their third game coming on Christmas Day. Rhody is in a position for three quality wins before coming back for a home game against Middle Tennessee, closing out their non-conference schedule. Rhode Island opens up conference play on Jan. 6 in St. Louis.
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