With three games left on the Atlantic Ten docket, I feel confident stating the following: VCU, Davidson and Dayton will all end up in the top four of the conference. Before the season started, Saint Louis, St. Joe’s, Davidson and George Mason were picked to finish at the top of the league in the preseason, it seems that only Davidson will live up to expectations. The league has been equal parts unpredictable and terrible this season, and teams like VCU and Dayton have been the benefactors.
Rhode Island has had a disappointing roller-coaster of a season. The Kingston Rams come into tonight’s matchup with a 13-14 overall record, 6-9 in A10 play. URI started league play on a positive, getting out to a 4-2 mark with wins over VCU and Bonaventure. Then, like a Haitian skyscraper, it all came crashing down quickly. Since the win against VCU, Rhody has gone 2-7, a nosedive that included a loss to fucking Fordham. Did I mention that URI is the worst three-pointing shooting team in the nation? Not just the contiguous United States, we are talking Hawaii and Alaska as well. The Rams are knocking down just 26.6% of their three-point attempts. While Trey Landers would be like, “Oh, ok, pretty good,” I can assure you URI’s head coach, David Cox, is not smiling.
Here is where we provide Cox with some credit. While URI is certainly dog shit when it comes to three-point shooting, it isn’t a significant feature of their offense. URI attempts a mere 32.6% of their shots from deep, ranking them 319th/353. Rhode Island has adopted a simple maxim that everyone should adopt: “Stop doing shit you aren’t good at.” I’m assuming this sage advice was passed along from Cox to his players at some point this season. All of us should sit down with the people we care about and counsel them in the same fashion. Tell your brother his craft beer tastes like the inside of an Indian (red dot) man’s asshole after he was burned up in a car fire. Tell your wife to stop dancing in public. Instruct a stranger on the internet to stop his mid-major college basketball blog. If people just stopped doing things they weren’t good at, the world would be better off. This is the word according to Coach Cox.
Let’s quickly breakdown URI’s squad, shall we? Jeff Dowtin continues his rise as one of the league’s best guards. The junior leads Rhody in scoring, three-point shooting and assists. URI doesn’t exist without Dowtin, write that down. Cyril Langevine is an excitable kid, always jumping around, swatting shots, grabbing rebounds. Langevine is an overlooked member of the A10 basketballin’ community. He averages a double-double, is one of the more exciting bigs in the league and needs more recognition. Check him out next year, he’s fun.
I ripped into Fatts Russell on Thursday’s podcast, and I think my criticisms were valid. At the conclusion of last year it was Fatts’ world and we were all just living in it. He was exciting to watch, was tiny and had a great nickname, what more could you ask for? The answer to that, apparently, is really awful shooting. Russell is converting on just 31% of his shots from the field this season, knocking down a scant 19% from three — amazingly this hasn’t halted Fatts’ assault from behind the arc, as he is averaging a little over five attempts a game. Mercy. Freshman Tyrese Martin gives Cox a piece to build around over the next three seasons. He’s a nice sized wing that can do a bit of everything on the court. His birthday is on March 7th, so the Blackburn Review would like to extend him an early Happy Birthday.
Although the subject of UD’s record in conference Sockhops was raised on Thursday’s podcast, I never bothered to look it up. Still, my gut tells me that Dayton is undefeated on Friday nights in the Sweater Centre and I’m sticking to it (I choose not to remember the loss to Mississippi State). Tonight will be no different. Dayton pink-socked URI and took them outside for a old fashioned curb stomping just for good measure last time around. UD was completely dominant in that 77-48 victory, shooting 68% from the field and held the Rams to a dismal .79 points per possession.
The Flyers still have plenty to play for and it would seem that Rhody is simply playing out the string at this point. I expect plenty of Obi dunks, each one more record-breaking than the last, and easy buckets for Josh Cunningham. Tune in for the easy win, stick around for Langevine’s bounciness. Flyers 79, Rams 70.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.