Is the bottom about to fall out completely? Find out tomorrow at noon!
Make sure you vote for Archie in the Infiniti Challenge, whatever that is.
If there is one team in the Atlantic Ten that has been reeling worse than Dayton it’s the Rams of Rhode Island. This season, which held so much promise for Dan Hurley’s program, has been beset by injuries which have decimated URI’s preseason goals. Four of Rhode Island’s five opening night starters have missed significant time due to injuries; with Hassan Martin being the latest casualty (EC Matthews was lost for the season after an ACL tear ten minutes into URI’s opening game against American). Martin tried to give his ailing knee a go in Rhody’s loss at Davidson earlier this week, but it was clear that the junior forward was extremely limited physically. Martin, the two-time Atlantic Ten Defensive Player of the Year, has been shut down for the rest of the season.
Dan Hurley has managed to keep his team’s head above water, as the Rams are 15-13 on the year and 7-8 in conference play. Hurley has used the plague of injuries to better evaluate his underclassmen. Obviously this will set the table for next season, as URI will have Matthews, Martin, Garrett, Terrell and Iverson back for the 2016-17 campaign (as well as Indiana transfer Stanford Robinson). On paper, that’s about as formidable a fivesome as you will ever see in the Atlantic Ten. Until then, however, Hurley’s squad has to play out the string.
If you watched UD’s miraculous win over Rhody a few weeks ago, you already know what to expect from the Rams. They are a guard-oriented squad that shoots a fairly high percentage from behind the three-point line. URI plays at a very deliberate pace, often running the shot-clock down to five seconds before even considering getting a contested jumper up. Hurley’s team is not very experienced, has a short bench and is one of the smallest teams in the conference.
Defensively is where Rhode Island has typically kept themselves in games this season. A huge part of that effort was Hasan Martin, an elite shot-blocker who camps out in the paint. URI also puts an emphasis on guarding the arc — UD only got off ten three-pointers against the Rams, obviously below their season average (unfortunately, Rhody didn’t lock down on DURRELL on the Flyers’ last possession). I think it’s safe to say the Rams are going to really feel Martin’s absence as the season winds down.
With Rhody basically down to five full-time players and two guys who play sparingly, you would think Archie would mix in some traps and pressure to wear the Rams down. An introspective coach would probably do exactly that. But no, that’s not Miller’s style. He rarely takes advantage of these types of situtations, lazily relying on the status quo again and again. Regardless, let’s see if he pulls any fast ones against a severely depleted URI team on Saturday. It would be nice to see Archie actually employ some strategical tactics for a change.
Four McGlynn ran Kyle Davis ragged the last time these two teams met and even talked a little shit after he nailed a three-pointer late in the second half. Let’s see if KD steps up his defensive intensity on Saturday afternoon (we are all friends here, so I think we can discuss this freely – KD has been, at best, mediocre defensively this season). McGlynn snapped out of a shooting funk against Dayton but has been putrid since, shooting 17% from three in his past three outings.
Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garett form what should be a very formidable backcourt for the next few seasons. Garrett and Terrell have obviously benefited the most from EC Matthews’ absence this season, the two guards are the Rams’ leading scorers and are responsible for making the team’s sausage. Garrett, the masked man, is the better all-around player, the team’s best player with the ball in his hands. Terrell and Garrett combined for 27 points the first time around, the Rams will need a little more from them on Saturday afternoon.
Kuran Iverson and freshman Nicola Akele will likely get the nod as Rhody’s starting frontcourt. Iverson is finally back to playing major minutes after missing games with a concussion earlier in the month. He played just ten minutes against the Flyers two weeks ago but will certainly garner more court time in game two. It’s hard to project what exactly Rhode Island has in Akele. He is a rangy forward with some range, shooting 44% from three this year. However, he is physically weak and doesn’t provide the Rams with much on the boards. Akele will have to put on some mass if he is going to be a factor going forward.
Andre Berry, Earl Watson (and maybe Christion Thompson) are the main benchwarmers for Rhody. Berry is a big old boy who probably should be receiving dialysis treatments while he is on the bench. Watson is a well-built young man, a solid rebounder of the pine. Thompson didn’t travel to Davidson on Wednesday and is doubtful for Saturday.
Looking back at the game in Kingston, I think we all view it as a close win Dayton pulled out at the end. However, it may not have been all that close. Rhody shot 47% from three, but only 45% on the rest of their field-goal attempts. Meanwhile, we know Dayton struggles with turnovers and they certainly did on that day. They had 18 turnovers, accounting for 27% percent of their possessions, which is really high, even for UD. One would think Rhode Island’s shooting and Dayton’s turnovers would normalize a bit this time around.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s game, injuries seem to be the conversation driver for both teams. While Pollard’s contributions have been severely missed, Dayton plays some of the highest percentage of minutes with guys off the pine. 37.2% of Flyer minutes come from bench guys which is 52nd in the country. Rhode Island has had Hassan Martin all season and they still use some of the fewest minutes from their bench in the country. Only 25% of Ram minutes come from the bench WITH Martin. It will be very interesting to see how Dan Hurley manages his already short bench with Martin out for the season.
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Was feeling iffy about this one until the Martin announcement. With him out of the lineup the Rams are weaker than puppy piss inside. Big Steve should have ample opportunity to shine in this one and Dyshawn Pierre will cause a mismatch as well. Dayton gets back on track and wins 75-68.