A few things are abundantly clear, on this day in February, as I put finger-to-key to give you the recon for the Rams of the Ocean State: more people should’ve gone to jail for the Fyre Festival, a trip to the dentist is in my near future, and the Flyers really need a fucking win on Saturday in Kingston.
“Well, why Sully?”
Glad you asked.
With everyone at least 9 games into the A10 season entering the weekend, these are the five teams with any chance of winning the regular season (I’m being generous including DUQ and I updated this article after SLU lost to an abysmal St Joes team – SLU will not be winning shit this year). The games this weekend for teams not named Dayton look like this:
DUQ @ Fordham, VCU @ Bonaventure, LaSalle @ George Mason, Davidson @ UMass
So, essentially, Dayton is getting the toughest test of the weekend, SLU is completely out of the race, and the rest of the top will get favorable matchups to cruise into next week. If UD wants to realistically keep pace in the race for the conference, Saturday’s game @ URI is as close to a must-win as you could have in the early part of February. With that in mind, if UD is able to gut out a win, their path to the top is quite clear. Obviously UD will be losing the tiebreaker to Mason, so they need to get as far away from them as possible, but when you look up, VCU still has to come to the Sweater Center next Saturday for a pivotal tilt, and three days after that, UD will go down to North Carolina to take on Davidson. WHILE IT REMAINS UNLIKELY that UD would win all 3 of these games – if they do – they will be sitting just a game back of Davidson (barring a very possible upset), with tiebreaker in-hand for both VCU and Davidson. (Note: the second A10 tiebreaker, after head-to-head, is record against your best, common A10 opponent, which for UD/VCU, would be Davidson – VCU has already lost to DAV, so a UD win breaks that tie with the Richmond Rams. You follow? Ok, cool.)
So, Dayton doesn’t fully “control their own destiny”. They will need Mason/Davidson to drop a game or two for comfort, but you get it. The game is important, Rhode Island is mediocre, its a game UD absolutely can win. Let’s learn about the Rams from Rhode Island, who come into the game at 12-10 overall, (5-5 in the A10) good enough for 9th:
Gone is former URI coach, Danny Hurley, for a FAT payday in Storrs, CT to be the head coach of UConn. Unlike Archie Miller, Hurley was offered a boat load more money by a bigger program (to the tune of $2.75 million) and wisely cashed in his chips for the big payday you dream about when you start coaching college hoops. Left behind to clean up the mess, was first-time head coach, and former Hurley assistant, David Cox.
If you’ve been coming to this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard the names: EC Matthews, Jared Terrell, Stanford Robinson, Jarvis Garrett and Andre Berry. Well guess what? All those dudes are finally gone! URI’s own “Scoochie-Kendall-Kyle” class has finally moved on with the former coach (with over 70% of URI’s scoring in hand) and what you are left with is a roster that eerily resembles what Anthony Grant was dealt a year ago. They’re inexperienced, inefficient, inconsistent, and can’t shoot the three ball worth a shit. You think UD is bad at shooting the three-ball? Rhode Island’s perimeter shooting is uglier than a congressman in blackface. There are only two teams in Division 1 basketball who shoot the three worse than URI, they are currently 112-for-426.
The Rams are lead by their only returning starter, the overly flamboyant, Jeff Dowtin. After the departure of the aforementioned names it was widely believed (and has come to reality) that Dowtin would need to carry a considerable amount of the load for URI to be successful, and for the most part, he’s done just that. Dowtin leads the team in minutes (36), points (16), assists (3.8) and steals (1.6) per game, and is one of the very few experienced players on the roster. There has not been a single game this year where Dowtin hasn’t scored in double digits, I doubt Saturday will be any different.
The supporting cast is anchored by fellow junior, forward Cyril Langevine. Langevine is a decimal point shy of averaging a double-double this season (14.0pts, 9.9reb) and has proven to be the best rebounder in the conference (god help us). When he has the ball, there is no one better in the conference (statistically) at getting to the FT line, even if he does miss his fair share of bunnies near the rim. He’s the type of cold-blooded mf’er that will steal your lunch and ask for payment afterwards. He could have a big night if the struggles of UD’s interior defense continue.
Fatts Russell is probably the only other name the majority of UD fans will recognize, and he’ll work along side Dowtin at the other guard spot. Simply put, Fatts has the statistics that only a mother could love. Some men were simply not built to live this life. Since moving his way into the starting lineup this season, Russell has averaged more shot attempts than points, a truly abhorrent thing to say about a person. Of the top 100 qualified 3pt shooters in the Atlantic 10, Russell ranks at #100. Letting Russell shoot whenever the hell he wants should be at the top of any opponent’s defensive game plan. If they start going down, you can sleep easy knowing it just wasn’t your night.
The starting lineup is rounded out by the freshman duo of Jermaine Harris and Tyrese Martin. They’re about exactly what you would expect from two freshman in the starting lineup: 8pts/5reb a night for Martin and a respectable 4.6pts/3.1reb a game from Harris, usually the first man off the floor in favor of the smaller lineup including guard Christion Thompson – a man that refuses to live by social norms in regards to spelling. Martin has had a fairly impressive stretch in conference play – scoring double figures in 8 of his last 10 contests including a double-double against SLU (16pts/10reb) and 23 against lowly UMass. Martin scored five in URI’s last game, a loss to Davidson, so write me down as being on-record saying he will probably be the X-factor in the game to decide whether UD wins or loses this one.
Outside of the starting lineup, again, they are very similar to UD and run 8 total. The bench can’t hurt you, there is no possible way you’ll remember the names of those three guys even if I did write them down, so I won’t.
Frankly, the gameplan to beat URI is frustratingly similar to what I would tell an on-looker about UD: pack it in, make them shoot threes, force the coach to use the bench, limit the point guard, and you’ll walk away with a win. UD is fully capable of executing that game plan against this version of URI, and will certainly have the coaching advantage in this matchup, as well as the inside game, but something has stunk about this one since the moment I saw it on the schedule. UD can win, but I think they find a way to lose down the stretch when they need buckets.
I’m sorry I can’t bring more joy to your Friday, UD loses, 68-60.
Wear Red, be LOWD, feel free to come back tomorrow to remind me I was wrong.
The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.