Hey look, another NCAA team from last year! The Rams will host the University of Vermont tomorrow in what will be their fourth match-up against a team that made it to the Big Dance last year (Norfolk State, Ohio State, and Loyola (MD) were the other three). That means that after tomorrow the Rams will have played half of their games so far against elite squads from a year ago. As Dan Hurley said yesterday in his interview as part of the Rhody Basketball Radio Show, URI is either playing BCS schools or top-tier mid-major teams. If anything, it means that no one can accuse the Rams of playing a cupcake non-conference schedule this year.
University of Vermont and State Agricultural College (University of Vermont)
Location: Burlington, Vermont
Conference: America East Conference
2011-12 Record: 24-12 (13-3) [#16 seed in NCAA Tournament, lost in first round]
It was somewhat shocking that when we looked up “Cow College” in the dictionary, there wasn’t a picture of UVM. Come on, “State Agricultural College”? You can probably major in Farming there. But we digress…
The Catamounts come into this one with a 4-1 record, and have played teams from New England and New York exclusively so far. This will be their fifth road game in their first six contests, and a 3-1 road record thus far is certainly noteworthy. Their one home win was a 65-52 victory over Yale, and they’ve also recorded road wins over Sienna, Northeastern, and most recently Harvard. Not great teams, but not pushovers either. Vermont’s only loss came at the hands of the 23rd-ranked UConn Huskies, 67-49 in Storrs.
Projected Starting Lineups
G: Sandro Carissimo, Jr, #12, 6’2″, 170
G: Candon Rusin, Jr, #21, 6’4″, 190
F: Brian Voelkel, Jr, #1, 6’6″, 210
F: Luke Apfeld, Jr, #2, 6’7″, 215
F: Ethan O’Day, Fr, #32, 6’9″, 205
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Ryan Brooks, Sr, #33, 6’8″, 220
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205
Carissimo is the leading scorer for the Catamounts, thanks in large part to a 25-point game last time out against Harvard. Besides his 11.2 PPG, he is shooting 40% from the field, 42% from three, and an unreal 94% from the free throw line. He also mixed in 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game to go along with just 0.8 turnovers – a spectacular number for a point guard. Rhody has faced a number of solid PGs this season and done a pretty good job of limiting their production. Tomorrow will be no exception, so let’s hope the Rams can take care of business yet again.
Besides Carissimo, the Rams will also have their hands full with Luke Apfield tomorrow. The power forward is averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Like Carissimo, he also doesn’t miss from the line, averaging 95% from there on the season. And although he’s not a scorer, Brian Voelkel is another player to keep an eye on. Voelkel is the leading rebounder for the Catamounts, averaging 7.4 per game to go along with 4.4 points. Strangely enough, he also leads the team in assists with 4.2 per game. Normally a swingman is one of your scorers, but Voelkel seems to do the other things that help a team win games.
With all that said, this once again looks like a winnable game for the Rams. The key, as it’s been many times before, will be rebounding and hitting free throws. Munford staying hot can’t hurt either. Can the Rams can give the fans a win on their home court and move to 2-6 on the season? Stick with us tomorrow for updates throughout the game!