The URI Rams fell to the Providence Friars for the third year in a row on Thursday night, dropping a 72-57 decision at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. In a game filled with disappointments, the Rams seemed to regress in a lot of areas. The most notable of those were turnovers and defense, two categories they have excelled in all season. So certainly there is a lot to work on, and the improvement we saw over the first eight games was not there on Thursday as Rhody turned in one of their worst performances of the 2012-13 campaign. There were a few positives, however, so let’s break down the bad as well as the good:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Jordan Hare – From an individual player standpoint, Hare was the lone bright spot in this one. The Freshman big man scored a team-high 14 points on a very respectable 6-7 shooting evening – and all six of his buckets were dunks. In addition to those high percentage shots, he went 2-2 from the line and grabbed three of the team’s six offensive rebounds. Hare also added to his nationally-ranked blocked shots total with three more swats as he continues to establish himself as one of the best young shot-blockers in the country. Aside from the blocks, his defense was a little shaky (more on that in a minute) as both Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton went absolutely nuts, but overall, another solid performance from a player who is continuing to develop.
2. Perimeter Defense – Although the final score was bad, it could have been much worse had the Rams not held PC to a paltry 2-15 (13%) shooting performance from three-point range. He was hobbled a bit late in the game, but Rhody did an excellent job defending Bryce Cotton and not allowing him to hit his outside shots, forcing him into a 1-6 performance from beyond the arc. Josh Fortune also shot a similarly bad 1-6 from deep, and they were the only two Friars to connect on three-balls.
3. Free Throw Shooting – Hey, whaddaya know! The Rams turned in an uncommonly strong performance from the charity stripe, burying 14-17 freebies, good for 82%. It’s clear that the coaches are working with these guys on their FT shooting and it seems to be paying off, so let’s hope this will become the rule rather than the exception.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Turnovers – Twenty. It can’t get much worse than that, especially considering the ball-control numbers that Rhody had put up coming into Thursday night. T.J. Buchanan was the only Ram with more assists than turnovers (1 to 0), and the disgusting part is that these numbers came against a primarily 2-3 zone! There really isn’t much else that needs to be said, but being that taking care of the ball is a priority for the Rams this season, they need to work out whatever issues occurred sooner rather than later.
2. Post Play – With the exception of Hare’s offense, this was another glaring weakness for URI. The Rams allowed the two Friar big men to put up 44 points and 24 rebounds on 49% shooting, and the URI defense down low was non-existent all evening. A Ryan Brooks elbow injury that limited him to just four minutes definitely factors into that, but between Hare and Aaman, there wasn’t a lot of great defense or rebounding. The Rams once again got killed on the glass, this time to the tune of 41-28, leading to 17 second-chance points for PC.
3. Xavier Munford – As Doc Rivers famously says about the NBA, it’s a “make-or-miss league”. The same can certainly be said about college hoops, and Munford had a night full of misses on Thursday. He shot just 3-13 from the field and 0-8 from three point range to finish with just 10 points. The A-10 scoring leader is no more following an extremely cold night, as X appeared to struggle with the zone defense the Friars threw at him.
This should hopefully be an easy game for Rhody to put behind them, as they did a lot of things poorly, and it frankly wasn’t close for most of the second half. If they’re amped up to bounce back… they’re going to have to wait. It’s exam week at the University, and Rhody will not play until Saturday afternoon. If anything, it gives them plenty of time to work on their issues.