The Rhode Island Rams are right back in action tomorrow afternoon as they head on the road to try and pick up their second conference win of the season. They’ll be facing a, um… not-so-good Atlantic 10 team, but with all the craziness going on in conference play (A-10 and otherwise), Rhody can’t take anything for granted. The URI Rams should open up as favorites in this one, however, so let’s take a look at what need to happen for Rhody to come away with a win.
Location: New York, New York
Conference: Atlantic 10
2012-13 Record: 5-14 (1-3)
Despite being right in the middle of a basketball hotbed in the Bronx, Fordham can never seem to get over the hump. The “other Rams” are off to another poor start, logging only five wins over their first 19 games. In fairness, they’ve played a pretty decent schedule to date, and a few of their losses are nothing to be ashamed of. Fordham has dropped games to quality opponents like Pitt, St. John’s, UConn, and Ole Miss. However, they’ve also dropped games to the likes of Texas State, Manhattan, and Fairfield. The other Rams have snagged their five wins against a pair of Ivy League opponents (Penn and Princeton), as well as Siena, Monmouth, and Duquesne. Last time out they allowed Dayton to put up 96 points in a brutal 45-point defeat.
Projected Starting Lineups
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: Nikola Malesevic, Sr, #23, 6’7″, 200
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205
G: Branden Frazier, Jr, #1, 6’2″, 185
G: Mandell Thomas, Fr, #23, 6’2″, 185
G: Bryan Smith, So, #24, 6’2″, 200
F: Chris Gaston, Sr, #33, 6’7″, 231
C: Ryan Canty, So, #42, 6’9″, 243
First, we must note that big man Chris Gaston, Fordham’s best player by far, may not play in this one. He missed a month of the season back in November/December with a knee problem, and it acted up again this week, forcing him to not even make the trip for the Dayton game. The other Rams have gone 1-6 without Gaston in the lineup, so his impact cannot be understated. Despite the missed time, the senior is second on the team in scoring (14.0 points per game) and first in rebounding (8.0 per game). He has scored double-figures in nine of the 12 games he’s played in, and leads the team with four double-doubles on the season. If Gaston does indeed sit this one out, look for freshman Travion Leonard to take his spot in the lineup. Despite his size (6’8″, 275), Leonard is a significant downgrade, as he averages just 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
If Gaston sits, the player to keep an eye on will be Branden Frazier. Even though it’s not the same guy that starred in The Mummy, Frazier is scary nonetheless. The junior point guard leads the team in scoring at 15.8 points per game, and is also tops in assists with a 5.2 average. He has posted double-figures in an amazing 15 of 19 games this season, including a pair of double-doubles. Both of his double-doubles came in Fordham victories, so Rhody needs to try and limit not only his scoring, but they’ll also need to try and clog up passing lanes. It can be done, as Frazier is averaging three turnovers per game. As a team, Fordham commits 17 turnovers per game on average, so URI needs to try and exploit that with their tough defense.
Fordham does have 14 players that see decent minutes, so fatigue could become an issue for Rhody. URI can’t afford the foul trouble they experienced last time against a deep team like the other Rams. If Rhode Island can have the same players contributing on offense that they had against GW, they should have a good shot at snagging a victory. Let’s face it, Fordham has trouble scoring and they have trouble defending. Rhody needs to take advantage to pick up a big W tomorrow afternoon.