The highs and lows of this season have been pretty intense for Rhody fans. And after a high last weekend following a victory over St. Louis, the Rhode Island Rams experienced a plummet Saturday with a loss to the Fordham Rams as Rose Hill Gymnasium. The 66-63 loss was URI’s second straight, putting them at 1-4 in conference play and 6-12 overall. It was also Rhody’s third straight back-and-forth nail-biter, and while we’re sure cardiologists around Rhode Island are enjoying the influx of new business, URI’s quest for Brooklyn looks pretty bleak right now. Let’s see what the breakdown looks like:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. The Bench – 15 bench points from the reserves doesn’t seem like that much, but for a team that has struggled to find bench points this season, it was a welcome addition. T.J. Buchanan led the way once again with 10 points on 2-4 shooting, including 1-2 from three. Ryan Brooks added three points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, and Alwayne Bigby chipped in with two points. The Rhody bench shot 3-7 from the floor (42.9 percent), 50 percent from three and 80 percent from the line. All of those percentages were higher than those of the starters.
2. Perimeter Defense – With Chris Gaston sitting, Fordham looked to Branden Frazier and their other guards for a bulk of their scoring. But the combination of Buchanan, Mike Powell, and Xavier Munford clamped down to force several poor shooting performances. Frazier finished the day shooting 4-16, while Fordham’s other two guards, Bryan Smith and Mandell Thomas, went 1-5 and 5-12 respectively. Throwing Jeff Short (the other Bronx Rams guard off the bench) into the mix and Fordham’s guards shot a combined 30.6 percent (11-36) from the field. Fordham also shot just 16.7 percent from three-point range as a team.
3. Andre Malone – Yes, he was cold from three point range (0-3). And yes, he uncharacteristically shot 0-2 from the free throw line. But Malone once again lit it up from two-point range, going a perfect 6-6 from inside the arc. Dre is now an amazing 13-13 shooting twos over the past two games. His ability drive, stop, and drill a pull-up jumper can’t be understated. In his senior year, Malone is developing into quite the shooting weapon.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Foul Trouble – Coming off a game in which they were whistled for 23 fouls, the Rhode Island Rams somehow upped that total by getting whistled for an insane 27 fouls, including TWENTY of them in the second half. Simply put, that is ridiculous, and with a total that high some of the onus has to be put on the officiating crew. However, the Rams need to play smarter defense without fouling, which is something that they’ve done quite well up until these last two games. Also, it pains us to say it, but Rhody, GW, and Fordham are all bottom-tier A-10 teams, so it would stand to reason that they would receive bottom-tier conference officials in these past two games.
2. Rebounding – Rhody rebounds poorly, we write blurb about poor rebounding, and repeat. On Saturday, URI was a -11 in rebounding margin, this time to the tune of 45-34. The Bronx Rams also held a ridiculous 19-7 edge on the offensive glass, which means that Fordham grabbed the board on an insane 41 percent of the time they missed a shot. If you want to know why Rhody lost to a team like Fordham, look no further than that stat.
3. Shooting – After shooting 50+ percent in their last two games, URI fell back to where they had been shooting for most of the season. They posted a 38.3 shooting percentage on Saturday, including 25 percent from three-point range. And after posting solid offensive efforts versus George Washington, Munford (3-13) and Malesevic (1-7) were the biggest offenders from an efficiency standpoint. Credit Fordham’s defense, which overall has not been that great this season. They stepped up big time on Saturday.
The games start coming fast and furious now as we head towards February. Rhody gets back into action against yet another Rams squad. We’ll have much more on VCU beginning tomorrow.