The Rhode Island Rams suffered their most lopsided loss of the season on Wednesday, falling 81-53 to the Massachusetts Minutemen in Amherst. Rhody allowed 80+ points for only the second time in regulation this season as their defense came out flat and never recovered. This game was certainly not up to Rhody’s standards, especially considering what we’ve been seeing from them for the past few games. The loss was URI’s fifth straight, their longest losing streak since they lost five in a row to open the season. Simply put, this one was ugly. Whatever happened Wednesday night was unlike anything most fans have seen this season. Before we put this one behind us, let’s take a deeper dive:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Xavier Munford – More often than not, X has been the one constant this season. The Atlantic 10′s second leading scorer poured in 22 points on 7-17 shooting and 5-6 from the line. Munford was just 3-10 from three point range, however, and one of those triples was a circus shot as the buzzer sounded to end the first half. Also of note, X appears to be fully recovered from the ankle injury that he suffered in the second half of the Butler game.
2. Free Throws – The only had 12 attempts from the line, but Rhody was able to shoot 83.3 percent from the stripe. The Rams have struggled to convert free throws at times this season, but they have shot freebies at over 80 percent for the past two games.
3. The Importance of Jordan Hare – How’s this for spinning a negative into a positive: Rhody really missed Jordan Hare against UMass, which really shows how big of a piece he is for Dan Hurley’s squad. Hare made the trip to the Bay State, but was held out of the lineup with back spasms. Without him, the Rams converted only 10 points in the paint as they were forced to shoot 30 three-pointers. The two-headed center of Ryan Brooks and Mike Aaman combined for just one point, five rebounds, and no blocks in 40 minutes of play. Would Rhody have defeated UMass if Hare had been active? No chance. But clearly their offense missed his presence. His status for Saturday is still up in the air.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Defense – Wednesday’s game was so poor that we’ve been forced into extremely broad generalizations for what went wrong. The Rhody defense was public enemy number one, as they allowed UMass to shoot 52 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three point range. The Rams also had no answer for Chaz Williams, who went off for 27 points on 9-14 shooting. Maybe this was a trap game following the VCU/Butler week from hell, but there’s still not a lot to say that can justify URI’s defensive effort in this one.
2. Outside Shooting – The Rams shot 30 threes partly because of the absence of Jordan Hare on offense, and partly because they were behind by a lot for a majority of the game. Still, they hit only seven of them, which translated to a 23.3 percentage. Munford shot 3-10, Andre Malone was 2-8, and Nikola Malesevic, T.J. Buchanan, and Alwayne Bigby combined for an 0-6 performance. Whatever Rhody tried on offense, none of it seemed to work.
3. The Fast Break – The turnovers on Wednesday were relatively even; Rhody turned the ball over just 12 times to 11 for the Minutemen. But UMass was able to a lot more with the miscues than the Rams, scoring 19 points off turnovers to just seven for URI. The Minutemen also racked up 10 fast-break points, while Rhody had zero.
The Rams need to put this game behind them as quickly as possible and focus on the next one. At least they’ll be back at the Ryan Center for the first time in over a week, as they get set to take on St. Bonaventure… and a SNOWPOCALYPSE. Stay tuned as we get set to preview the Bonnies.