If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been shying away from mentioning the man pictured above for the duration of this season. The way we see it, the Rhode Island Rams basketball team has moved on and there’s no sense dwelling on the past when the future looks so promising. But with a few recent blurbs and tidbits coming out in the media over the past week or two, it’s becoming harder to ignore. Just how bad was it at URI when Jim Baron left? The word that’s slowly leaking out now is that it was pretty bad, and perhaps Dan Hurley’s rebuilding job has been even more difficult than most fans realize.
The first clue involves the academic standing of Rhody basketball. Supposedly, Baron ran a tight ship when it came to the classroom, and URI hoops was consistently in a high academic standing. But with outstanding students Billy Baron and Orion Outerbridge gone from the roster this year, things slipped so far that it actually affected recruiting (emphasis ours):
“I was under the impression that there wouldn’t be the amount of turnover on our roster due to transfers, dismissals from the university or academic issues and that changed the way we had to approach April recruiting,” said Hurley, who was hired by Rhode Island on April 2 last year. “Was this the roster that I thought I’d be coaching in January? I’d be lying if I said yes.”
One of the so-called “culture changes” this year has been the departure time for weekend games. The Rams used to hit the road on Friday mornings for Saturday away games, but Hurley has now insisted that the team doesn’t leave until the last player has finished all of his Friday classes.
Another hint into Hurley inheriting a mess came from an unlikely source… an Indiana sports blog that was just gathering quotes for an A-10 Power Rankings post. But it contained this tidbit:
Dan Hurley: “It smacked us in the face when we got here, the lack of work ethic, the lack of desire to succeed, and all the cultural pieces have to be in place just to have a chance to win. Forget about talent. You can’t do any of that business until you’ve fixed the behavior and attitudes. That’s something that is a battle here that we’re fighting every day.”
College Chalktalk’s Chris DiSano also hinted at a work ethic change when he tweeted this after the Xavier game:
— Chris DiSano (@CDiSano44) February 21, 2013
So supposedly two of Jim Baron’s biggest strengths, a hard-working attitude and a strong focus on academics are now being exposed as… well, not as good as fans thought, to say the least. The rumblings of a mess inherited have been heard for a while, but now there are some facts behind it. And potentially more to come. Even though this season hasn’t exactly gone as planned, Rhody fans should be happier than ever that Dan Hurley is at the helm. And not… “he who must not be named”.