Rhody fans have seen this movie before. The Rhode Island Rams lost their ninth game of the season in which they led at halftime, 72-65 to the La Salle Explorers. URI once again suffered a second half scoring drought in which La Salle exploded for a 17-2 run in five minutes and 45 seconds. The Rams were never able to recover as they drop to 3-10 in conference play and 8-18 overall. There were some positives to take from this one, as Rhody kept it close with one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10. Let’s see what else we can take away from the loss:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Points in the Paint – After the three-point shootout that was the Xavier game, Dan Hurley and Co made adjustments to get the ball inside for more high-percentage shots. And it worked – only 11 of the 58 shots that URI took were three-pointers, and the Rams held a 34-26 edge in points in the paint. Rhody’s shooting percentage saw a huge jump up to 44.8 percent on the afternoon, with Rhode Island centers combining for 19 points on 9-14 shooting.
2. Turnovers – The Rams are one of the best teams in the country at limiting turnovers so this isn’t surprising at all, but Rhody coughed the ball up just nine times yesterday. Their ball control allowed La Salle to tally just eight points off turnovers. For the season, URI has averaged 12.3 miscues per game, good for 82nd in the country.
3. Mike Aaman – With Jordan Hare missing yesterday’s game (more on that in a moment), Aaman shined is the starting role. The freshman posted 15 points on 7-10 shooting and 1-2 from the line. He also added six rebounds, two assists and a block in his 29 minutes of work.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Mike Powell – While he certainly played a role in limiting turnovers, Powell didn’t do much else yesterday. The sophomore point guard failed to score in this one, going 0-7 from the field including 0-1 from three. Powell was also was underwhelming on defense, allowing Tyreek Duren to go off for a game-high 21 points on 7-11 shooting. 36 minutes of no points and poor defense from a starter is not going to win many games for the Rams.
2. Free Throw Shooting – Rhody attempted a furious comeback in the final two minutes, but it was derailed due to poor shooting from the line. URI shot just 50 percent (8-16) from the charity stripe, and with La Salle hitting 17 of 20 foul shots, free throw shooting may very well have been the difference yesterday.
3. Jordan Hare – Per Bobby Hurley in the post-game show yesterday, the coaching staff was not please with Hare’s effort in practice on Saturday. As a result, he was kicked out of the practice and benched for the duration of the game. It could be a one-time incident, but some of Dan Hurley’s comments after the game were a bit curious:
Hare is a big piece of this program going forward, so let’s hope he can bounce back from this slip-up.
The Rams now have a week off to make their final adjustments for the stretch run. Technically, they’re still not officially eliminated from the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but they’ll have to win out coupled with St. Joseph’s losing out. Seems pretty unlikely, but it’s important for this team, and especially the young players, to finish strong and end the season on a positive note. There’s no doubt that the coaching staff will be gearing up for just that.