Thirty seven days.
Not that anyone’s counting. But that’s how long it is until the Rhode Island Rams season officially begins with a face-off against the Maine Black Bears at the Ryan Center. And with the schedule being released (less a few NIT Season Tip-Off games) about a month ago, it’s time to start looking at the opponents. Let’s get to it.
2012-13 Record: 11-19 (6-10 in the America East Conference)
Key Losses: G Justin Edwards, F Alasdair Fraser, C Mike Allison
Key Returners: G Xavier Pollard, F Zarko Valjarevic, G Shaun Lawton
Player to Watch: G Xavier Pollard
Pollard is certainly a player to watch for the Black Bears. The junior point guard is Maine’s top returner in points, rebounds, and assists. The Black Bears faced only one Atlantic 10 last season, but check out Pollard’s numbers against the Duquesne Dukes: 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. The Bronx point guard is a double-double threat in any and every game, so the Rhody defense will need to key on him in order to start the season off right.
Prediction: Rhode Island 71 – Maine 58
The Black Bears had only two players average double-digit points last year… and they’re both gone. Pollard should certainly be able to help fill that void, but other than that, we’re not sure where Maine is going to get their points. Ted Woodward’s squads have always been strong rebounding teams (57th in the country last season), but the Rams have a lot of new faces down low to repair last year’s issues on the glass. It took Rhody five tries to win their first game a season ago – that’s not going to happen this time around.