Sure, it doesn’t count towards the standings. But the 2013-14 Rhode Island Rams will play their first game action at the Ryan Center tonight when they welcome the Southern Connecticut State Owls. We previewed the Division II team out of the Northeast-10 yesterday, but let’s take a deeper dive into what Rhody fans will no doubt be looking for this evening. This space will normally contain “five keys to victory”, but 1. there are many other goals tonight besides a win, and 2. URI is totally going to win. So here’s a few other things to keep an eye on.
1. The Newcomers
In all honestly, our five keys could just have been 1. Matthews/Martin/Butler, 2. Biruta, 3. Onyekaba, 4. Reischel, and 5. Minnis. All eyes will be on these seven guys tonight as fans look to see what they’ll bring to the team this season. We know what guys like Munford, Powell, Buchanan, etc. can provide – it’s time to see what else is in the mix for this year.
2. Inside Play Without Hare
The loss of Jordan Hare is undoubtedly on people’s minds. It was announced this morning that the sophomore would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team, leaving Dan Hurley will one less big man in the rotation. This would have been devastating a season ago, but Rhody had a nice mix this season with Biruta, Aaman, Onyekaba, and Martin. Put your freak-outs on hold and watch these guys play first – our thinking is that they’ll be just fine.
3. Foul Trouble
Due to some rule changes in place for this year, teams have seen big spikes in fouls called in the preseason. The exhibition gives the Rams a buffer in which to adjust to the new officiating. At the very least, it’ll be a learning experience with no repercussions as of yet. If it gets bad tonight, trust that Hurley will have his players adjust before next week.
4. The Starting Lineup
The summer-long debate will finally be resolved. Maybe not tonight, but certainly next week. Either way, you have to think that we’ll have at least a general idea of who will be in the lineup based on who starts on the floor tonight. Nothing’s official until November 8, but keep an eye on the starting five this evening. Any changes before the home opener will likely be minor, if any.
5. The Depth
The what, now? Yes, the Rams finally have depth this season! Just that fact alone will make this one exciting to watch, but when fans see the quality of depth? Oh boy. It’s going to be a fun night.