Step off the ledge, Rhody fans. Yes, the Rhode Island Rams got demolished by the SMU Mustangs Monday night, falling 89-58. But a few things to keep in mind. This team has a lot of new names, faces, and moving parts. To expect them to gel perfectly after just two games is asking a little much. Secondly, URI won just eight games last season. There has to be room for growing pains this year; they’ll improve as the year goes on, but it won’t always be linear. Finally… this was one game! And the second game of the year at that. There is more than enough time remaining in the season to work on correcting the issues from Monday. Let’s take a look at some of those issues… without hitting the panic button.
First, the defense. The Rams actually looked pretty solid on D through the first fifteen or so minutes of this game. After that… not so much. Rhody allowed the Mustangs to shoot a staggering 69 percent from the field in the second half as they couldn’t stop much of anything. 54 (or 61 percent) of SMU’s points came in the paint, and Larry Brown’s squad was also able to connect from beyond the arc. Basically, the Mustangs were scoring at will in the final 25 minutes of the game. The players and the coaches need to share the blame for this enormous defensive breakdown to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
It’s slightly concerning that, as bad as the defense was, it wasn’t Rhody’s biggest problem in this one. Rhode Island’s offense struggled from the outset and never found a rhythm all night. The Rams shot a shade under 31 percent from the field on the game and missed their first 13 three-point attempts. Matthew Butler came off the bench to bury a pair of shots from behind the arc in the final minute to end the drought, but the team still finished at a 13 percent clip from deep. Rhody also committed twenty turnovers, which led to 19 SMU points. Essentially everything that could have gone poorly went poorly.
The players and coaches certainly have a lot to work on these next few days. The Rams are back in action Friday night when they take on the North Carolina A&T Aggies at the Ryan Center. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.