Time to bounce back. That’s what the Rhode Island Rams are hoping for tonight when they take on the North Carolina A&T Aggies at the Ryan Center. The Rams are currently licking their wounds following an 89-58 beat-down at the hands of the SMU Mustangs, but it’s time to move on. And the Aggies look to be the perfect opponent for a team looking to pick up a much-needed win. Like Rhody, NC A&T will come into tonight’s game at 1-1. The difference is the competition; the Aggies lone win came against a D-III team, while their loss was to the powerhouse that is the Utah Valley Wolverines. Following their big win, Utah Valley went to Oklahoma State and lost by 53. So yeah… the Rams have a decent shot tonight. Here’s what needs to happen:
1. Develop Amnesia
SMU game? What SMU game? Obviously it’s not that simple, but Dan Hurley and Co. have hopefully found the right blend of “learn from the loss” and “put it behind you”. One game early in the season can’t break a team unless they allow it to snowball. Fans have been waiting all week for tonight’s game, hoping the Rams can wash away the bad taste leftover from Monday night. Smart money says URI comes out of the locker room tonight like a team possessed.
2. Stay Determined on Defense
Lapses on D have been few and far between since Hurley took over at Rhode Island. But the final 25-ish minutes against the Mustangs were about as bad as it gets. Everything looks and feels bleaker after a blowout loss, but let’s be real – defense isn’t a problem for Rhody. If they turn up the energy a little bit this week after a sluggish second half on Monday, that should certainly be enough to handle NC A&T.
3. Find the Bottom of the Net
This key to the game is brought to you by John Madden and Tim McCarver. Seriously though, URI had a ton of good looks against SMU… and only a small portion of those actually went in the basket. In the ups and downs of a basketball season, things like that tend to happen. There were very few issues with shot selection on Monday, even though Rhody buried less than 31 percent of their attempts. The Rams don’t have to change all that much this time around, but it would be nice if some of those shots started to fall. Please?
4. Turn E.C. Loose
Do it. Matthews isn’t the star of this team… yet… but it sure as hell looks like he can be. Count us among those that would love to see more minutes, more plays, and more shots from the freshman as he continues to turn heads in the college basketball world. Sure, this is more of a fan mindset than it is a strategic one, but E.C. is incredibly fun to watch. More, please.
5. Get the Crowd Involved
Obviously Rhody is coming off a tough, humbling road loss. What better way to get them back into the groove than having a packed, rowdy Ryan Center? Players can feed off the energy of their fans much like fans feed off the play on the court. If both of those are in action around 7:00 this evening, it should make for a very fun night in Kingston.
Any thoughts or predictions for tonight’s game? Leave them in the comments below! GO RHODY!