After playing one of the best teams in the country on Tuesday, the Rhode Island Rams move on to play one of the worst. Rhody will welcome UMass Lowell to the Ryan Center tomorrow afternoon as they try to bounce back from a pretty thorough beat-down at the hands of the Wildcats. And they should be able to; the River Hawks are in the midst of their first season as a Division I basketball school after spending the past 37 years at the D-II level. Here’s what URI will need to do in order to top the newest members of the America East Conference.
1. Compete for 40 Minutes
This has been the recurring theme of the 2013-14 season so far. Rhody has looked very good at times, but they’ve also had spurts of poor ball handling, slow defense, and inconsistent offense. If there’s any team that can cure what ails the Rams, it’s UMass Lowell. They’re near the bottom of all D-I teams in most major categories, so Dan Hurley’s squad should be able to control things from the opening tip to the final buzzer. If they do, it will restore confidence in players and fans alike.
2. Limit Fouls in the Front Court
There’s been no official confirmation on this, but if Mike Aaman’s Instagram is to be believed, he had his appendix removed at some point during or after the Arizona game. If that’s the case, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be suiting up for the Rams tomorrow afternoon. That leaves Rhody will just Gilvydas Biruta, Ifeanyi Onyekaba, and Hassan Martin to play the power forward and center positions. With things that thin, those three players will have to keep out of foul trouble in order for Rhode Island to stay competitive down low.
3. Tighten Up the Help Defense
The most glaring issues Tuesday night against ‘Zona were almost certainly help D, defensive rotations, and communication. If Rhody worked on those this week in practice as expected, we should hopefully see results tomorrow afternoon against a weaker opponent. If the Rams can get stronger and stay strong in those areas moving forward, it will go a long way towards improving the team as the season progresses.
4. Dominate the Glass
The River Hawks currently sit at 343rd in the country in total rebounds with a staggeringly low 28.8 per-game average. Meanwhile, Rhode Island is racking up 40.0 rebounds per contest, good for 94th in the nation. Even if Mike Aaman doesn’t play, URI should have a clear advantage on the boards – let’s hope they can take advantage in a big way tomorrow. If they do, we could be looking at a very convincing win.
5. Run Up the Score
So let’s see. Rebounds, scoring, defense… Rhody has the advantage in a lot of areas going into this one. With some fans a little anxious about the team’s play thus far, a blowout win could be enough to get them off the ledge. The Rams are poised to do it, and our thinking is that they will.
Can it be tomorrow already?