The Rhode Island Rams are eight games into the 2013-14 season, but there’s still a lot of lingering questions as to how good this team is going to be. This afternoon may provide some answers for Rhody fans. URI heads on the road to take on the George Mason Patriots this afternoon as they’ll be trying to win their fourth game in a row. It won’t be easy; GMU came away with a scrappy 55-52 win last season when these two teams faced off at the Ryan Center. Here’s what the Rams will need to do to return the favor:
1. Start Strong, Finish Strong
Seems like this will continue to show up in our “keys to victory” until it happens. Rhody kind of reversed the script last time out against McNeese State when they jumped out to a huge lead before nearly collapsing at the end. Which now brings the “finish strong” qualifier into play. And everything in between. It’s time for the Rams to play 40 minutes of solid basketball.
2. Contain Wright
The George Mason offense all starts with 6’4″ guard Sherrod Wright. The senior is averaging an even 17.0 points per game this season and has reached double-figures in every game so far. If that’s not scary enough, Wright is coming off a 27-point performance against the Princeton Tigers on Tuesday, to go along with eight rebounds and four steals. Rhody was able to do a decent job with him last season, holding him to 14 points on 5-11 shooting. They’ll have to do the same today to pick up a victory.
3. Guard the Lane
This one is key. The Patriots (like most teams) do the most damage when they drive the paint, getting high-percentage shots and scoring around the rim. URI cannot allow that to happen. If they can force GMU to settle for jump shots and three-pointers, they’ll really be able to limit the effectiveness of Paul Hewitt’s squad.
4. Keep Munford Hot
The ankle seems to be healing nicely. Munford has been en fuego lately, averaging 20 points per game over his last two contests, including a 26-point outburst last time out. X is also finding his touch from outside; he connected on six three pointers Tuesday night against McNeese State. If he can keep it rolling, the Rams will have a great shot at win number seven.
5. Limit Foul Trouble
This is key, especially with GMU’s desire to take the ball into traffic. The Rams are still thin down low with Mike Aaman not slated to come back until December 5th (at the earliest), so keeping their best players on the floor needs to be a priority. This afternoon will certainly feel a lot better if Dan Hurley can lay out the rotation without having to worry about foul trouble.
All in all, this is certainly a winnable game for URI, and it should be a great one either way. These two squads are very evenly matched, so we could be in for a treat. How do you see this one going down? Let us know in the comments!