Another game, and another reminder that things aren’t getting any easier for the Rhode Island Rams. Rhody is on the road once again as they take on the La Salle Explorers, who only make it to the Sweet 16 last year. No big deal, right? Well this one is more winnable than most may have thought before the season began. La Salle is just 9-6 on the year, and their offensive struggles have been well chronicled. So here’s what the Rams will need to do to snag their first A-10 W.
1. Come Ready to Play
This one sounds kind of silly, because this could be a “key” for every team for every sporting event ever played. Also because it’s not something that’s usually an issue for Division I basketball teams. But if you watched URI’s performance against the Colonials last time out… yeah. That type of effort cannot happen again. And with Dan Hurley at the helm, we trust that it won’t.
2. Turn Up the Perimeter Defense
The Explorers pose some different problems than GW did, and the Rams will need to adjust. While George Washington gave Rhody problems down low (and then some), La Salle’s two star players are both guards. Point guard Tyreek Duren is averaging 13.7 points and 3.8 assists per game, and fellow senior Tyrone Garland checks in with 14.1 points and 2.3 assists. URI is going to need their guards to step up on defense to try and keep the duo in check.
3. Start Strong
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with “coming ready to play”, but simply avoiding laying an egg in the first half won’t be enough. The Rams have had a pair of rocky first halves in their first two A-10 games so far, and they need to reverse the trend. It’s going to be tough considering Rhody is on the road once again, but a lead in the first half would be awfully nice.
4. Control the Glass
Rhode Island will once again be facing a team that rebounds just about as well as they do. And while URI has had some difficulties capitalizing on 50/50 match-ups lately, it’s another obstacle they’re going to have to overcome to snag a win. La Salle is averaging 36.7 boards per game while the Rams are at 36.6. Can Rhody come out on top when it comes to rebounding? If they do, they’ll most likely be able to come away with the victory.
5. Play Under Control
The Rams are 0-2 in the conference. They’re coming off a pretty dismal performance. Fans are starting to panic a bit. But the players themselves can’t get wrapped up in it and start to do too much. When URI was down by 30-something points to GW, several players started going wild on both ends of the floor as they tried to take over the game and single-handedly lead Rhody back. This time, the Rams need to calm down and stick to the game plan, even if they find themselves behind. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s the only way they’ll have a chance in this one.
So what do you think – will Rhode Island grab Atlantic 10 win number one? Or will the Explorers move to 3-0 in the conference and send URI fans closer to the ledge? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.