For the Rhode Island Rams, putting up a fight is a good sign. So is winning games. Rhody did one but not the other last night in a 72-62 loss to the La Salle Explorers. The effort was there for URI, but the offense, the defense, and the results in general were not. It was a sobering defeat on many levels as the Rams now sit at 0-3 in the conference and 9-9 overall. The .500 mark is the first time Rhody has not a winning record since they were 1-1. Let’s dive right into this one.
The bright spots for Rhode Island shouldn’t surprise anyone. Xavier Munford led the way and scored 20+ points. Gilvydas Biruta posted a double-double, T.J. Buchanan and Hassan Martin were solid, and E.C. Matthews showed his usual flashes of becoming a great player. In fact, the Rams were even with La Salle in almost every offensive category. Rebounds, assists, blocks, turnovers… but it wasn’t enough. And therein lies the frustration.
The biggest problem for Rhody in this one was point guard play… or lack thereof. Biggie Minnis saw just eight minutes last night thanks to foul trouble, and he didn’t make the most of them. The Philadelphia native posted 0 points, 0 assists and two turnovers in his homecoming, and it could spell an end to his starting role. From the Providence Journal:
Despite his recent struggles, URI sophomore Biggie Minnis started at point guard for the 11th consecutive game on Wednesday against La Salle. There’s a chance he could be coming off the bench from now on.
After Minnis was held scoreless and fouled out in eight minutes, Rams coach Dan Hurley said it was possible that T.J. Buchanan could replace Minnis in the starting lineup, although nothing has been determined.
Hurley decided to start Minnis again in part because he grew up in Philadelphia and had successes here. Instead, Minnis had two fouls within the first five minutes and never found his rhythm all night.
“I think the mindset coming in here was maybe Biggie coming home back to Philly against guys that he’s played against his whole life and has played at a high level against would re-energize him, but it went the other way,” Hurley said. “It’s something that we have to look at [starting Buchanan] because [Minnis] was playing really well for us off the bench in the beginning of the year.”
And then there’s free throw shooting. URI shot just 11-21 from the line as their troubles with the freebies continue. Maybe they’re just going through a slump. Maybe the expectations surrounding this team were too high. Either way, Rhody has to try and right this ship soon to avoid yet another losing season.
They’ll have their chance on Saturday at the Ryan Center when they get another crack at the George Mason Patriots. The rematch is set for 12:30 p.m.