They’ve already done it once, so why not again? The Rhode Island Rams will play the Dayton Flyers tomorrow night for the second time this season, and they’ll be looking to pick up another W. Rhody picked up a convincing 88-76 win over UD at the Ryan Center last month, so the only thing standing in between URI and another victory is the fact that this one’s on the road. The Rams have yet to win a conference game away from Kingston this season, but here’s how they can change all that.
1. Repeat Performance
Rhode Island’s 12-point victory on January 25th was more than just a regular ol’ W. Rhody racked up one of their best shooting performances in school history. Both Xavier Munford and E.C. Matthews were on fire as they combined for 47 points, and the game was never really close. Can the Rams do the same thing tomorrow night, on the road no less? Maybe not – but even 80 percent of what they did last time out should be good enough to pick up a win.
2. Foul Troubles
Gilvydas Biruta, Hassan Martin, and Ifeanyi Onyekaba all had their fair share of foul troubles Sunday afternoon against UMass. And when URI’s only three big men are limited in terms of playing time, things don’t always go so well. The good news is that when they last faced Dayton, Biruta played 17 first half minutes without picking up a personal. Also, none of the three big men tallied more than three fouls for the game. Whatever happened worked – let’s see if they can repeat it.
3. Oliver and Pierre
Keeping the Rhody big men on the court will be key to stopping the two best players on the Flyers. Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre combined for 33 points on 13-23 shooting last month, and the Rams can’t let them get too hot. URI usually needs to score in the seventies if they’re going to win. Keeping these two in check can lock that in.
4. Perimeter D
Dayton ranks first in the conference (and 42nd in the nation) in three point shooting with an impressive 38.1 percentage. Someone should have told the Rams. Rhode Island held the Flyers to a miniscule 21.4 (3-14) success rate at the Ryan Center, and they’ll need do repeat that. The good news is that URI ranks 13th in the country in three-point defense. Tomorrow will be the perfect time to build on that success.
5. Free Throws
Ah yes, Rhody’s arch nemesis. Obviously it’s foolish to correlate their performance against Dayton three weeks ago to tomorrow’s game, but let’s face it. They did shoot 57.5 percent from the line that afternoon. If you’re looking for some good news, check this out. URI converted 76 percent of their chances from the stripe on Sunday versus UMass. Maybe things are looking up?
Either way, it’s time to repeat. As has been said several times here, aesthetics don’t matter. Who cares if Rhode Island doesn’t shoot as well or win by as much or any of that? Fans shouldn’t. A win is a win, and it’s another step closer to URI finishing the season strong.