Well this is certainly a low point. Perhaps the lowest point not only of the season, but of the Dan Hurley era as well. The Rhode Island Rams lost their fifth straight game yesterday as they fell to the Duquesne Dukes (yes, the Duquesne Dukes) 83-71 at the Ryan Center. We’ve shown our love to the two freshmen stars here in this space – and they deserve it – but there’s not much else to be excited about right now. And fans are definitely starting to get restless. If you want to know why, read on.
URI was dealt a pretty significant blow before the game even started when it was announced that Ifeanyi Onyekaba would be sitting out due to a violation of team rules. College Chalktalk’s Chris DiSano was one of the first to break the news via Twitter. Yes, it left Rhody incredibly shorthanded for the game, but don’t put this one on Dan Hurley. Team rules exist for a reason, and they don’t bend based on circumstances related to an upcoming game. The good news is that it appears that it was only a minor offense and Onyekaba will be back Wednesday night. In fact, Hurley defended the big man in his post-game presser, saying “[Onyekaba] made a mistake. He’s a smart kid. He’s a high-character kid. He made an error in judgement.”
So with the Rams down to just two big men, what happened? Gilvydas Biruta committed two fouls in the first three minutes of action, and three fouls total in the first half. He played just five of the first 20 minutes. Thankfully Rhody was within striking distance at the half, but that just can’t happen. It was just one of the many frustrations on the afternoon.
Another is simply the realization that this team, as it stands now, isn’t very good. We spun the positives of E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin a few days ago, and certainly nothing has changed on that front. The two rookies are both going to be absolute stars in the A-10, if they aren’t already there. And while the loss of Xavier Munford will sting a bit, his senior season to this point can be classified as very good… but not great. Buchanan brings energy, Biruta has shown flashes, but all in all this team seems to have more role players than starters. At least not starters that can compete for championships in the A-10. A lot can change next year, especially for the younger players like Reischel, Minnis, Onyekaba, and Butler. But as of right now, this team needs a few more key pieces to compliment their two best players. With this season going the way it has, the fan focus has shifted to the upcoming signing period and beyond.
Being that it’s still about two months away, it just gives us more time to enjoy watching the two freshman develop. Rhody is back in action Wednesday night at the Ryan Center as they close out their two game home stand against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.