Rhode Island Rams
2014-2015 Overall Rank: #57
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic 10
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Compared to their eight wins in Coach Dan Hurley’s first year at Rhode Island, winning 14 games was a good year for the Rams. However, the expectations are much, much higher for this program and year three could be the breakout season for the new coaching staff. URI is loaded with young talent and the potential is there for this group to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth in the very tough A-10. E.C. Matthews, a 6-5 sophomore, will lead the way. He averaged 15.3 points per game as a freshman and is this team’s best outside shooter, for now.
2013-14 Record: 14-18, 5-11
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Hurley
Coach Record: 22-39 at Rhode Island, 50-52 overall
Xavier Munford is a massive loss for Rhode Island. He averaged 16.9 points per game and rarely saw the bench. He could score from anywhere on the floor, and did his part in the passing and rebounding game as well. However, Coach Hurley hopes that much of Munford’s production can be replaced with freshmen.
Replacing that much production with freshmen would normally be wishful thinking for a program like Rhode Island. But not this year. Jared Terrell is a great pickup for the Rams and the 6-3 guard can score in bunches. He is not a proven shooter, but there are not many stronger and tougher guards in the A-10. Jarvis Garrett will be overshadowed by Terrell, yet the point guard is a great talent and Coach Hurley will certainly find room for him in the rotation this year. The last newcomer is junior college transfer Earl Watson. The 6-7, 255 pound center will add toughness in the paint and is a pretty efficient scorer.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt already has quite a few options. Gilvydas Biruta, one of just two seniors on the roster, had a quality debut season for the Rams after spending a couple seasons at Rutgers. He averaged 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest and was the only player besides Munford to start all 32 games. Like Matthews, Hassan Martin had a great freshman campaign and his expectations are through the roof for his sophomore season. He led the conference in blocked shots per game with 2.5 and added 6.3 points and 5.7 rebounds. Jarelle Reischel and Ifeanyi Onyekaba also earned some starts last season. Reischel is a 6-5 small forward and Onyekaba is the big body who can eat up space in the paint. Jordan Hare, who sat out last season, is the tallest player on the roster at 6-10. Two years ago, as a freshman, Hare averaged 5.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.
T.J. Buchanan had some great games last season and took over the starting point guard duties for about half of the season. He is not much of a shooter or scorer, but there are plenty of other players on this team who can score; URI needs Buchanan to provide energy and run the show. In the second to last game of the season against Fordham, he scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out seven assists. If he can put up numbers close to that on a regular basis, this team is in great shape. Biggie Minnis and Matthew Butler will have to fight for minutes off of the bench with the newcomers. All the pieces are there for Rhode Island to take a huge jump up the A-10 standings. They were certainly better than their 5-11 conference record would indicate and now the more experienced squad should be able to come out on the winning end of those close games.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
T.J. Buchanan, Senior, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Jared Terrell, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
E.C. Matthews, Sophomore, Guard, 14.3 points per game
Gilvydas Biruta, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Hassan Martin, Sophomore, Forward, 6.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.8 (257th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.1 (117, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (134, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (134, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.8 (316, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.1 (NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.3 (312, 11)
Rebound Margin: 2.2 (114, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (222, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (310, 13)
Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#70 Jared Terrell