#106 Rhode Island Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Rhode Island Rams

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #9 A-10

Rhode Island Team Page#106 Rhode Island Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Rhode Island Basketball Tickets

There are rebuilding years and then there was Rhode Island’s 2012-2013 campaign. Coach Dan Hurley only had a few players with any Division I experience on his team last season and the result was much like one would expect. The Rams won just three conference games and eight overall. Fortunately, Rhode Island had some talent sitting on the bench and those players are now eligible to play. That will make all the difference as the Rams move from the bottom of the A-10 towards the middle and beyond.

2012-13 Record: 8-21, 3-13
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Hurley
Coach Record: 8-21 at Rhode Island, 46-44 overall

Who’s Out:
There were a few seniors around last season. Guard Andre Malone and forward Nikola Malesevic averaged 10.3 points each. They were also the top two rebounders on the squad. Ryan Brooks worked his way into a part-time starting role during his senior season and the 6-8 forward did do some good work on the glass. Wing Alwayne Bigby never found his shooting stroke during his last year with the Rams and thus averaged less than ten minutes per game.

Who’s In:
This is where things get interesting and where the potential and hope lies. But for the Rams the hope is not looking deep into the future, it is looking at the 2013-2014 campaign. Jarelle Reischel and Gilvydas Biruta are a couple forwards who could be starting from day one. Reischel spent one year at Rice where he averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 rebounds before heading to Rhode Island. Biruta was a very productive player for the two years he spent at Rutgers. As a true freshman back in 2010-2011, he averaged an impressive 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. That is some great production for a freshman in the Big East. The following season Biruta averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 boards. With a year on the sidelines with the Rams, Biruta will be ready to come in and take over the frontcourt. Biggie Minnis spent one season at Texas Tech, earning five starts for the Red Raiders. He is still young, but Minnis is a talented point guard that has been making noise during practice for the last year. Now we will get to see him on the floor. But the battle for minutes at the point will be very interesting with the addition of Minnis and incoming freshman E.C. Matthews to go along with last year’s starter, Mike Powell. Matthews is a great pickup for the Rams. The 6-5 combo guard is ranked as the 97th best incoming freshman by College Sports Madness and should spend some time backing up both the point guard and the shooting guard spots this year. Matthew Butler will add more depth on the perimeter, but the other big recruit coming in is forward Hassan Martin. Not as highly touted as Matthews, Martin will still find the floor as a freshman, especially when Coach Hurley wants to play big and put the 6-7 freshman at the small forward spot. Sophomore Ifeanyi Onyekaba sat out last season due to NCAA regulations and should compete for the starting center job. Onyekaba is a pretty polished interior scorer and a tough rebounder and shot blocker.

Who to Watch:
Most of the returning talent is in the backcourt. Xavier Munford took over the Rams after coming in from the junior college ranks. He easily led the team with 17.4 points per game. Munford may not be the most efficient scorer around, but that could change this year. He had to do so much for the offensively challenged Rams that he was forced to put up some tough shots. With more talent around him, Munford should be able to play more within the offense and knock down three-pointers and attack the basket. Powell, the starting point guard a season ago, will be in a tough battle for minutes with Minnis and Matthews. He is a decent distributor and a fine defender though and has enough of a three-point shot to at least keep the opposing defense honest. T.J. Buchanan averaged nearly 18 minutes per game as a sophomore, yet that number could be tough to reach if the newcomers on the perimeter all live up to their hype. Buchanan’s ability to use his athleticism and 6-3 frame to help out on the glass does mean he can play at the three position when the Rams need a smaller and more athletic group on the floor.

Final Projection:
Jordan Hare and Mike Aaman will compete with the newcomers for minutes in the frontcourt. Hare had a very promising freshman campaign, averaging 5.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in under 20 minutes per contest. The 6-10 Saginaw, Michigan product is still growing into his frame and with a year in the weight room will be much better suited to battle in the paint. Aaman is not the shot blocking threat that Hare is, but he is a great player to come in off of the bench and grab some rebounds and play tough defense. Like the backcourt, the frontcourt is adding in a lot of new faces. Most have been around at practice for a while, yet getting everybody on the same page on game day could take some time. The Rams will likely need time. Yet, by March, this squad has enough talent to be a serious threat in the Atlantic 10.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Biggie Minnis, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Xavier Munford, Senior, Guard, 17.4 points per game
Jarelle Reischel, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Gilvydas Biruta, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Jordan Hare, Sophomore, Forward, 5.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 61.6 (298th in nation, 16th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (187, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.0 (313, 16)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.5 (251, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (148, 10)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.2 (232, 12)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.1 (247, 12)
Rebound Margin: -5.4 (327, 15)
Assists Per Game: 10.9 (296, 16)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (76, 6)

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#97 E.C. Matthews


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