Rhody Invades the Dunk

The annual war for bragging rights in Rhode Island is on tap when Providence College hosts URI at 2:00 Saturday at the Dunk. The Friars will have to match the Rams' intensity and grit to walk out the victor.

Key Returnees:
Jimmy Baron, 6-2, 190, G, SO, East Greenwich, RI/Bishop Hendricken
Parfait Bitee, 6-2, 185, PG, JR, Yaounde, Cameroon/Louisville Western
Will Daniels, 6-8, 220, F, JR, Hyde Park, N.Y./Franklin D. Roosevelt
Darrell Harris, 6-10, 220, C, SR, Cleveland, Ohio/East, Cuyahoga Community College
Jon Lucky, 6-5, 220, PG, JR, Waterbury, Conn./Sacred Heart
Kahiem Seawright, 6-8, 220, PF, SO, Uniondale, NY/Uniondale

Key Newcomers:
Jonathan Cruz, 6-7, 210, F, FR, Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic
Terence Grier, 6-0, 190, PG, FR, Cranford, N.J./St. Thomas More Prep
Joe Mbang, 6-7, 225, F, JR, Yaounde, Cameroon/Monroe C.C.
Lamonte Ulmer, 6-6, 180, F, FR, Hamden, Conn./Hamden/Notre Dame Prep

Hopes:
Jim Baron is hoping that he's finally assembled a roster of young talent that is able to compete in the upper half of the Atlantic 10. Like Providence, the Ram's roster is sophomore-freshman heavy, and many of the youngsters saw heavy action last year and the newcomers will be tested early this year. URI will rely on upperclassmen like Daniels and Bitee to help guide the youngsters, while Seawright should emerge as a top-flight post player. URI will also be bolstered by the return of Lucky, who has battled injuries and personal problems during his time in Kingston. Baron, Jr. and Bitee are the top outside threats. The Rams will look to go uptempo with a fairly small, but quick roster, and Coach Baron, despite a long-term contract, may be feeling some heat from the fans, along with declining attendance, to start winning.

Reality:
So far, URI has come out of the gate with a 4-3 mark. The Rams have been tough to decipher. An easy win over D2 Stonehill was followed by a tough 102-99 loss at home to Houston. URI then traveled to Alaska, where they suffered a bad loss to Troy, followed that up with a closer-than-needed win over D2 Alaska-Fairbanks, and a close win over Centenary. The Rams were then throttled, 86-68, at Boston College, before beating a weak Iona squad. Daniels has been the leading scorer, at 17.0 ppg, followed by Baron, at 14.8 ppg, Seawright, at 13.3 ppg, and Mbang, at 10.9 ppg. Seawright has been a beast on the boards, averaging 10.3 rpg, but URI is a good rebounding team, with Ulmer, Mbang and Daniels all pitching in. As a team, URI shoots 45% from the floor, 39% from three, and 76% from the line. Three players – Baron, Daniels and Mbang – have hit 10 or more threes, while Bitee is 9-27. If left open, Rhody can do major damage from the arc. Where URI has struggled is with their defense and turnovers. URI has 123 turnovers, compared with 101 assists, and the Rams have had trouble finding opponents' three point threats. Rhody is also a bit undersized inside and susceptible to big front lines. This will be the 117th meeting between PC and URI, with the Friars holding a 64-52 advantage. URI is PC's most played opponent, although Brown, St. John's, Seton Hall and Holy Cross are older rivals.

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