Getting up for Providence has never been a problem for URI. The players and fans perpetually feel slighted by everyone – the media, the citizens of Rhode Island, the casual fan, the Legislature – everyone. That decades long complexhas often brought a feeling of a Holy War to this series, stemming more from the Rhode Island side.
As a result, the Ryan Center will, for one of the only times this season, be sold out and packed and rowdy. So what awaits the Friars in Kingston?
The Rams are off to a torrid start. Their 8-1 record includes a 76-72 loss to Boston College at Conte in a game that URI easily could have won. Rhody has been an explosive team offensively and as of late, their defense has also been picking up. The Rams have been a team that has often started slow, but in the blink of an eye, can put twenty points on the scoreboard.
Led by 6'7 senior Will Daniels, URI may have the best player on the court in this game. Daniels, a potential NBA draft choice, can hurt teams inside and out and has the ability to take over a game. He's joined up front by 6'8 Kaheim Seawright and 6'9, 280 pound junior college transfer Jason Francis. Seawright has started slowly this year, but recorded a double-double in his last game against Northeastern. Francis reminds some of PC's Ray Hall and his impact this season has been minimal – so far.
In the backcourt, Jim Baron Jr. gives Rhody one of the best long ball shooters in the country. He's joined by senior Parfait Bittee, another solid three point sniper, who is in charge of running the offense.
URI gets a boost of high octane energy from its bench in the form of Keith Cothran, Joe Mbang and Lamonte Ulmer. Cothran is a great run-jump athlete who can get to the rim, as well as nail the outside jumper, while Ulmer is a springy frontcourt athlete who likes to finish at the basket. Mbang has been bothered by a shoulder injury, but had his most impressive game of the year against Northeastern, and is a streaky jump shooter with great hops.
The Keys To Beating Rhode Island
1. Match intensity for forty minutes. URI has had problems at the beginning of games, but this likely won't be one of them. The building will be electric, and the players will feed off of that. We know that URI will be up for this game… can the Friars match their intensity, both at the start and over the course of the whole ballgame?
2. Don't leave Junior. Zoning URI over an extended period of time is likely to produce disastrous results. There are just too many solid three point shooters. Stick Jeff Xavier on Baron, tell him to never leave his side, and hope for the best.
3. Guard the glass. PC has to limit second shot opportunities. URI has always been a team that crashes the boards and gets physical on the glass, although this season, there's been less of that. Very important for the undersized Friars to battle, battle, battle and control the boards. Jonathan Kale and Geoff McDermott will be key here and must avoid cheap fouls.
4. Hit your shots. URI fans have complained this year about soft perimeter defense, and PC has a bevy of fine three point shooters – Xavier, Brian McKenzie, Weyinme Efejuku and Dwain Williams – who can make them pay. The Friars have to hope that at least a couple of their snipers are hot.
5. Hound the Rams. Ball handling is a potential flaw for URI, and the Rams can be pressed. Press and trap Bittee all over the court and try to turn URI over for easy baskets. Turnovers may be the key to this game – both limiting them and forcing them.
• PC leads the series 65-52 and beat URI last year, 95-66 at the Dunk... PC is 0-2 at the Ryan Center, but defeated Carleton University in an exhibition game there earlier this season.
PC vs. URI at the Ryan Center, Kingston, RI
Game time, 7:00, Tuesday, December 4
TV: Cox, Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM
It's PC-URI Time
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