Rhode Island continues along in its rebuild season after welcoming Archie Miller to Kingston last spring. At 6-12 overall and 2-4 in league play, the Rams continue to search for consistency and quality decision making when it matters – in close and late situations.
As George Mason pays a visit tomorrow, why not answer a few questions from Rhody Nation on the state of the Rams? Cast a tweet out and questions will arrive.
RHODY TAKES ON GEORGE MASON SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, AT NOON LIVE ON YURVIEW – COX CHANNEL 4.
@JohnTheDonLuca asks: Archie switched the starting lineup a bit. Is he going to keep trying different guys?
CDD: I’m sure he’d prefer continuity over change, but you don’t always have that luxury. Early in the season Rhode Island trialed several starting lineups (and combinations) to understand skill sets, complementary aspects, on-court chemistry and more. By about eight games into the year Archie was settling on Ishmael Leggett, Brayon Freeman, Malik Martin, Abdou Samb, and Josaphat Bilau. Then Bilau went down against UMass-Lowell and this injury was a major disruptor in many ways. Bilau brought the only veteran interior presence, toughness, the ability to throw it into the pivot, and allowed Samb to slide to the 4, his more natural spot.
Post-Bilau, Samb played the 5 and Jalen Carey – back from a groin injury – was producing and earning playing time. However, Samb has been gimpy lately after turning an ankle a couple of games ago… and the 5 is not his ideal natural spot. This has Archie experimenting and developing Alex Tchikou, who is seeing more minutes in this role.
Again, you want to promote continuity and role definition, but sometimes the cards aren’t dealt in your favor and you have to be resourceful and improvise game-to-game. This is where the Rams are. Thanks for the question, John.
@clarkie57 asks: What’s the hold up with Anthony Harris? Or has the ship sailed?
CDD: North Carolina transfer Anthony Harris was a splash commit early but has yet to make it to Kingston. I have heard very little about the situation recently, other than it was still his intention to enroll and folks were anticipating his arrival. Practically, if he’s not here by Monday, January 23 – the start of second semester – the chances of us seeing him in a new shade of blue decrease. Appreciate you following clarkie, many good questions through the years.
@John_Sulima asks: Arch keeps talking about progress but it’s hard to see. You follow the team as closely as anybody, what’s your assessment?
CDD: Thanks John, appreciate it. As I said in the Learfield postgame show after UMass, growth isn’t linear. Even more so, sometimes it’s really difficult to see. It’s akin to lifting weights or planting a seed. Nothing for a while and then it pops. There’s a lot going on below the surface in terms of developing good individual habits, learning a system, playing together, and making gains. I see individual gains in many guys. For example, Brayon Freeman has been better (note: still much room to grow) in his approach to being a willing passer, Brandon Weston continues to grow in confidence and comfort, the bigs are improving in ball screen defense situations, and other team gains. Despite the flat day at UMass, these guys care. They are playing for one another. There’s simply such a razor thin margin for error most nights (and this team is not a razor thin error avoiding team) that it’s tough for them to hang on for Ws.
The wins are not there to the degree anyone would like, most importantly the coaches and players. Yet there’s growth under the surface. Eventually a program turns a corner and infusion of talent, returnee experience/system familiarity, and accumulation of the habits has a force-multiplying factor that translates into more wins. Right now they aren’t there, nor should they be expected to be in Year 1. If it’s Year 3 and this program isn’t a good way down the road, then let’s talk… but it’s long view right now, recognizing how frustrating this can be for fans.
@Rhodyfan200 asks: I’m curious as to why [Jeremy] Foumena redshirted. He looked good in the pre-season scrimmage.
CDD: I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of Foumena, his family, and the coaches thought process… but I’ll say this. I’m glad he redshirted, even with the Bilau injury 11 games in. Foumena is a physical specimen at 6-11, 235-pounds, and he presents even bigger in person. He’d add to the interior, but the impact a freshman big is going to make on this team is going to have a defined, modest ceiling. Maybe worth another 0.5 wins, 1 win??… And it’s a rebuild. Contrast that with giving him a year to acclimate to school, practice, work on individual skill development, conditioning, and be ready with four full years to join a young, upcoming core with a better understanding of how to involve him. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I like the chances of Foumena’s impact from 2023-2027 being greater than it would’ve been from 2022-2026.
Thanks for the question and let’s see how this one nets out!
Chris DiSano is Rhode Island’s color commentator for Learfield, an Atlantic 10 analyst, and writer. He has served as the host of A-10 Live! at Men’s Basketball Media Day and founded the former College Chalktalk. DiSano can be found on Twitter at @CDiSano44