RHODY TAKES ON GEORGIA STATE SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27 AT 4PM ON YURVIEW, COX CHANNEL 4 IN RHODE ISLAND
After beginning the season 3-0, Rhode Island sputtered on its first road trip. The Rams split a pair in the Sunshine Classic, falling to Tulsa in a winnable game before defeating Boston College for the second time this season. Taking the circuitous route home, a true road tilt with Florida Gulf Coast ended in a disheartening one-point loss as the Rams lost grip on a 14-point lead thanks to poor second half execution on both ends.
Big time resume building win for @FGCU_MBB. Rhode Island is a contender in the A10 year in & year out.
They hung around with Loyola Chicago, hung around with USC & finally got the big win tonight. 👏🏻👏🏻#DunkCity | #WingsUp 🦅 https://t.co/zfUIhH4RBE
— Derek Kopp (@DerekKoppTV) November 24, 2021
A date with the Georgia State Panthers on Yurview at 4pm Saturday awaits. The suddenly wobbly Rams look to regain footing and confidence before an important pair of road games at Harvard and Providence next week.
Here’s a quick primer on this matchup.
PANTHER COACHING PEDIGREE:
I’m biased having gotten to know head coach Rob Lanier and assistant Chris Kreider through their days writing with College Chalktalk, my former website… they’re terrific men and basketball minds. Entering his third season at the helm, Lanier has the best winning percentage of any head coach at GSU through his first two campaigns and led the Panthers to the Sun Belt final last season. A St. Bonaventure grad and 4-year letterman, Lanier cultivated his coaching acumen at the highest levels for many years, spending time at Florida under Billy Donovan and most recently Texas and Tennessee as right-hand man to Rick Barnes. His staff is rounded out by Kreider, a consummate professional and one of the most well-rounded coaches in the business; Cliff Warren, Jacksonville University’s all-time winningest coach; and former NBAer Jarvis Hayes who spent time one the Morehouse College staff and brings a deep connection and understanding of the region to the staff. Undermanned (more on that below) or not, they’ll be prepared.
BUTTON IT UP:
Lapses in perimeter defense plagued Rhode Island on the trip. Former Duquesne and now FGCU hooper Tavian Dunn-Martin – who can frequently play out of control – torched the Rams repeatedly in the second half of Tuesday’s loss. Sure, the Rams have the Mitchells and Antwan Walker lurking in the paint to funnel drivers like TDM too… but the corps out high must give these helpers a chance. Know the scout, use appropriate angles, and take it personally. Tuesday’s game was checkered with turnstile defense. Against a guard-oriented Georgia State team, the perimeter containment must improve.
Irrespective of what is clicking offensively, if you’re going to commit frequent and untimely turnovers you won’t be effective. Rhode Island lost the FGCU game during a four-minute stanza midway through the second half; not in the final minute. The abject failure to execute on both ends which included four turnovers in six trips from the 15:02 and 12:24 mark of the second half dragged Rhode Island into a dogfight that should’ve never been. The modified Princeton offense requires everyone to handle the ball out high, but the touches should be purposeful. Receive, survey, and move the ball with conviction to keep the defense reactive rather than opportunistic. Avoid stagnant dribbling.
BLITZ EARLY AND OFTEN:
Jeff Goodman reported Thursday that Georgia State is making the trip with just seven scholarship players due to a combination of injuries and Covid-19 related absences. This includes two of its top three scorers in senior guards Justin Roberts and Corey Allen who are combining to average 35.9 points per game. Less talent and depth on the floor will impact the Panthers from productivity to pace – as a full-strength GSU is built to get up and down. Rhode Island has plenty of bodies to throw at the depleted Panthers over 40 mins. It’s an opportunity to overwhelm a decimated team and wear them down early.
Chris DiSano, is 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, who was named an NBC Sports top Atlantic 10 basketball follow, can be found on Twitter at @CDiSano44