RHODY TAKES ON STONY BROOK TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15 AT 7PM LIVE ON YURVIEW – COX CHANNEL 4.
RAMS SEARCHING FOR FIRST WIN OF THE YOUNG SEASON:
Two games into the Archie Miller era the URI Rams are still searching for their first win after back-to-back defeats at the claws of Bobcat teams – Quinnipiac of the MAAC and Texas State of the Sun Belt.
For the Rams, role playing holdovers from a year ago are now top of the scouting chart subject matter. They’ve been paired with newcomers who are both equally talented and wet behind the ears when it comes to both this program and (for most) playing meaningful minutes at the Division I level. All are learning a new day-to-day approach, expectation-level of accountability, and system under Miller and staff.
What’s transpired are expected growing pains and hard lessons. Jagged inconsistent play at both ends of the floor. Some head scratching decisions. Occasional bright spots. Struggles getting stops or making plays in close and late situations. Two losses by 9 points combined.
The raw reality of rebuilding.
You don’t need me to tell you consistent guard play from anyone not named Ishmael Leggett and turnovers across the board (41 in two games, 342 of 356 nationally) are issues. Scoring will be challenging for this team for the foreseeable future. Defensive rebounding will be an area to monitor, though Miller’s quick adjustment to a longer, leaner starting lineup featuring both 6-foot-9 Abdou Samb and 6-11 Alex Tchikou will help.
With the Stony Brook Seawolves set to visit Kingston tomorrow night, let’s examine one bright spot, the young forwards, and learn a little about Geno Ford’s team as we set the table for the last game in Kingston prior to Rhode Island’s Cayman Islands Classic trip where the schedule jumps in degree of difficulty.
THE YOUNG FORWARDS:
Abdou Samb (11ppg, 5.5rpg, .750FG), Alex Tchikou (7.5ppg, 6.5rpg, .750FG), Rory Stewart (2ppg, 3.5rpg) and Louis Hutchinson (2ppg, 3rpg) all are providing productive minutes, with Samb and Tchikou leading the way.
What’s most impressive about Samb, a redshirt freshman from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is that he stays in his own lane – in a great way. His effort on both ends has been high-motor city, he battles for boards, is active in the paint and isn’t trying to do too much. He’s also shown a nice touch inside of 6’ and dropped an elbow jumper in rhythm against Texas State on Saturday. For a kid just two games into his playing career he’s been a pleasant surprise.
Tchikou is flush with talent. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound forward leads the team in boards despite ranking fifth in minutes. He’s been prone to overzealous fouls of commission that plague many freshmen, but Miller will accept these errors of commission from a player giving energy. As his calmness and comfort improve on the offensive end, look for his shot attempts to follow suit and jump from just a couple per game to somewhere in the five to seven range. Defensively don’t judge his impact upon seeing 0.5 blocks per game in his stat line right now. He is altering and deterring shots already – and he’s just scratching the surface.
Stewart, billed as a shooter coming in, still is – a shooter. He’s played two games and hasn’t calibrated to the game speed yet. Every level a player moves up, time and space are crunched. You have less time and less space to make decisions. Or, in the less frequent occasions where you do have both, you perceive less time and less space anyway and rush your movements. This is current-state Stewart. Sooner or later, whether it’s four, eight or 10 games in, it’s going to click. Once he knocks the first shot down, everything will begin to incrementally slow for him. And he’ll be on his way. In the meantime, his work-rate on defense has been terrific.
Finally, Hutchinson, a well-built freshman who was slowed by illness in the weeks immediately prior to the season, begins his acclimation. He’s averaging a shade over 10 minutes per game and contributing a couple of points and three boards per contest. He’s fundamentally sound and will continue to earn minutes because of his work ethic. As a longer-term piece, there’s so much to like about his mentality and approach to life and basketball. I’ve interviewed hundreds of college athletes in the last 15 years and his level of drive and introspection ranks among the tops of any.
STONY BROOK SNAPSHOT:
Unlike the first two squads Rhode Island played featuring guards, Stony Brook – in part by design and in part by necessity – offers a different look. The necessity portion is courtesy of an avalanche of injuries besetting the Seawolves, including several backcourt contributors who are on the shelf.
At present, they’re being carried by 6-foot-10 Kenan Sarvan (18.5ppg) and 6-7 Frankie Policelli (12ppg). Both can really shoot it – helping Geno Ford’s team space the floor. It’s a change of pace and personnel from guard-laden Quinnipiac and Mason Harrell led Texas State – and the Rams will need to be ready to communicate out high as they defend ball screen actions involving these two skilled forwards.
Lots more information on the Seawolves on the Learfield Varsity App pregame show with Steve MacDonald and I beginning at 6:30pm tomorrow – and of course via YurView’s coverage of the game tipping off on Cox channel 4 and ESPN+ at 7pm tomorrow evening. We hope you’ll join us.
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 NBC Sports top Atlantic 10 basketball follow on Twitter for five straight years, can be found on Twitter at @CDiSano44