The facts are out there surrounding the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team. The Rams own the nation’s third best winning streak with 14 straight victories, Rhody ranks sixth best in the nation in RPI and for the third straight week URI finds themselves in the AP Top 25 Poll.
AP POLL ALERT: Villanova, Virginia, Purdue top AP Top 25 for fourth straight week; Duke slides to No. 9 after loss to St. John’s. Lots of changes in poll with losses, see it all here: https://t.co/eT6s6KVsmd pic.twitter.com/GGussb2CGr
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) February 5, 2018
The facts are nice but there is just something different that no game statistic can explain. It’s just a feeling surrounding the Rhody Rams. There is a sense of pride across Kingston and, perhaps even, across the state.
Maybe I’m crazy but I think most URI fans would agree with me. The hype and attention toward the program nationally continues to grow. But, more important than that, the attention from the state of Rhode Island and the University as a whole continues to grow. Rhode Island games have become can’t miss appointments for college basketball fans in the state.
The team is fun to watch. Fans have bought into the guard heavy, defensive squad that Dan Hurley has assembled. Not only have they bought in but they are proud of the team. The team’s success has become theirs, too.
It seems like even in the ugly games Rhode Island has played, someone different always steps up. Take Rhode Island’s victory over the Duquesne Dukes as an example. The Rams, despite trailing by as much as 15, get the victory courtesy of a Stanford Robinson corner three at the buzzer.
🚨BUZZER BEATER ALERT 🚨@RhodyMBB Stanford Robinson called game! pic.twitter.com/NSHRoRCcRo
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 27, 2018
There have been a total of seven different Rams to have 18-point or better performances this season. This diverse scoring and hard-nosed brand of basketball has become the identity of the team and the fans LOVE it. This started during the non conference schedule and has continued through Atlantic 10 play. Between freshman Fatts Russell’s 20-point game against Providence, to Jared Terrell’s game-winning lay-up against the Seton Hall Pirates on Thanksgiving, URI fans have seen their squad beat good, NCAA resumé building opponents with exciting performances from almost every player.
Whether it’s a premiere matchup or a dog fight (with a team Rhode Island was favored to beat by 15-plus) URI is finding ways to win.
What Hurley’s Rams are doing is unprecedented in the history of the program, that certainly creates and continues the hype. URI checked in at No. 18 in this week’s AP Poll, the highest the program has ever been in the poll. Fans take pride in that. They take pride in not just seeing a number next to Rhode Island, but that number continues to get smaller. It started as No. 24, then shrunk to No. 22 and now stands at No. 18. As that number gets smaller the crowd sizes get larger for Rhode Island.
URI with its highest ranking in school history at No. 18. Danny Hurley has the Rams at 19-3 overall and 11-0 in the A-10.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 5, 2018
The Rams return home on Friday to take on the Davidson Wildcats. Rhode Island will be one full week removed from their 81-68 victory over VCU at the Siegel Center in Richmond. There is a sell-out crowd expected at the Ryan Center on Friday and deservingly so. URI will be looking to stay undefeated at home and their 15th consecutive win. These next three games are big for Rhody as the Rams face the second, third and fourth place teams in the A-10 over the course of eight days. Rhode Island has home match-ups with the likes of Davidson and Richmond and then a road game vs. St. Bonaventure.
This is a fun time to be a Rhode Island Ram. Last year was special, but I think this is the season most fans have been waiting for. Consistency is key and the Rams have fans hooked. Students will be out in full force and the Ryan Center will be rocking come Friday. The Rams continue to roll and the buzz in Kingston is getting louder. Embrace it, URI. This team is yours.
Stone Freeman is a URI Junior Journalism major and rabid Rams fan. He calls URI’s home games on both YurView and URI student radio station WRIU 90.3 FM.