Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Bad Home Stretch For Rhode Island

February 27, 2008 Columns No Comments

Rams Struggle In Key Home Stretch

by Phil Kasiecki

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – The past week wasn’t one for the books as far as Rhode Island is concerned. The Rams’ key stretch has come and gone, and along with it, at least most of the hope the home team had of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday’s 90-83 loss to Saint Joseph’s capped a three-game homestand for Rhode Island that looked to be a vital stretch in the season. The Rams’ record in that span was 0-3, which is certainly not what the doctor ordered. After this stretch, they have a 6-7 record in Atlantic 10 play and their NCAA Tournament hopes look to be in trouble, something that was unthinkable a month ago.

The Rams went up against three good teams, but the reality is that if you are to be an NCAA Tournament team, you have to beat some good teams along the way. There’s no shame in last Monday’s loss to Xavier, a team that is a sleeper Final Four contender, although it was a missed opportunity for a signature win. But Thursday night’s loss to UMass and Sunday’s loss to Saint Joseph’s are games a team like Rhode Island needed to win if an NCAA Tournament bid is to come, save for being victorious the night before Selection Sunday in Atlantic City.

The past week was a chance for Rhode Island to put itself in a solid position for an NCAA Tournament bid. Three wins, or even two with a loss to Xavier, would have put the Rams at either 9-4 or 8-5 in Atlantic 10 play with three to go. If they even went 1-2 in the final three games after a good week of home games, they would have a winning conference record, which might be enough given the conference’s strength, the separation Xavier has achieved from the rest of the pack and the weakness at the bottom. But now the Rams need to win three straight to get to 9-7.

“We’re struggling. I don’t know any way to put it,” said senior forward Will Daniels.

The Rams’ struggles are most pronounced on the defensive end, as they have been for most of the season. Even early on, when they started off 14-1 and were nationally ranked in the polls, the Rams were often out-scoring teams. Opponents shoot over 43 percent against the Rams on the season, but in Atlantic 10 play that number jumps to 46.6 percent. In the three losses this past week, only UMass shot below 50 percent – at 48.4 for the game – and the three teams combined to shoot 54 percent from the field.

Rams head coach Jim Baron wanted to get a “Runnin’ Rams” style going last year, and that continued this year. While his teams have historically played good defense, having to grind out low-scoring wins in recent seasons wasn’t characteristic of many of his teams, either. He said he’s always been a “scoring” coach. If the play of late is any indication, his team may have gone too far in the opposite direction.

“We put a lot of emphasis on changing and really pushing the ball, and I just didn’t think we would be giving up this many easy buckets,” said Baron after Sunday’s game. “We emphasized pushing the ball and scoring. Early on, in January, I thought we were doing a good job of defending.”

The players have spoken about defense all season as well, so it’s not as if it became issue for the first time last week. They have talked about working on that aspect of the game even when they were winning.

On Sunday, the defensive issues were very clear. Every other possession, it seemed, Saint Joseph’s got an open look; Baron noted this after the game. When they had an open shot, most of the time it went down, which basically gave them easy points even from behind the arc. The Hawks were 9-16 on three-pointers on Sunday. For the game, Saint Joseph’s shot 62.2 percent, just behind their season high against rebuilding Fairleigh Dickinson to open the season.

Baron has talked often about the team’s need to get better. While many coaches say that, it’s not one of the many examples of coach-speak. As the season goes on, opponents have more to draw from when scouting a team, so teams have to be able to adjust, especially if they can’t dictate the flow of the game. Additionally, teams inside a conference are more familiar with one another than they are with teams outside the conference from playing each other every season.

Right now, it looks like this team was better earlier in the season, and that’s not a good thing. Their players have picked up on this as well as the coach.

“As the season goes along, you have to play better every game,” said Daniels. “You have to get better progressively every game. We haven’t done that yet.”

Now that the Rams have added some losses, including a few tough ones, it doesn’t get easier. That adds in more adversity than they’ve had to face all season, and at a critical time. Three straight home losses is never easy to absorb, and they have lost five of six overall. It makes bouncing back that much more difficult, but it’s also something they need to do now more than ever.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a lot of what has happened in the ACC and SEC, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge, whether or not Kentucky is turning a corner, as well as the story at Michigan State.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a wild night in the Big Ten, adversity and a quiet leader in the ACC, what to make of Kentucky and look ahead to the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.