Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

Rhode Island keeping perspective after tough loss

January 15, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – You can’t blame Dan Hurley if he felt frustrated and maybe in a bad place. He’s hyper-competitive and his team just lost a game that they controlled, and one where correspondingly they led most of the way. It’s a game they should have had in many respects. On Tuesday night, however, the Rhode Island mentor kept perspective, and he didn’t have to look far for an example of what he’s striving for.

“That’s a top team, obviously the class of our conference,” said Hurley after URI dropped a tough one to VCU on Tuesday. “It felt like we deserved a better result.”

URI did many things well. They controlled the game, and even did it not by slowing the game down against a VCU team that tries to speed opponents up. They played fast, too, and they beat pressure – whether in the backcourt or forecourt – with great movement without the ball and ball movement. They defended very well, taking VCU out of what they wanted to do. They had a 44-32 edge on the glass and a 42-28 edge in points in the paint.

You know Hurley and this young team are taking no moral victories from this one. VCU may have been the favorite in the eyes of many, but URI is good, too. Both teams entered the night at 3-0 in Atlantic 10 play. Both teams entered the night streaking, VCU having won eight in a row and URI having won six straight. For good measure, URI’s 3-0 start included two road wins. It was a more evenly-matched game than some might think given the programs’ recent respective histories.

“We’ve got some great young players, we just couldn’t finish,” said Hurley. “We’ve got such a good team, and you have to play 40 minutes to beat a team like that that has a chance to play deep into the NCAA Tournament. To beat them, you’ve got to play a full 40; we probably played a really good 35 minutes.”

When URI went up 51-43 on a dunk by Hassan Martin with 7:06 left, you had a feeling they might be on their way. They controlled the game for most of the night, they almost had their biggest lead (they led by nine just two minutes earlier), they held VCU to about 37 percent from the field, and VCU couldn’t even score at the foul line.

Then VCU came alive. Before you knew it, they tied it at 51 with eight unanswered points, but URI had another answer to get back up by five. They didn’t suddenly fall off after losing a lead they had for much of the game, as we see happen often. Then VCU took over, but URI still had a chance in the final minute. A turnover while down three doomed them. That’s when the experience different shined through.

“(E.C. Matthews) is a sophomore player, Hassan (Martin) is a sophomore player,” said Hurley. “These guys are going to learn to make those plays the way Treveon Graham is making those plays as a senior player. It’s not an easy thing to do in a game like that against an opponent like that.”

URI can come out of this game knowing that they can play with anybody. VCU has done nothing to dispel the notion that they are the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 thus far, and their good non-conference schedule and the wins they got place them into the top ten in RPI. URI had a chance to win this one. They didn’t, though, and while they can feel like they can play with anybody, they also know there is clear room to improve.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves here,” said Hurley. “Every time we get a chance to go out and play, it’s an opportunity to get a good win. There are no bad losses for us in this league. We feel like we’re going to improve and become a good team. That’s all we need to stay focused on. We’re not demoralized in losing to a top 20 team that’s the class of our league in a game where we probably out-played them for 90 percent of the game, 95 percent. We’re going to focus on building on this, working on improving on the things we struggled with. I don’t think we should feel bad about the way that we just performed. I have a lot of pride in our team. I’m excited to watch the film of this tomorrow with the guys, and I think they’ll feel better about themselves after they watch.”

Hurley is clearly taking a positive road right now and taking the long view. With this young group, there is clear upside, and there has been clear improvement. Tuesday night showed that, although not getting rewarded with a win stings. They wouldn’t necessarily be that much better had they managed to score six more points on Tuesday night, though they would have a different feeling from the outcome and that could boost them further. At this point, though, they will get better, beat many teams, and later, their level of play just might be enough to win a game like the one on Tuesday night.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – December 3, 2016

December 4, 2016 by


The first big Saturday of the college basketball season gave us all we could hope for, and it started right away. We have notes from a number of the day’s games right here.

Thanks to a big backcourt boost, Gonzaga should be even better this season

November 7, 2016 by


Gonzaga might have needed the West Coast Conference title they won in Las Vegas last year in order to be in the NCAA Tournament. With better guards, there should be no doubt about that this time around.

For the Big 12, coming out on top again will be a challenge in 2016-17

October 21, 2016 by


The Big 12 has been on a great run to be the top conference in recent years, including last year. This year will be a challenge due to a big loss of experience throughout the conference.

Hoopville Archives

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 and NBA Draft Early Entrants

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

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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.

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

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

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.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by


We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by


Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by


The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.