Thomas M. Ryan Center, Kingston, RI
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
TV: Cox Yurview TV
Radio: 101.5 FM (B101) or iHeart Radio App
10-8, 3-2 in the Atlantic 10
Last season: 15-18, 4-14 in Atlantic 10
RPI: 170 (190.3 expected)
Points - Luwane Pipkins, 19.8
Rebounds - Malik Hines, 6.4
Assists - CJ Anderson, 5.8
Last Five (3-2)
1/15/18 JOES W 72-69
1/10/18 LAS W 86-79 (OT)
1/6/18 @DAY W 62-60
1/3/18 GMU L 80-72 (OT)
12/30/17 @SBON L 98-78
Roster and Statistics
Matt McCall, Head Coach (1st Year) - Florida '04
Cliff Warren, Assoc. Head Coach - Mount St. Mary's '90
Rasheen Davis, Asst. Coach - St. Thomas Aquinas '02
Peter Gash, Asst. Coach - Lynn University '07
Cross-border rival UMass comes to the Ryan on Wednesday in the midst of an up-and-down transition year under the helm of new head coach Matt McCall, who arrived in Amherst seemingly randomly after they initially had hired Pat Kelsey from Winthrop to replace the fired Derek Kellogg. Kelsey backed out between a lunch with the AD and a 4PM press conference announcing him as the new coach, after having agreed to take the job, coming to campus and meeting the players. Who is to say what caused Kelsey to back away, but it definitely didn't help with the impression that things were falling apart quickly in Amherst for a program that had somewhat recently gone to the NCAA tournament and had a highly ranked recruiting class under Kellogg.
In the process of the coaching change, the Minutemen lost two of their prized freshmen, Dejon Jarreau and Brison Grisham, who came to UMass together from New Orleans and transferred together to Houston, as well as their leading scorer Donte Clark who left for Coastal Carolina as a grad transfer, plus four other players: Zach Lewis (Iona), Tyrn Flowers (LIU Brooklyn), Zach Coleman (LIU Brooklyn) and Seth Berger (Oregon State). In response, they've brought in five transfers who are sitting this season: Jaylen Brantly (Maryland), Kieran Hayward (LSU), Jonathan Laurent (Rutgers), Keon Clergeot (Memphis) and Curtis Cobb (Fairfield). As a result, UMass has relied on a rotation of essentially eight players (and seven if Rashaan Holloway remains suspended - he hasn't played since the George Mason game on January 3rd). Senior CJ Anderson, the leading assist man for UMass, also sat one game - the road win at Dayton - and has not started since (I expect him to return to the starting lineup Wednesday, but that is just a guess).
The eight (and sometimes seven) man skeleton crew for UMass is led by super sophomore Luwane Pipkins, who is averaging 19.8 ppg and has put up 27, 44 and 25 in their last three games - all wins, the latter two of which were impressive comeback wins and the other was an always impressive win at Dayton. URI will have to account for Pipkins, and if Holloway returns Wednesday (would not shock me), he will present a real challenge to URI's frontcourt with his size. I guessed in another thread that we might see slightly more Jarvis than usual and that he might be asked to reprise his role taking Kyron Cartwright out of the PC game against the similarly sized Pipkins.
When I look at this game, I see a UMass team that is 1-6 away from the Mullins Center this season; that has scored fewer and allowed more points than URI on average, and against a much less competitive schedule; and plays a much shorter rotation that may be prone to wearing down against URI over the course of 40 minutes. Still, this is a UMass team that has beaten Providence, Georgia (who stomped Alabama) and at Dayton (who is admittedly down, but still has one of the best homecourt advantages in the A10). They've also lost to George Mason, Georgia State and Quinnipiac. So like I said off top, they've been up and down.
Look, it is hard for me to view a remotely competent UMass team as a pushover, especially with a guy who could theoretically take the game over and put up 40 points - they've handed me too many heartbreaking losses in my life as a URI fan. But this is a game Rhody should win, and with this version of URI's basketball program I'm finally confident that we will win games like this. It looks like McCall is assembling some pieces that should allow UMass to turn things around relatively quickly, and they've already shown some signs of life in his first season, but with where the two programs are today, I think Rhody rolls, continues its march through the A10 and continues to hold serve on its home floor.