Winter sports at the University of Rhode Island have come to a close with various postseason accomplishments, ranging from men’s basketball making the NIT to the men’s track and field team capturing a conference championship. It’s time once again to reflect back on the stars who stood out or slightly rose above the rest on each team.
Men’s Basketball – Hassan Martin
The easy pick would be E.C. Matthews, and rightfully so. Matthews poured in 16.7 points per game for the Rams this season and carried the squad for a good portion of their postseason run through the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and the NIT. He averaged 19.5 points per game and shot 39.2 percent from 3-point land over the course of their last four games, all at the playoff stage. However, it is arguable that fellow sophomore Hassan Martin means more to the success of Rhode Island than Matthews does. He was, along with senior Gilvydas Biruta, one of two Rams to start every contest this season and went from 6.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year to 11.4 and 7.7, respectively, in 2014-15. He also was top-7 in the country in blocks per game (3.2) and just outside the top 20 in field goal percentage (.598), but led the A-10 in both categories. He also turned the ball over far less than Matthews, who averaged 3.6 per game compared to Martin’s 1.3. As junior college transfer Earl Watson adjusted and Biruta had consistency issues, Martin anchored the tenuous Rams frontcourt with eight double-doubles and dual 16-rebound performances. Not to mention his performance in a 59-47 win against La Salle when he narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and 10 blocks (a new URI single-game record). He is going to be one of the best big men in Atlantic 10 for years to come…should he decide to stay that long.
Runner-up: Â E.C. Matthews
Honorable Mention: Â Gilvydas Biruta
Women’s Basketball – Charise Wilson
I would just like to go on record saying URI women’s basketball head coach Daynia La-Force was robbed of the A-10 Coach of the Year award. Granted, what George Washington head coach Jonathon Tsipis was incredible. The Colonials posted a 29-4 overall record with a 15-1 conference record before winning the Atlantic 10 altogether, after going 23-11 (11-5 A-10) last season. However, what La-Force did was unbelievable. She took a virtually moribund program that was averaging little more than a conference win per season and almost never escaped single-digit victories overall, and turned it completely around (17-13, 8-8 A-10). Freshman Charise Wilson was the catalyst of this change. The A-10 Rookie of the Year (and six-time Rookie of the Week) was fourth in the conference in scoring with 16.1 points per game, top-15 with 2.7 assists and fifth in steals with 1.8. The scary part is that she has only just completed her first year and can only keep getting better. She averaged about four turnovers per game, so there is still room for improvement. There is nowhere to go but up for her, though, especially after pulling off a 15-game double-digit scoring streak during which the team went 10-5.
Runner-up: Â Samantha Tabakman
Honorable Mention: Â Sydney Lewis
Women’s Swimming and Diving – Chaya Zabludoff
Some things never change, and Zabludoff’s consistency over the course of her Rhode Island career is one of them. Despite a lackluster team performance at the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, placing ninth out of 11 teams in a league only getting better, Zabludoff still had her moments. She finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle and was a key component on most of the relay squads that competed over that weekend. She at one point won the 500-yard freestyle three consecutive times to start the season, set records in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle records at the Harold Anderson Invitational and led the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays to victory on multiple occasions. She will be swimming for the Israeli national team soon, but her name will be embossed in the record books at URI for the foreseeable future.
Runner-up: Â Sarah Keshishian
Honorable Mention: Â Rachel Revolinski
Men’s Ice Hockey – Andrew Sherman
Sherman was a stalwart in net for Rhode Island this year and was a tremendous factor in their 30-win season. The senior went 22-8-2 over 33 games played and posted an 11th-best 1.98 goals-against average in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. His 1,942-plus minutes were near the top of the league, too, but he was perhaps the best in Division I at balancing a high volume of playing time and sharp defense. He posted one of the best save percentages (.937) and recorded five shutouts for the Rams, who finished with an overall Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League-best 62 points. Arguments could be made for some of his teammates, like sophomore Ray Boudiette and senior A.J. Chua. Boudiette led Rhode Island with 19 goals and 38 points during his first season as a Ram, while Chua had 35 points and notched a team-leading six game-winning goals. Without Sherman serving as an elite netminder, though, there is a good chance none of those statistics ever mattered.
Runner-up: Â A.J. Chua
Honorable Mention: Â Ray Boudiette
Women’s Ice Hockey – Sydney Collins
Collins stepped up for the women’s ice hockey team this season after senior goaltender Kayla DiLorenzo was dismissed and the Rams found themselves without anyone to guard the net. She played seven games and picked up a 6-0 record along the way. She averaged three goals allowed per game, which was good for top 25 in the ACHA, and stopped 85.4 percent of shots after spending several seasons as a defenseman and forward. On the other side of the puck, she registered 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists in 24 appearances. Some of her highlights this season included the game-tying score in an eventual Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League title game loss against Massachusetts, and an overtime winner against Vermont with three seconds left. The senior served as a valuable stopgap for Rhode Island when the Rams were in dire straits and until Sarah Ross could finish out the year as goaltender, and was her usual impressive self on offense too. The ACHA isn’t done with her yet either, because she will be back for a fifth season.
Runner-up: Â Kristy Kennedy
Honorable Mention: Â Cassie Catlow
Indoor Women’s Track and Field – Lauren Burke
Speaking of seniors emerging in an enormous role, Burke had her own share of successes during the indoor track season. Her relay team, also consisting of Dyshelle Pemberton, Keilan Nova and Mariah Claudio, broke their own record from one week prior in the 4×400-meter relay at ECACs a couple of weeks ago. The same squad finished second overall in that race at the New England Championships, too. Their 3 minutes and 49.93 seconds at the Atlantic 10 Championship qualified as the best-ever mark for the team in the 4×400 and captured second place. Burke also had a litany of personal successes this year. Her 1:13.99 finish in the 500-meter competition at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational set a new university mark, breaking the one she set at the New England Championships last year. Just to give some perspective on her dominance of the 500-meter event, she holds the sophomore, junior and senior record for it and six of the top 10 all-time finishes. Not a bad way to go out(side).
Runner-up: Â Emily Renna
Honorable Mention: Â Lauren Columbare
Indoor Men’s Track and Field – Ondrej Honka
The men’s track and field team has plenty of contributors to thank for their latest Atlantic 10 Championship, but sophomore and Czech Republic native Ondrej Honka is chief among them. His 4.80-meter clearance won him the pole vaulting competition and captured first in the heptathlon with 5,271 points. He won the pole vault and the 1000-meter run in the latter event, as well as taking second in the 60-meter dash with third place in the 60-meter hurdles. His efforts helped put Rhode Island ahead of George Mason, whom they would eventually beat out for the conference title. He took the top spot in the pole vault prior at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational (5.10 meters) and the URI Coaches vs. Domestic Violence Invitational (4.96 meters). The mark set at the Valentine Invitational launched Honka into the URI history books with the second-best jump ever. He also has an Atlantic 10 Co-Performer of the Week award under his belt when he started the new year with a victory in the URI Heptathlon. Much like he did months later at the conference championship, he won the pole vault and 1,000-meter run at the Heptathlon. If the Academic All-Conference Team member can continue to bring this consistency to competitions, indoor or outdoor, he can find himself back on this list in the spring.
Runner-up: Â Marlon Montague
Honorable Mention: Â Kebba Nasso
Statistics per GoRhody.com