E.C. Matthews, the fifth-year senior guard on the URI men’s basketball team, will miss 4-6 weeks due to a fractured left wrist.
Matthews sustained the injury on Monday night during the Rams road loss to the University of Nevada in Reno, Nevada. Late in the second half, Matthews had elevated toward the rim when he fell and braced his fall with his left arm. Matthews was helped off the court by trainers but did come back to the game after returning from the locker room. An x-ray was performed on Tuesday when the Rams returned home and confirmed the bad news.
This marks the second occurrence in his time at URI that Matthews will miss time due to a long-term injury. In the first game of the 2015-16 season, his junior season, Matthews torn his ACL and missed the rest of the year.
“We are in a much different place than we were a couple years ago,” Rams head coach Dan Hurley said on Wednesday afternoon. “It is a much different situation. It was opening night. He was out for the season. We were still trying to establish ourselves as a program. We are in a much different spot now. Our confidence level, experience, depth, we have enough guards to hold down the fort while he’s gone.”
The guard depth made up of Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett, Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell will certainly help the process of playing without Matthews. However, Hurley noted that he is still unsure of who will start in Matthews place.
This injury did not keep Matthews from staying active during Wednesday afternoon’s practice at the Ryan Center. Matthews was seen with his left arm in a cast, sitting in a chair dribbling a basketball with his right hand.
Hurley noted that Tuesday, the day after the injury, was tough on Matthews but his attitude has since changed. “When reality hit yesterday and he got the x-rays back there was definitely sadness,” Hurley said. “We [Hurley and Matthews] made a deal that he would go to bed sad, but this morning he would be positive, upbeat and make sure the teams ready to win while he’s not playing.”
Hurley said that the team has seen how hard Matthews has worked over the years and that has hurt his teammates, however, they have to continue to move forward and get wins in his absence.
“For us, it is business as usual,” Hurley said. “We have a deep group of guards, an experienced team and just feel like we are going to play real well while he’s gone and when he gets back it will be like picking up a great free agent.”
URI is the favorite to repeat as A-10 Champions come March. The Rams hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is certainly affected, however with Matthews projected to come back before A-10 play, the Rams can still win the conference.
With a timetable of 4-6 weeks in place, the Rams could expect Matthews back as early as URI’s home matchup with the College of Charleston on Saturday, Dec. 16 at the Ryan Center. The latest could be the Rams last scheduled nonconference game of the season on Wednesday, Dec. 27, against Florida Gulf Coast at home in Kingston.
Matthews will miss key nonconference matchup against Alabama and Providence College. Matthews will also miss the entirety of the NIT Preseason Tournament in Brooklyn New York on Thanksgiving. Rhode Island is set to battle No. 23 Seton Hall on Thanksgiving next week.
The Rams will play their first game without Matthews this Sunday at the Ryan Center when Rhody welcomes the College of the Holy Cross to town for a 1 p.m. tipoff.