Photo by Autumn Walter | Rhody won their season opener against the Pace Setters, with a score of 80-65.

Rhode Island basketball is back under first-year head coach David Cox. The Rams took down the Division II Pace University Setters 80-65 at the Ryan Center last Thursday night.

The Rams were able to get off to a fast start and never looked back. URI was led by returning juniors Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine as well as sophomore guard Fatts Russell. All three starters combined for 53 of URI’s 80 points. Dowtin also was able to hand out six assists and bring in two rebounds.

The focus wasn’t on the returning players though, as everyone had their eye on the newcomers to Kingston. Freshmen Dana Tate, Jermaine Harris, Tyrese Martin and Omar Silverio all made their much anticipated collegiate debuts. Named one of the best-recruiting classes in the Atlantic 10, these four are given the impossible task of filling the enormous shoes of the departed seniors. For Cox, these freshmen have a long way to go.

“They are freshmen and this was their first real game in front of a crowd and I expected the jitters,” Cox said. “A big crowd, popcorn smelling and referees on the floor it makes a difference.”

The nerves showed for big man Harris, who picked four fouls in a little over 10 minutes of playing time. Harris also was able to find the bucket twice for four points and bring down five rebounds.

Dana Tate, a four-star recruit, got the start alongside Dowtin, Russell, Langevine and redshirt junior Christion Thompson. Tate finished with six rebounds and six points as he was perfect from the charity stripe going 6-for-6.

Overall Cox was not pleased with the effort from both upperclassmen and newcomers.

“Our effort whether you’re a freshman or a senior we have high expectations for your effort on the floor and it just didn’t feel like the effort was quite there.” Cox went on to talk specifically about how his defense played.

“Our defensive effort was poor, we’ve built this culture on the defensive end and we defend at a very high level and we didn’t meet those goals today.”

URI will officially tip their season off on Tuesday, Nov. 6 as they take on in-state rival Bryant here in Kingston. Coach Cox ended the press conference on a positive note looking ahead to the season opener.

“Us coaches will chop this tape up, show it to these guys over the next couple days and we’ll get better,” Cox said.