The Rhode Island Rams men’s basketball team finds themselves under .500 for the first time all season following their worst effort in years, losing by 34 points to Virginia Commonwealth University on Tuesday night. The Rams were able to muster a grand total of 42 points in a 40 minute basketball game.
That’s not what matters to me.
What matters is the apparent lack of interest and awful body language the team displayed on CBS Sports Network Tuesday night. It was a team without pride. An embarrassment. The culture that has been built up block by block ever since Dan Hurley stepped foot onto the Kingston Campus, is now nowhere to be found. Simply put, “Rhode Island Basketball,” currently does not exist.
Rhode Island had more turnovers than made shots, and barely eclipsed 30 percent shooting from the field. They played like a team that simply did not give a crap about the job they had to do in front of them. They played like a team that has given up on the season. This is what is unacceptable about this losing streak URI is on.
As long as the effort is there, as long as the growth is there, it never mattered if this team went on a losing streak. That tends to happen with young and inexperienced teams. What’s unacceptable is the utter lack of heart the Rams have displayed as they now have dropped six of their last seven games.
It seems like a waste of time to harp on what happened Saturday against Fordham following a drubbing like Rhody received at VCU, but it’s still important to. Basketball is a funny game. So often the difference between winning and losing happens in just a few plays throughout a game. You can scrap, claw and fight for an entire game, only to come up short because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rhode Island found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time one too many times against Fordham this past Saturday.
Execution in winning time is maybe the most important skill a player, or team can have in the game of basketball. It’s a skill that isn’t flashy or doesn’t show up in a box score, but it’s as important a skill as a 40-inch vertical jump, freak athletic ability, or being able to bury long-range jumpers at will. For URI, no one has been able to consistently step up in winning time.
From an execution standpoint, the Rams have been less than ideal, especially in the game’s biggest late stretches. There are no better examples of this from this year than the ones I saw against Fordham.
It was Dana Tate’s technical foul for yelling in Nick Honor’s face after he swatted a layup. It was Christion Thompson missing the front end of a one and one with 32 seconds left in a two point game. It was Tyrese Martin’s lane violation on a Fordham missed free throw, that allowed a second chance. It was Fatts Russell turning the ball over with five seconds left in regulation that almost lead to a game winning layup (Although to his credit, he made a dazzling steal to stop that from happening).
It was the worst three point shooting team in the country having forty seconds left to make something happen, and instead of going for a two then foul and extend the game they jacked up four threes, which all missed. For how good of a home court advantage the Ryan Center is, especially in conference and especially when playing a team like Fordham who is in the basement of the Atlantic 10, the Rams could not get out of their own way.
Davidson on Friday night, in my opinion, is the definition of must win. There is still time to redefine this year’s campaign for this young team. There’s still time to claw their way back from the pit they’ve cast themselves into. It starts with a win against a team that’s second in the Atlantic 10. It can be done, but it needs to start with a consistent effort for a full 40 minutes. We’ll see if the Rams have the heart to do it.