Video courtesy of ESPN+ and Cox YurView.
Rhode Island has excelled this season in the second year under Head Coach David Cox. Fatts Russell has blossomed into a star, Jeff Dowtin is solid as ever as a floor general, and Tyrese Martin has become a dependable wing scoring option along with crashing the glass with a fury for his position.
Arguably, the most significant development this Rams roster has had to offer so far in the 2019/2020 campaign is senior big man Cyril Langevine’s bump in assist numbers, and his court vision in general.
Langevine has amassed 36 assists on the season so far in 20 games played, already seven more than he finished with last year. In conference play alone Langevine is averaging 2.4 assists per game, and comes in at third on the URI roster in assists behind only Russell (95), and Dowtin (58).
The big fella has had five games on the season where he’s picked up at least three assists. In such games Rhody is 5-0, and averages 77.6 points per game. So what’s led to the passing renaissance from one of the Atlantic 10’s most imposing post players?
“We’ll give him elbow catches, we’ll give him catches at the top of the key,” said Cox. “He’s been making really good decisions as of late. He’s always been a really good passer. He’s played a little bit fast at times. He had to get used to playing with the basketball in his hands, out in space while being guarded. I think he’s starting to see it, the games slowing down for him, and he’s making really good decisions.”
Let’s see just exactly what Coach Cox is talking about here.
Here Langevine gets the ball into his hands, with space at the point. He’s picked up by big man Michael Hughes of Duquesne, who’s giving him a healthy cushion. An obvious help here is Fatts speed, as he’s able to fake like he’s receiving a handoff and absolutely dust Sincere Carry on a backdoor. The bounce pass from Langevine is more than on the money as he hits his point guard in stride for an easy deuce.
On Hawk Hill Langevine’s three assists all came in the second half, with the above being my personal favorite. Langevine is set up at the beginning of this action as, dare I say, a true facilitator. A handoff, screen, and roll sets him up to operate on the low block. In years past we might see Cyril put his head down and just try out-muscle whoever may be on him, which the Hawks are expecting as three players collapse into the lane to stop just that. Recognizing this Langevine hits a cutting Mekhi Long with a beautiful feed to set up the layup.
Admittedly, this isn’t much of a pass. It really isn’t a pass at all, although it’s a terrific indicator of how comfortable Langevine can be with the ball in his hands on the perimeter. He’s in the same spot on the floor he was in the first video we looked at against Duquesne, with Fatts in the corner ready to run a similar action. Instead of opting for that backdoor cut (mostly because of the 6’10” frame of Anthony Longpre choking the paint) Russell comes up to receive the handoff from Langevine, who’s able to free him with a screen for an open three.
For URI, it has been the Fatts show this season, with the junior guard clearly playing as the best player in the conference not named Obi Toppin. However, strides such as Langevine’s improved vision and awareness as both a ball handler and passer has freed up even more space for the Rhody offense to operate. While Langevine has zero career three’s to boast, his footwork and ability to move fleetly on the perimeter has the potential to, and at times has worked to unclog the paint and completely open up what Rhode Island can do on the offensive end.