In prep for tomorrow’s big rivalry game against URI, I exchanged some questions with Dave Ascoli who runs the URI Blog “Rhody Rampage“. Stay tuned for my answers to his questions on Thursday.
Friarblog: In one word, describe the Jim Baron era at URI.
Rhody Rampage: Interminable.
Friarblog: Speaking of Jim Baron vs. new head coach Danny Hurley. What’s been the most significant between the two so far?
Rhody Rampage: Organization. I wasn’t as big of a Baron hater as most Rhody fans (not a Baron lover either), but Baron’s basic MO was to recruit raw athletes and have them run on offense and press on defense. Ram fans soon realized that he did this to sort of mask that he couldn’t coach a half-court offense or a half-court defense, which led to a very hectic brand of basketball. Hurley is more organized, they’re getting into offensive and defensive sets, running plays, ball screens, pick n rolls, you name it. Might be a little more boring to the casual fan, but it’s also a whole lot less frustrating.
Friarblog: In 2009, The Rams beat a young Friars team (that would eventually go 11-19) at the Ryan Center. Although URI was favored by 5 and half points, the fans decided to storm the court. How did you feel about that?
Rhody Rampage: I was at that game and I actually don’t recall the storming of the court, but to be honest, at the end of the game I was a little busy, um, “passionately discussing the outcome of the game” with a few members of the Friar student section. Overall I think storming the court is totally overdone, and I’m sure you can find examples at every school where it could have been questioned post-game. Even though it seems silly after the fact, I don’t think anyone has ever accused a college student of not being impulsive enough.
Friarblog: What’s the best case scenario for URI this year? Worst case scenario?
Rhody Rampage: Coach Hurley said before the season that the goal is to make it to Brooklyn (where the Atlantic 10 Tournament is held). I would agree with him, and that’s likely the best case scenario, and it won’t be easy. Only the top 12 teams make it to the tourney, and with the A-10 expanding to 16 clubs this season it’s made things even more difficult. The worst case I think would be finishing in the bottom two of the league.
Friarblog: The Friars are most likely going to have 6 players available for the game. What is Coach Hurley’s gameplan going to be?
Rhody Rampage: I hope it’s going to be to run early and often. The Rams haven’t run much this year because they’re dealing with depth issues of their own, but they have nine scholarship players plus three walk-ons, so they’ll have the upper hand in the depth battle for once. If they can tire PC out, they should have an advantage.
Friarblog: If the Rams are going to beat PC, they are going to have to _____
Rhody Rampage: Stop Kadeem Batts. Or at least limit him. After watching the Mississippi State game, I became more afraid of this guy than I was before… and I was already pretty afraid. Rhody has had trouble limiting big men, and Batts could be one of the best they’ve faced so far. Ryan Brooks’ skills are limited, and Mike Aaman and Jordan Hare are still learning how to defend at this level… and that’s all Rhody has for big men… If the Rams allow Batts to take over this game, they’re in trouble.
Friarblog: Xavier Munford is leading the A-10 in scoring, and Ice Cotton is leading in the BIG EAST. Assuming Cotton’s knee is 100% healthy, who wins in a game of 1 on 1?
Rhody Rampage: Ughhh… that’s a tough one. Munford has been known to go cold at times – if he stays hot I think he wins it. If he has trouble finding his jumper…
Friarblog: Hurley has made some noise on the recruiting trail already nabbing several players the Friars were involved with, as well as a good transfer in Gil Biruta from Rutgers. What are the expectations going to be next season? Postseason or bust?
Rhody Rampage: We had a poll up on our site asking fans what player they’re most excited about for next season, and Biruta won it by a landslide. That said, I think fans might be a little too high on next year – they have two stud freshman recruits coming in, but I think the key word there is “freshman”. Next year I’m thinking it’s .500 or bust, and the post-season discussion starts the following season.
Friarblog: Let’s say you are doing a Rhode Island teams only fantasy draft where everyone (including ineligible players) is available. What are the Top 5 draft picks?
Rhody Rampage: In no particular order:
G Vincent Council
G Kris Dunn
G Ricky Ledo
F Kadeem Batts
F Gil Biruta
I picked four Friars. Ugh.
Friarblog: A couple of years down the road, will the Friars be conference mates with the Rams?
Rhody Rampage: With the conference realignment insanity, anything is possible. I don’t see Rhody joining the Big East anytime soon, but if the BE becomes more of a football conference and the Friars go elsewhere… who knows.
Friarblog: Who is your least favorite Friar of all time? Please note, if you say Ryan Gomes we can’t be blog friends anymore.
Rhody Rampage: As a huge Celtics fan, I can’t hate on Gomes, so I’ll go with God Shammgod. His chin-high dribble just infuriated me every time I saw it.
Friarblog: OK, final prediction time. How do you see this one playing out?
Rhody Rampage: If Rhody can run the Friars ragged, even if it involves bringing in the walk-ons to do it, I like their chances. But I think the game plan will fall somewhere in between “run like crazy” and the usual methodic set offenses we’re used to seeing. And like other Ram games this season, I expect it to be close. 65-61 Rhody.