Hope springs eternal. And this autumn it’s sprung in Kingston.
The University of Rhode Island has its best men’s basketball team in years – and the high expectations were evident at the first public practice of the 2014-2015 season Wednesday.
There are basically three metrics by which every URI team is judged by:
- Were you competitive in the Atlantic 10?
- Did you make it to the NCAA tournament?
- Did you beat PC?
A preseason poll predicts the Rams will finish a respectable sixth in the A-10 – and that’s better than it sounds. First of all there are 14 teams in the A-10 conference (because nothing makes sense about college basketball conferences anymore). And secondly, finishing sixth last year would have been earned a tournament invitation last year, reports the Providence Journal.
And for the team’s tournament chances, senior guard T.J Buchanan went Joe Namath after practice Wednesday.
“Put me on the record, yes, this is the year URI gets to the tournament,” he told a gaggle of reporters after the practice.
Along with sophomore sensation E.C Mathews, a 6’5″ guard with NBA potential, and a host of other young talent, Rhody really could have one of the most exciting backcourts in the country this year. The hurdles will be the playing defense and an inexperienced frontcourt. But like so many other great URI teams, they will run the ball and press full court, said coach Dan Hurley.
Making March Madness may be easier than winning state’s bragging rights this year.
This year the Rams will be more than tested by the time they travel to the Capital City to play the Friars on December 10. Next Saturday they host 21st-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers and then five days later they play Kansas, ranked 5 in the nation, on Thanksgiving Day. And they’ve already played 25th-ranked Harvard in an off-the-record scrimmage.
The regular season kicks off Friday night at the Ryan Center against Pace University.