#62 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #303 R.P.I. Rhode Island:
(5-3) Virginia Tech travels to play (1-7) Rhode Island on Wednesday nite up in the “Ocean State” or the “Providence of Plantations.” No, I have no idea what that means either, though I do know that that’s precisely how thin this preview already is vs. a team who beat Hofstra and has basically been waxed more than a Victoria’s Secret catwalk model vs. anybody with a pulse.
This just in, rain is rumored to be wet and this Rhode Island crew would be a bottom-5 scratch mark in the ole L column for Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech, should the unthinkable happen. Maybe more like a bottom-4 scratch mark at that; as this is just not a very talented looking men’s hoops program right about now.
That said, all-everything and 3-time Atlantic-10 coach of the year, one Head Coach Jim Baron can flat-out coach (v) and he does have two good players under roof with one of the best Power-Forward’s in the land on the way. The only catch is that that is about all he has up in Kingston Rhode Island, which means the 2011-2012 Rams regular season already has 2013 written all over it, and it shows.
Rhode Island at a glance:
- 93rd in rebounding margin (+4)
- 285th in turnover margin (-2.6)
- 328th in scoring defense allowed (78.6)
- 333rd in FG% defense allowed (49.8%)
Rhode Island backcourt:
The Rams backcourt has one really handsome looking player in its rotation and not a whole helluva a lot after that. #1 Jamal Wilson is a gifted 6`5“ 195 lb. senior scoring-Guard from Pennsylvania who can straight up put the biscuit in the basket. In fact his team leading 18.1 points per game is a staggering 354% scoring increase over last season. Can you say most improved player of the year frontrunner in the A-10? I can too, and while you are at it you should give Mr. Wilson his proppers for being number two in assists (2.1) and number one team wide in FT% at 83%. Wilson also leads the Rams in FTA’s nearly doubling up the beta-Ram with 46 total FTA’s already this season. It would be real nice if Rankin’s knee is having a good hair night can he can help keep Mr. Wilson away from the rim; because if VT can do that, the rest of the Rams backcourt won’t be able to do very much about it.
After Wilson, Mike Powell does what he can at the point-guard spot and does lead the Rams with 3.6 assists per game. In fact the 5`10“ 175 lb. freshman from Chi-town is at least a good year ahead of schedule and has been nothing short of a pleasant surprise despite his diminutive can’t dunk frame Mr. Powell does have one of only two break-even or better assists to turnover ratios on the entire Rams basketball squad this season! That’s one of two outta 10 guys who actually play! The other is fellow freshman Guard T.J. Buchanan (3 points per game) who is a two-time state champion winner from Kalamazoo Michigan. This kid knows what to do with the rock, though his fancy shooting mentality and showy handles sometimes write checks that his body can’t cash. Dominique McKoy is a freshman stud VHT (very highly touted) recruit outta the ATL (Atlanta area). McKoy is a 6`7“ 2o5 lb. ‘tweener who is logging some pitch-in backcourt minutes with 4 points and a couple of dimes (assists) on 48% from the floor off the Rams pine.
Rhode Island frontcourt:
Up front the Rams basically field two rebounders and one scorer. Orion Outerbridge is a 6`9“ 210 lb. senior who leads the Rams with 7.5 boards and 2.1 blocks per contests. On top of that he contributes a second-best 13.6 points per game. Not bad for a springy small-forward trapped in a power-forwards body that just will not fill out –making Mr. Outerbridge the Shawn Bradley of the A-10 if you will. Also getting you 7.1 rebounds per game would be Jonathan Holton, yet another freshman year baller who is a solid looking 6`9“ 224 lbs. already. Holton was a Miami area high school start who also nets you 10 points and a block on defense. Pitching in up front would be Levan Shengelia from Tabilisi Georgia; the country not the state. Levan blew out his knee last year and is still working his way back from that; however, he is knocking down a couple of points and a couple of boards off the Rams bench. The Rams do have the skyscraping 7`3“ 230 lb. project otherwise known as Blake Vedder (pic) over on the Rams bench; although Blake is more parts big and less parts everything else.
Closer and OPT digits:
In short, and to put this on its lowest ground, I find the opening line of Rhode Island+3 to be about as nuts as any opening line I’ve seen in many a year. Rhode Island does have a couple of new parts that may shine up nice and neat come the spring of 2014. However, that would be putting the cart before the horse or in this case the ram before the horns. Not a pretty visual when you let it coalesce on the tip of your mind’s eye … is it? Nor are the last, next-to-last or third-from-last Atlantic-10 pre-season predictions regarding these 2011-2012 Rhode Island Rams sporting fate. Coach Baron is a very good game-day X’s and O’s coach who is working off of a rather low 2011 floor with an accompanying 2012 ceiling that is not real far north of that. At least not for such a juvenile or freshmonic looking playing rotation as the Rams barely 7-mancurrent substitution pattern currently suggest.
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By my count, the Wilson kid could play in the A.c.c. and maybe even start at a Virginia Tech level Atlantic Coast basketball program. After that, Rhode Island has 1-3 kids who could make an Atlantic Coast roster depending upon where you look. After that Rhode Island has a buncha kids that the top-6 or so A.c.c. basketball schools would not even bother to recruit. In another 2-3 odd years, when these kids matriculate, grow-up, and fill-out, that should be enough to compete for or at least make some A-10 noise for Coach Baron. In the meantime –not so much. Unless of course Vegas knows something that I don’t?
Basketball is a streaky game by definition, a game of defensive stops or offensive runs. Hence, I pour myself into the recent 5-game trends in hoops. VT is 14% better from the FT stripe in the last five games than Rhode Island and the better defensive team across the board. That said, the Rams are the better rebounding team, and the slightly better offensive team of late. What really turned my head however is the fact that points are hard to come by for both teams of late, as Rhode Island and Virginia Tech have been stuck at <59 points in 6 of their last 10 collective games. Magic Johnson’s showtime vs. the likewise 1980 Denver McNuggets this one simply ain’t.
Ergo, I have to posit that this one will yet again not be easy on the eyes, well, if you can find a feed to see it that is. Not a whole lotta communal offense out on the court up in Kingston if you ask me. That means that this game comes down to individual match-ups, where VT should have the depth to eventually have the edge. Though not before some rough looking spots early on out on the road in a smallish Ryan Center A-10 gym.
Virginia Tech=66, Rhode Island=54