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2/20/2023 11:28 pm  #1

GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Fresh off a Road win vs Saint Bonaventure, GW heads back on the road to take on Rhode Island

Does GW make it back to back road wins to get to 8-7 in A10 play???



2/21/2023 11:00 pm  #2

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Rhode Island Rams

Date/Time: Wednesday February 22nd @ 7:00 PM ET at The Ryan Center in Kingston, RI.
Preseason Ranks: 140th (KenPom), 132nd (Bart Torvik), 121st (Sports Illustrated)
2021-22 Record: 15-16, 5-12 (11th in A10)
2022-23 Projected Record: 10-20, 6-12 (T-13th in A10)

Head-to-Head: 34-30, and GW has won the last three meetings after previously losing six of the previous seven before that. Last year's meeting in Kingston may have been the high point in what was otherwise a pretty forgettable season. The game didn't start off well, as GW dug themselves into a quick 18-3 hole just nine minutes into the game. GW gradually chipped away at the deficit, eventually going up by 1 with 10 minutes left in the second half on a made JB layup. 10 of our final 15 points after that point came from free throws (JB was the only Colonial to make a FG in the final 10 minutes).

It didn't happen very often in the JC era but we did run a successful play out of a timeout with the game tied at 60 with a minute left to play. JB drove downhill off a screen and made a jumper from the left side. Fortunately a Hunter foul only resulted in a 1/2 FT trip from a URI squad that hasn't been particularly good from the line in recent years (they were an abysmal 15/31 in that contest - that's the game right there along with a 2/19 performance from 3). The next offensive possession for GW was not as successful - if I remember correctly Joe had his jumper blocked and by that time there wasn't much time left on the shot clock to get a good look off an inbounds. Following a slip from Sheppard, Qwanzi split a pair of FTs to put us up two and we were fortunate that El-Amin missed a slightly rushed three that was a good look. We pretty much executed down the stretch as well as we could have outside of the fact that Qwanzi should have thrown a pass ahead after getting the steal. That would have ended the game but because he held on to the ball URI was able to foul him and had a chance to eventually win.

GW held on to win despite dealing with major foul trouble (a running theme the past few years). While URI had three players with 4 fouls (Makhi Mitchell, El-Amin, Sheppard) GW had five players with 4 - Hunter, Q, Bray, Joe, and BA. Thankfully we didn't go to overtime otherwise we may have had to play Amir, Bryan Knapp, and Tyler Warner (who did make a shot earlier in the game - wonder where he's at now) next to JB.

The return game in Foggy was less memorable. URI again struggled from 3 and the FT line, shooting 23% and 44% respectively. Foul trouble played less of a role. Pretty much the only thing I remember from that contest was one of the Mitchell twins getting a technical at the FT line for refusing to tuck in their jersey. That was one of the strangest techs I've ever seen in a CBB game.

Offensive Efficiency: 306th (KenPom), 296th (Bart Torvik)
Defensive Efficiency: 144th (KenPom), 129th (Bart Torvik)
Pace: 182nd (KenPom), 182nd (Bart Torvik)
Offensive Shot Quality Rank: 235th
Defensive Shot Quality Rank: 177th
Rim & 3 Rate: 75% (241st)

Strengths (OOC Play):
Offensive Rebounds Per Game (T-34th)
Free Throws Made Per Game (52nd)
Free Throw Attempts Per Game (67th)
Free Throw Percentage (70th)
Rebounds Per Game (T-72nd)
Three Point Percentage Defense (75th)
Fastbreak Points (T-83rd)
Rebound Margin (T-88th)

Weaknesses (OOC Play):
Steals Per Game (T-256th)
Turnovers Forced Per Game (264th)
Fouls Per Game (266th)
Scoring Margin (282nd)
Winning Percentage (T-297th)
Assist Turnover Ratio (311th)
Scoring Offense (T-314th)
Turnovers Per Game (T-314th)
Three Point Percentage (325th)
Three Point Attempts Per Game (327th)
Turnover Margin (T-327th)
Field Goal Percentage (333rd)
Three Pointers Per Game (335th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage (340th)

Key Returning Players:
Ishmael Leggett (Sophomore; Washington, DC) 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 spg; 37% FG, 32% 3-PT, 69% FT
      Last Season @ URI: 11 points, 9 rebounds; 2-9 FG, 0-4 3-PT, 7-8 FT in 32 minutes.

Malik Martin (Senior; Staten Island, NY) 7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1 apg; 51% FG, 26% 3-PT, 67% FT
      Last Season @ URI: DNP (Right Knee Injury)

Jalen Carey (RS Junior; Harlem, NY) 5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.2 apg; 43% FG, 47% 3-PT, 66% FT
      Last Season @ URI: 3 points; 1-5 FG, 1-3 3-PT in 12 minutes.

Key Losses:
Makhel Mitchell (Transferred to Arkansas; Washington, DC) 10.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 2.4 bpg; 50% FG, 53% FT
Makhi Mitchell (Transferred to Arkansas; Washington, DC) 9.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg, 1.4 bpg; 52% FG, 30% 3-PT, 52% FT
Jeremy Sheppard (Graduated; Richmond, VA) 9.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.4 spg; 38% FG, 34% 3-PT, 80% FT
Antwan Walker (Transferred to Bryant;  Washington, DC) 7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 apg; 56% FG, 40% 3-PT, 51% FT
Ishmael El-Amin (Graduated; Minneapolis, MN) 6.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.1 apg; 43% FG, 42% 3-PT, 91% FT

Things were looking up for the Rhode Island program just five seasons ago. After a few years of understandable transition between longtime head coach Jim Baron and Dan Hurley the Rams were starting to exert their dominance in the A10. URI won over 20 games in three of Hurley's final four years at the program including back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament. They even won a game in each of those trips against Creighton and Trae Young's Oklahoma squad. Following Hurley's promotion to take over UConn, it seemed like a no-brainer to keep the culture intact and promote David Cox to head coach.

Even though we lost Brayon Freeman to URI last offseason, "technically" URI gifted us two players before that. Hurley's departure to UConn resulted in BA, who had originally committed to URI at the time, to follow him to Storrs and Amir, who was Rhody's third commit in 2018 to change his commitment to Nebraska. Had Hurley remained in Kingston we not only would have had to go against both players but they probably wouldn't have considered transferring to GW (I'm forgetting when the inter-conference extra sit out year was dropped but I don't think it was at that point). A Bray trade for BA and Amir seems like a fair trade (of course before Freeman was dismissed from their team).

Rhody continued their winning ways for the first two years under Cox, winning 39 games across those seasons. Looking back, that stretch was very similar to how Mojo fared in his year as interim head coach following ML's departure. The Rams were led by Fatts Russell and two NBA talents in Jeff Dowtin and Tyrese Martin who were all Hurley recruits. It was a bit surprising to see Cox get canned just two years removed from a 20 win season with COVID impacting the seasons after that but it definitely signaled commitment to winning from the AD. Having said that, Rhody looked poorly coached the past two years without Hurley's players so I get why the move was made. Last year's Rhode Island squad in particular severely lacked chemistry. It was a blessing in disguise that the Mitchell twins did not come to GW despite us offering both of them out of HS.

AD Thorr Bjorn backed up his decision to move on from Cox last offseason by bringing in Archie Miller, which generated much buzz and excitement in The Ocean State. Miller did not exactly get the Indiana program off the ground from 2017-2021 - a single NIT appearance is a major disappointment. However, he got that job by winning consistently at Dayton - 139 wins to be exact with four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. It was certainly a worthwhile gamble by Bjorn to get someone with proven success in the league. What happens in year 2 and beyond is anyone's guess but I have mentioned in previous previews that winning at the best job in a conference can be misleading. At a program like Dayton that has so much support it would be a surprise to do terribly. Additionally, while I do think Miller is a good coach and will turn things around there his success at Dayton was partly due to his ability to develop players and build a consistent, stable program. While player transfer still happened then it wasn't quite at the rate that players switch programs now. Bringing Bray in ended up being a mistake, but the key moving forward will be his ability to develop the freshmen they are bringing in next year and beyond.

One last note regarding the Bray acquisition last offseason. Miller obviously couldn't have anticipated what happened during the season and Freeman was expected to be a key piece for the next few seasons at URI. Before committing to GW, Trey Autry was also considering Rhode Island and Cincinnati. By all accounts, it seemed earlier in his recruitment that he was keen on URI but I think the number of guards they signed from the transfer portal (Anthony Harris was also coming in from North Carolina but hasn't played due to academic reasons) ended up changing his mind and he then considered the playing time available at GW. Had Bray not gone there perhaps Trey would have committed to Miller and the Rams. It's hard to say whether that was a swing factor but it cannot be discounted as a possibility.

The Miler era did not exactly get off to a great start as Rhody went 4-8 OOC (their final non-conference game against Milwaukee was canceled due to COVID within the URI program). URI's losses early on against Quinnipiac and Kansas State have aged better as both programs have had better than expected years, but a three game losing streak that included losses to Boston College and Brown were less than ideal (along with a loss to a Georgia State squad that is rebuilding this year).

During conference play, Rhody has defeated Dayton and St. Bonaventure like us but they've also beaten Fordham and La Salle which we haven't done. None of their four wins have been by more than 5 points so I'd be stunned if the game wasn't at least close tomorrow. Like Bonaventure, we are catching the Rams at the right time as they are currently on a five game losing streak. Rhody has not won a game in over three weeks.

It's no secret that this URI squad is a bit offensively challenged. If they aren't able to get points in transition they struggle mightily to put points up on the board. The Rams look to generate offense by getting to the FT line (where they shoot a pretty good 74%) and hitting the glass to earn second chance opportunities. It's pretty much a broken record with this team, but the keys tomorrow will be foul trouble and rebounding. Fouls weren't an issue in the Bonaventure game, but URI plays very differently and embraces contact. GW is one of the better teams in the conference in defensive rebounding but that will be very much tested against the Rams. If the rebounding advantage is relatively negligible for Rhody and Hunter/Ricky haven't fouled out we should be in good position. Obviously JB and BA have to make their shots but Rhody's offense is poor enough that we might be able to survive an off night from one of them. They don't shoot a lot of threes or shoot them well, and the only way they will get steals on defense is if we are careless with the ball (which may still happen!). They want to make the game ugly and nearly defeated VCU at home a couple games back playing that way. Watch Rhody have a hot night shooting after I said all that...

With Bray out of the fold, Rhody will lean on sophomore Ishmael Leggett and Syracuse transfer Jalen Carey to put points up on the board.

If URI was a bit better, Leggett may have been challenging BA for most improved player in the league if we are looking at pure production alone. He is scoring nearly eight points more per game compared to last year and his efficiency has actually improved after experiencing a second year slump. Leggett is shooting a career best 84% from the FT line and aims to get there early and often driving down hill. He has four conference games where he's attempted at least ten FTs. Leggett is also rebounding the ball very well for his size with nearly 6 boards a game. Given he's 2/11 from 3 in their past couple of contests, perhaps we dare him to shoot jumpers. Our zone looks were successful against Bonaventure and I would be stunned if we don't go back to the 3-2/1-3-1 at least for part of the game tomorrow.

Carey, like Leggett, is putting up career numbers scoring-wise and from the line. He's just a hair under 10 ppg while converting 83% of his FTs. Carey did go 14/30 from 3 last year but his numbers from deep have crashed back down to his career 26% average and he is only 8/40 this season. He has had 10 or more FG attempts in five of their past six contests (and each of their past four especially now that Freeman has departed) but has only posted double figures in half of those games. If we can keep him around 8-10 points (his season average), that would be a success.

Two other returners from last season join Leggett and Carey in the starting lineup in Charlotte transfer Malik Martin and sophomore Sebastian Thomas.

Martin is the younger brother of former Rhody Ram Hassan Martin and put up 12 points/9 rebounds against us in Foggy Bottom after sitting out in the game at their place due to injury. He has only scored in double figures in six games this season and just two in conference play - Rhody won both those contests. Martin has never been a particularly strong three point shooter but is having a rough year compared to previous seasons shooting the ball. He will crash the glass on both sides and play a bit of defense but he's 2/13 from the field in their last two contests (both at home). Recent performances would suggest daring him to beat us scoring the ball but we will still need to work hard to keep him off the glass for second chance points.

Thomas is an in-state product who had some nice moments in the first half of the game at their place last year. His minutes have increased considerably (36.5 mpg) the last two games with Freeman no longer on the team. In that time, he's shown some promise as a facilitator and while he's not the worst FT shooter in the world he's a pretty poor shooter. In the three games where he's attempted over 10 shots he did not even shoot 40% in any of them. If we can keep him from getting to the hoop, we should be okay (again a zone would do wonders here - URI doesn't even shoot 30% from 3 as a team).

The fifth player in their starting lineup is Alabama transfer Alex Tchikou, a native of France who was a top 100 prospect out of HS but tore his achilles in practice during his true freshman year and saw action in just three games for the recently top-ranked Crimson Tide. Tchikou is a raw but high-potential player. He's not a high usage player on offense - he may attempt a few shots a game but is mostly used to set screens to allow Rhody's guards to get down hill and to the basket. His 6'11" frame allows him to alter shots down low although he doesn't quite provide the same rim protection the Mitchell twins did. By all accounts, at least attitude is a heck of a lot better than them though.

Coming off the bench for Rhody are Seton Hall transfer Brandon Weston and freshmen Abdou Samb and Rory Stewart. Josephat Bilau is another native of France who likely would have been in the rotation during conference play but he injured his knee during OOC play against UMass Lowell and will miss the rest of the year.

It's pretty much rinse and repeat when it comes to talking about many players on this URI squad. Weston is a good FT shooter at 80% but struggles as a jump shooter as he's only 33% from the field and 22% from 3. I'm a bit surprised he hasn't played more minutes recently as URI doesn't have anything to lose and I'd imagine he's part of their future but Weston has gone scoreless in three of their past four games.

Samb and Stewart give Miller lineup optionality down low. Samb, who previously redshirted, is a more traditional paint-bound forward that hails from the DC area. He had a great start to the year but has seen his minutes cut since - he's averaged just under 10 minutes a game in their past five contests. Samb is a decent FT shooter given his position but likely won't be a major factor offensively.

Stewart hails from England and is more of a stretch forward - over 70% of his attempts have been from 3. He is capable of scoring outbursts, as he put up 11 against SLU and 8 most recently against UMass. In the Bona game we weren't doing a good job closing out on shot attempts from 3 so hopefully we do a better job against Rhody, particularly when Stewart is in the game whether it's 5 minutes or 10.

Louis Hutchinson may see limited time although he's not part of Rhody's rotation consistently. Hutchinson is yet another URI product to hail from the DC area (although there's no relation to Jacoi from what I can tell). He's another guy that I'm surprised Miller hasn't played more. Hutchinson is 4/10 from 3 on the year - shooting is much needed on a team that again is under 30% from distance. A few minutes from him can't hurt. He showed potential earlier in the year with a 15 point performance against Stony Brook.

As others have mentioned with this GW team you can generally tell whether they have a chance of winning based on how they play from the get-go. If we are playing with energy and moving the ball we generally do well. If JB and BA are operating in isolation and we are looking lethargic we will likely be on the losing side. If we can hit 70, I like our chances. Everybody can score on us but without Bray I don't know how Rhody gets over 60-65. URI has the worst team offense in the A10. The two factors that definitely help URI is that the game is at their place and we are coming off an overtime game. I wouldn't be surprised if fatigue plays a role and we have a long cold stretch in the second half letting Rhody pull away but this is a winnable road game (probably more than the one at Davidson).

Projected Score: Rhode Island 74, GW 71. 39% chance to win (Bart Torvik). ESPN gives us a 35.3% chance to move to 8-7 in conference.


2/22/2023 9:41 am  #3

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Thanks dmv.  Last year's URI game was the only one during the whole season where we looked like we had an actual gameplan and executed on it.


2/22/2023 10:01 am  #4

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Thanks DMV for the great write up.  Couple of interesting tidbits from the team's game preview:

GW's last three victories - St. Bonaventure, Richmond (2OT) and Saint Joseph's - have all come in overtime. The Buff & Blue have not won a game in regulation since Jan. 21 vs. Dayton.

GW has trailed in the final minute of all three overtime wins - 91-88 with 50 seconds left in OT vs. St. Joe's (4-0 run to win), 78-73 with 45 seconds left in regulation vs. UR (9-4 run to tie) and 81-77 with 42 seconds left in OT at SBU (6-0 run to win).

GW won its 13th game of the season on Sunday, the most for the program since posting 15 wins in 2017-18. 

The Buff & Blue are averaging 75.6 ppg, an improvement of 7.2 ppg over last year, and the highest for GW since the 2015-16 NIT Championship team averaged 75.7 ppg. GW is also shooting 46.7% from the field as a team, the best clip for the program since the 2004-05 Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship team shot 47.7% from the floor.


2/22/2023 10:04 am  #5

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

They made a big splash hiring Miller but we got the better coach for sure. URI’s talent and depth sucks, but they’ve shown little-to-no improvement over the course of the year.  That’s the sign of an overpaid and over-hyped coach in my opinion. CC was dealt a shitty hand too, but he’s coached and motivated his players and they have responded and gotten better. They play hard for him. They don’t quit like RI obviously did against UMass,  We need to solve the mysterious and all-too-regular runs where we don’t score for 4 or 5 minutes a and are subjected to 12-0 runs, but by and large this team has been a pleasure to watch and they leave it all on the floor.  That’s not been the case with that circus act in Kingston, RI and it begins and ends with the coaches. One got his team to compete and overachieve, the other one is playing out the strings of a dismal year that didn’t come close to expectations.


2/22/2023 10:41 am  #6

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Alum1 wrote:

They made a big splash hiring Miller but we got the better coach for sure. URI’s talent and depth sucks, but they’ve shown little-to-no improvement over the course of the year.  That’s the sign of an overpaid and over-hyped coach in my opinion. CC was dealt a shitty hand too, but he’s coached and motivated his players and they have responded and gotten better. They play hard for him. They don’t quit like RI obviously did against UMass,  We need to solve the mysterious and all-too-regular runs where we don’t score for 4 or 5 minutes a and are subjected to 12-0 runs, but by and large this team has been a pleasure to watch and they leave it all on the floor.  That’s not been the case with that circus act in Kingston, RI and it begins and ends with the coaches. One got his team to compete and overachieve, the other one is playing out the strings of a dismal year that didn’t come close to expectations.

My thought is the disruption leading to Freeman’s dismissal did them in. IMO it’s on Miller to recognize the potential problems with bringing Freeman aboard.


2/22/2023 12:03 pm  #7

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

And yet, URI is favored by 2 1/2.  I know we are better than them but I guess URI was so awful in their last game that they will be motivated to play much better.  I'll pass on the fishy line but instead take the Under 142 1/2.  URI was hard pressed to score with Brayon; it's only gotten worse without him.


2/22/2023 12:07 pm  #8

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

GW is tied for 7th in the A10 right now, but there are only two teams with a worse Kenpom rating than GW (222), and Rhode Island is one of them (229). La Salle (220) is only two spots ahead of us. If we want to reach .500 in the conference, this game and Saturday's are must wins.


2/22/2023 12:17 pm  #9

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

I agree with the sentiments about Miller and co underwhelming thus far at Rhode Island and I think there's something to be said for poor recruiting to go along with issues that have arose during the season. Whether it's Bray or others, the players they brought in clearly haven't lived up to expectations and that blame falls on Archie's shoulders.


2/22/2023 7:24 pm  #10

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Hunter Dean is Rhody's daddy in the first half.


2/22/2023 7:26 pm  #11

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

is this finally mayhem?


2/22/2023 7:26 pm  #12

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Apparently no one wants to advertise on the URI basketball network.


2/22/2023 7:26 pm  #13

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

26-8 run!


2/22/2023 7:31 pm  #14

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Make that 31-8 run.


2/22/2023 7:44 pm  #15

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread



2/22/2023 7:45 pm  #16

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

How do you confuse Amir Harris for Noel Brown? Multiple times!


2/22/2023 7:46 pm  #17

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

The announcers are horrible and keep identifying Amir Harris as Noel Brown


2/22/2023 7:47 pm  #18

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Would love to see Dean get 20 points tonight. Can’t remember him ever doing it before.


2/22/2023 7:47 pm  #19

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Dean outmuscling their big guys. A first.


2/22/2023 7:48 pm  #20

Re: GW vs Rhode Island Game Thread

Is their broadcasting team composed of students? Seems like it.


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