Welcome to the Ryan Center

By David Scott - December 09, 2006

KINGSTON, R.I. - Welcome to the Ryan Center on the campus of the University of Rhode Island for today’s cross-country match up between the 5-4 URI Rams (Atlantic 10) and the 3-4 Utah Utes (Mountain West).

Be prepared for all manner of “U” usage as we unravel the 2 p.m. tip that will serve as both teams final game before a week off for finals.

Utah game notes can be here; and Rhody notes are here.

(Jim and Jimmy Baron’s names get misspelled in the Utah notes, which is unfortunate. At least it’s consistent for both father and son. There’s always something to be said for consistency.)

. . .Some plain and simple observations as you look at the two teams who are meeting for the fourth time ever (a series that began in 1992 at the NIT). This is the return on a home-and-home series which commenced last year with a 66-50 Utah win in Salt Like City.

It’s a good take for a number of reasons (Hello, again, my lovely Ramettes!), not the least of which is that Utah very rarely gets in to these here parts (its lone trip east this season). Utah is actually more THE Class of the Mountain West than Rhody would be for the A-10, but both schools have hoops history and pride.

. . . Utah Head Coach Ray Giacoletti is in his third season (46-25) and remains the Guy Who Came after (Rick) Majerus. He can obviously coach and this season (as last) has been bitten early by some close defeats (three of the Utes’ first four losses have been by a combined seven points).

But his seven-footer from Perth, Australia, Luke Nevill (17.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg) is continuing to impress and improve and a young team (no senior starters and one senior overall) picked fourth in the MWC’s pre-season league poll was probably pegged just about right.

. . . The Runnin’ Rams, with a newfound ability to go up-tempo AND shoot the three at a good clip (43 percent), will look to get a boost from just reinstated freshman point guard Keith Cothran. (Cothran is the second of the Rams’ “Clearinghouse Three” to be cleared for play after a somewhat length delay. Frosh Frank Monge was allowed on-board previously and now Delroy James is the lone Ram who can still not suit up. It appears likely that James will not see court time this season, rather, he will debut next year for Coach Jim Baron. Coach’s son, Jimmy Baron is Top 25 in the country in 3-point shooting, which should make for some fun as the Utes hover in the Top 5 as a team. Baron is coming off a career-high 28 point night vs. Brown on Tuesday where he connected on eight 3-pointers.

. . . But make no mistake, Utah wants to play in the high-60s and Rhody wants get into the 80s. The Rams have an almost 4-to-1 advantage in rebound margin (+8 to +2.7), but also average three more turnovers per game than their opponents (17.9 to 14.3).

. . . The Rhody Ram mascot was involved in some shenanigans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center last weekend against Providence, but “Hang Time” has learned, in advance of this afternoon’s game, that the Ram Mascot is physically okay and will perform today, as scheduled.

We’re hoping to get access to the bruised-ribs Ram during the pre-game, but we don’t want to butt heads. Sorry. Long set up for a bad joke.

We do, actually intend to look into the matter. There was a human-on-mascot spearing that was perpetuated and we can stand idly by. (We once refereed a MAAC Tournament Mascot game, and ever since we have been kindred spirits with all sorts of sideline roamers.)

This, the A-10, is the very league where St. Joe’s proudly claims their Hawk never dies, but as one Rhody wag suggested: “The Ram never dies! Jammmmmmm Rammmmmmm.”

Okay, I might have added the Jammmmmmmm Rammmmmm part.

Posted by David Scott at 12:43 PM on December 09, 2006

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