Game #9-049: Ohio State vs. Rhode Island RamsNovember 17, 2012 5:00 pm
UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Given the choice of going back to the casino before the next contest or talking to Bob Hurley, well, that's not a very hard choice, is it?
Hurley was in attendance primarily to see his sons Danny and Bobby coach Rhode Island against fourth-ranked Ohio State, but was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010, and this being the Hall of Fame Classic (albeit a kind of bastardized version of it
), he was here as a representative.
Like any other coach who lives and breathes basketball, once you get Bob Hurley going on the game, he's not liable to stop for a while, which is surely what keeps him going at the age of 65. If you've never read the "Miracle of St. Anthony
", you're doing yourself a disservice. Or you can check out the documentary "The Street Stops Here" if your attention span isn't quite as long (the book is better, believe me).
Hurley can relate to life below the Red Line, staying at St. Anthony's for four decades despite a few chances (and clamoring from New York City fanbases) to grab a college job and move his way up the coaching "ladder".
In fact, what impressed me most about talking to Hurley was his grasp of the current small-school world. I mentioned that I lived close to Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut, so had seen Danny and Bobby a couple of times last season. Former St. Anthony's star Jamee Jackson now plays for Quinnipiac, but he also knew the rest of the roster pretty well. When I mentioned they had a big win over Iona, he talked about how good Momo Jones and Sean Armand were. Similar with Manhattan and a few other small New York-area schools.
He wasn't quite as optimistic when it came to his sons' 2012-13 squad at Rhode Island, mentioning, "It's going to take a little time. They're in a very tough league that's only getting better. He'll get there, though."
On this afternoon, Rhode Island - 0-2 coming in, including a loss to Norfolk St. at home and a lopsided defeat at Virginia Tech - faced an immense task, a top-five opponent in Ohio State that returned three starters from a team that went to the Final Four last season.
It's a strange situation for the Hurleys this season, they really have to wait until 2013-14 for transfers to be eligible (three of which sit on the bench with them), and have signed what some have ranked a Top-10 recruiting class. Personally, I think those rankings are bullpucky, but it illustrates the point that Hurley is going to reshape the roster next year.
So he's left with the remnants of a team that went 7-24 in 2011-12 (Jim Baron also took his son, Billy, to Canisius), with three seniors and a graduate student that see meaningful playing time. I guess they'll be off the roster next year, at least, so might as well play them.
While it will be easy to think this season doesn't matter, and in the long run it might not, Danny Hurley (or Bobby or Bob, for that matter) belong to the Jimmy Patsos passion category
, and I'm sure family games of Risk probably ended in some kind of bloodshed. Or at least a smashing of the pieces on the board.
In other words, there's no way Rhode Island is going to lay down for anyone this season, no matter what the makeup of the roster is. They may (and probably will) lose, but they're not going to raise any white flags.
Even to Ohio St.
I actually saw two Red Line Upsets in one NCAA Tournament session in 1988 at the Hartford Civic Center, although while Richmond's over Georgia Tech was memorable, top-seeded Temple over No. 8 Georgetown certainly gets an asterick (I also saw Loyola of Chicago beat SMU in 1985, but I barely remember that one).
I vaguely remember the energy of that Richmond game, but this Rhode Island-Ohio St. game gave me the feel of an NCAA Tournament upset with its large, antiseptic neutral venue. URI is only 45 minutes away from the Mohegan Sun, and had a few more fans at the beginning, but it was the neutrals who started to get behind them as Andre Malone hit the Rams' second three-pointer in as many possessions to give them an unlikely 19-13 lead. Malone hit another to make it 22-15, but that would be as big as it got, the Buckeyes led by half, 30-26, as the crowd - sans the Ohio St. contingent - got quiet.
While it was Deshaun Thomas who was doing the damage (he finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds), it was Aaron Craft - probably the most beloved of the Buckeyes by their fans - that was playing the role of villain. Craft is one of the nation's top defenders, but seemed to get away with some overly physical (not dirty, certainly) guarding, but - despite Hurley's pleading, eventually to the point where he got a technical foul - didn't pick up a foul until the closing minutes.
URI gave the crowd one more jolt when a Xavier Munford dunk brought them within two midway through the second half, but in the end Ohio St. pulled away for a 69-58 win, even though the Rams battled until the end.
It was an interesting experience to see a massive school like Ohio St. with fans that travel 1,000 miles en masse (at least 1,000 or so of them), and to have their players sitting in the stands watching the previous game get mobbed by autograph seekers. Craft got treated like a rock star as soon as the Buckeye fans figured out who he was, both before and after the game. I can't imagine what it would be like in Columbus.
It's possible, with conference realignment what it is, and the Hurleys apparent ability to recruit, that they may be in a big school in the not-so-distant future.
And then, unfortunately, guys, I'll have to be rooting against you again. Nothing personal. OHIO STATE 69, RHODE ISLAND 58
OHIO STATE 2-0 (0-0) -- D. Thomas 9-18 4-4 25; A. Craft 4-10 3-4 13; L. Smith Jr. 4-9 4-6 15; E. Ravenel 1-4 0-0 2; S. Thompson 2-4 1-2 5; A. Williams 1-1 1-2 3; L. Ross 0-4 0-0 0; S. Scott 3-5 0-0 6; A. Della Valle 0-0 0-0 0; T. McDonald 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 13-18 69.
RHODE ISLAND 0-3 (0-0) -- M. Powell 4-12 0-0 10; X. Munford 5-13 4-4 16; A. Malone 4-9 0-0 11; R. Brooks 2-2 0-0 4; N. Malesevic 5-7 0-0 11; J. Hare 0-2 4-4 4; A. Bigby 0-1 0-0 0; M. Aaman 1-2 0-0 2; S. Plunkett 0-0 0-0 0; E. Youncofski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 8-8 58.
Three-point goals: OHST 8-19 (A. Craft 2-6; L. Smith 3-4; D. Thomas 3-6; S. Thompson 0-1; L. Ross 0-2), URI 8-17 (N. Malesevic 1-2; A. Malone 3-4; M. Powell 2-6; X. Munford 2-5); Rebounds: OHST 32 (D. Thomas 10), URI 21 (N. Malesevic 6); Assists: OHST 9 (A. Craft 4), URI 9 (M. Powell 6); Total Fouls -- OHST 14, URI 13; Fouled Out: OHST-None; URI-N. Malesevic.