Game #9-083: Loyola (Md.) at Rhode Island RamsNovember 23, 2012 7:00 pm
KINGSTON, R.I. - After a quick stop at Mystic Aquarium
, somewhere I hadn't been in two decades, I arrived at the University of Rhode Island campus to find it absolutely deserted.
One of the fun things about traveling to college basketball games for me is to check out the different campuses: some small, others big, some with more modern architecture, others with buildings that are centuries old.
The walk from the Ryan Center parking lot was straight uphill, and with the wind whipping and darkness having fallen, it felt like one of those History Channel "Life After Man"
shows. Or Will Smith an "I Am Legend". I finally saw a man wearing an outfit that could have been out of the fifties, sans the requisite pipe (he did have a newspaper under his arm, though). Alas, he said hi and didn't attack me, so he wasn't a "darkseeker". I know it was Thanksgiving break for students, but it was still just weird.
Finally, out of the darkness came "International Pockets Café"
, which stayed open despite the lack of students and saved me from arena food for the night.
The ticket takers didn't look like zombies, either, even though there weren't any other fans using the same entrance that early, so I was briefly concerned.
All the while, I wondered, like I did in the trip to UConn
, how difficult it is to recruit in a place such as this. But, as I said before, if Jim Calhoun was able to win multiple national championships in Storrs, then Danny Hurley must believe he can be a consistent NCAA Tournament squad in Kingston.
If he survives this season. Physically, I mean. You get the feeling that by March, you may be able put together one of those Before and After splitscreens like they do to show how much stress a President undergoes in four years.
If Hurley was looking for a respite Friday, he didn't get it. Far from it.
As they did when I saw them the week before against Seton Hall,
Rhode Island raced to an eight-point lead early and then appeared to attempt to hold on to it with all their might for the rest of the evening. By halftime, it was down to a single point, but led by Serbian senior Nikola Malesevic (whom the PA announcer called MAL-leh-sa-vich...vich, adding an extra syllable as an homage to how difficult it was for fans to say when he first arrived in Kingston, which I found funny), Rhode Island had it back to 39-32 with 11:44 left.
I've gone this far without mentioning Jimmy Patsos, which is quite the shocker in itself. Maybe - like his team sometimes - I've grown a bit numb to his antics, I was sitting on the Hurley side of the court. I did have this game circled from when it was first announced, a great Mid-majority coaching matchup.
The contrast started early, as when Patsos came out of the locker room, he - per usual - shook hands with any and all of the Greyhound supporters (and there were a decent amount), detouring into the stands before making his way to the bench. Problem was, with time ticking down until the national anthem, Hurley was waiting patiently near midcourt to give him the customary greeting. Finally,Hurley gave up and walked over to Patsos, tapping him on the back.
There didn't seem to be any animosity, though, the two enjoyed a laugh and that was it.
As his team struggled, Patsos had his moments: putting his finger in a player's face, running halfway down the bench to confront no one in particular, and calling three timeouts in a five-minute span early in the second half, subbing out all five players on the last one.
What Sean Woods did to get suspended at Morehead St.
earlier in the week was certainly cringe-worthy when watching it, and we know Patsos has gotten himself into some hot water before, but you can't help but think when you're watching him live if some of it isn't a little bit over the top. In his defense, it's not like he's disguising who he is, and - although he gets plenty of press, including from us - I've seen some others in my travels this season already. An interesting thing to keep an eye on going forward.
I mentioned the score earlier to illustrate how much the game deteriorated from an offensive perspective. You never figured the way this would be an offensive showcase (Loyola's 48-44 win over Fairfield in the MAAC title game
last year is still fresh in my mind), but it got ugly. With a capital U.
It did seem like the Rams were getting better looks than they had a week ago late in the game, but they just wouldn't go in. After Xavier Munford's three-pointer that would have given URI a 7-point advantage rattled around before coming out, Hurley could only stand with his arms crossed and shake his head.
Eventually, Loyola crawled back to tie it at 44, but Malesevic-vic finally got a #superhoop
to fall, putting the Rams up 47-44 with 4:30 left.
Through a series of missed free throws and opportunities, somehow URI was able to hang onto the three-point lead by its collective fingernails, until off a time out, somehow Loyola's best shooter - senior Robert Olson - slipped a screen and buried a #superhoop
to tie the game with 3.5 seconds left.
(As I've said before, for all his shenanigans on the sideline, Patsos is a tremendous basketball coach, drawing up a pretty darn good play here. His defensive adjustments were superb. It could be just me, though, as the Greyhounds are now 7-0 in games I've covered for the Mid-majority. Does that mae the Loyola media notes?)
Munford hit a #superhoop
20 seconds into overtime, but it was the last field goal the Rams would get. In fact, against Loyola's zone, Rhode Island would attempt eight shots in the extra session, all of them from behind the arc.
In the end, Loyola tried very hard itself not to put the game away, missing five free throws in overtime, three in the final 20 seconds. But they got offensive rebounds on all of them, and Hurley was headed to his fifth straight defeat to start his Rhode Island career, with this guy's mood about summing it up.
Hurley's team will continue to battle, surely, and they're going to beat someone in the Atlantic-10 (don't let it be you), but it's going to be a struggle. Hopefully, Hurley - who lost just six games last season at Wagner, and only 21 times in a DECADE of coaching high school ball at St. Benedict's (NJ) - will take it in stride, knowing that reinforcements are on the way.
One guy who knows a bit about adversity is Jimmy Patsos, who embraced Hurley after the game and seemed to give him a little pep talk at midcourt before departing.
Maybe it went like this:
"I like you, Danny, and I know you've come up the hard way. But I have to tell you something. Some folks look for answers, others look for fights, and some folks are up in treetops looking for their kites. I've been the ripple in still water where there was no pebble tossed. I've been a headlight on a northbound train. I've been run out in the cold rain and snow. F***, I've even played in Uncle John's band down by the riverside. You'll get back on your feet someday, Danny, the good Lord willing if He says you may. But now, you've just got to row, Danny, row."
I think Danny will get there, too, someday soon.LOYOLA (MD.) 58, at RHODE ISLAND 54
LOYOLA (MD.) 5-1 (0-0) -- R. Olson 8-16 0-1 20; D. Cormier 3-13 3-4 9; A. Winbush 3-7 0-2 6; E. Etherly 4-12 3-7 11; J. Latham 4-9 1-2 9; J. Brooks 0-2 1-2 1; J. Jones 0-0 0-0 0; T. Hubbard 0-4 0-0 0; E. Laster 1-4 0-0 2; F. Rassman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-67 8-18 58.
RHODE ISLAND 0-5 (0-0) -- X. Munford 5-13 3-3 14; M. Powell 1-11 2-3 4; A. Malone 5-12 0-0 11; N. Malesevic 6-12 2-6 16; J. Hare 3-5 2-6 8; R. Brooks 0-3 1-2 1; T. Buchanan 0-1 0-0 0; M. Aaman 0-1 0-0 0; A. Bigby 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-59 10-20 54.
Three-point goals: LMD 4-20 (E. Etherly 0-1; A. Winbush 0-1; R. Olson 4-9; D. Cormier 0-4; T. Hubbard 0-4; E. Laster 0-1), URI 4-22 (N. Malesevic 2-7; A. Malone 1-6; M. Powell 0-3; X. Munford 1-6); Rebounds: LMD 40 (E. Etherly 10), URI 45 (J. Hare 16); Assists: LMD 10 (A. Winbush 4), URI 6 (A. Malone 2); Total Fouls -- LMD 16, URI 16; Fouled Out: LMD-J. Latham; URI-N. Malesevic.