Rueb: Rams’ Winning Streak Ends; But All is Not Lost

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Will Hurley right the ship?

If you’re a member of the Rhody faithful, I’m going to need you to sit down and take a deep breath. And you, the Providence fans who are having a nightmare of a time dealing with the Rams’ success – I need you to calm down for one second.

The Rams lost Friday night. And that’s OK. It was going to happen at some time between now and the NCAA Tournament.

And better it happen on a Friday night in Olean than a weekend game in Washington, DC.

Blue Skies Ahead

Jared Terrell missed an open, game-tying layup attempt driving down the lane with under 15 seconds left, then missed a tightly contested prayer of a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team lost to St. Bonaventure, the No. 2 team in the Atlantic 10, 77-74, ending the nation’s longest winning streak and URI’s conference win streak that lasted more than a calendar year.

There’s no need to fret over the loss. Losses are tough to handle when you forget how they happen. Those wins add up and so does the pressure and prestige; winning becomes a drug and the Rams have had a serious addiction for two months.

Think about what happened as a result of URI’s 16-game win streak. The Rams lost a road game and that team’s fan base stormed the court, a celebration usually saved for beating the Kentuckys, Dukes, Kansases or any other blue-blood team. Not URI. The last time a team stormed the court vs. the Rams Lamar Odom was wearing the Keaney Blue and White and people still called The Dunk the Civic Center.

URI Still on the Come Up

But when you rattle off enough Ws you start to earn a reputation and when you get ranked inside the Top 20, fans are going to be excited to beat you. So think of this as a good thing. If fans rush the court and it’s not a rivalry game or a buzzer beater, that says something about your program.

Losing Friday allows URI to push the reset button. Nobody wants to lose, but losing on the road against the second-best team in the conference and probable NCAA Tournament team isn’t like losing by 17 at home to a team with a worse reputation than its losing record shows.

Rhode Island didn’t play perfect, but it wasn’t the type of showing that makes you want to rip your hair our and wonder how this team even won 20 games this season. Were the 17 turnovers great? Nope. Giving up 19 offensive rebounds while grabbing 21 defensive boards probably wasn’t on Danny Hurley’s list of things to do for the night.

Positives

There was more than enough good to make up for the bad. EC Matthews his a couple big threes that made you forget how panicked everyone in Kingston was Tuesday when he got hurt in the Richmond game. Cyril Langevine and Fatts Russell are easily a part of the Rams’ best five, but they’re coming off the bench and are dynamic. Langevine had 10 rebounds Friday, three blocks and plays with the aggression URI needs around the basket. Fatts is well on his way to being a legend and had a little scoop layup late in the second half that was sneaky one of the best shots you’ll see all season.

Then there was Terrell. Yes, he missed a layup he should have made. He’s not the guy you want to be shooting a 3 as he barrels down the court at full speed.

But tonight he looked like someone who wants to throw the team on his back and take it for a ride and the only way to stop him would be with a strong 4-3 defense with a big middle linebacker. Terrell makes big plays and Friday’s miss isn’t something he’ll want to repeat.

Losing Hurts, But it Leads to Learning

Talk of the streak can end. Had URI won Friday and closed out the regular season, there would be an unusual amount of pressure heading to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which is where the Rams will ultimately decide where they’ll be ranked for the NCAAs.

It would have been fun watching a team carry a 21-game win streak into A-10s, try and win that and then do some damage in the NCAAs, but that’s asking a lot.

I’m sure Hurley won’t publicly admit he’s OK with losing because he hates losing like I hate dieting, but somewhere in the back of his head he knows this will help URI refocus and realize it’s not unbeatable. You want confidence, not cockiness, heading into the postseason, and this loss to St. Bonaventure brings the Rams back to reality.

Good news is that reality is they’re still a Top 20 team in the country.

And now they have three weeks to they might be better than that.

Eric Rueb
Eric Rueb is a freelance journalist. For more from Rueb on sports, entertainment and him living the #DadLife, follow him on Twitter at @EricRueb. Send him email at ericrueb@yahoo.com.
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