Matthews Returns as #23 URI Basketball Hosts Dartmouth in Season Opener Friday
Friday, November 11, 2016
Eleven months after tearing his ACL, URI basketball star E.C. Matthews makes his return to the lineup on Friday night when the #23 URI Rams host the Dartmouth Big Green at the Ryan Center.
Before even playing a game this season, Matthews has been named to the Naismith Award watch list and is ranked by CBS Sports as one of the top 60 players in the country.
"Anytime you return a guy who is a potential player of the year candidate and potential NBA Draft pick, it gives the entire team a shot in the arm," URI head coach Dan Hurley told GoLocalProv.
In practice, Matthews has shown no signs of a set back or lingering effects from the injury, he has even executed the exact play that he got injured on, but rust is inevitable after not playing a game for a year.
"The team is so deep around him that it is not necessary for him to be all-world in these first few games, they can afford to let him work his way into the action," URI play-by-play man Steve McDonald told GoLocalProv earlier in this week.
That depth is a major reason why the Rams are nationally ranked for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
Most people have URI as top-25 team because of E.C. Matthews & Hassan Martin. Be warned: Jarvis Garrett & Jared Terrell are also All-A10.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 8, 2016
University of Indiana transfer Stanford Robinson and Kuran Iverson, now in his second year with the program, are also expected to play roles this season for the Rams.
"Depth is going to be what is most fun about this team. Dan is going to have some big time options when he goes to the bench," McDonald added.
Tip off for Friday nights game is at 7 p.m.
URI Season Opener
The Rams face the Big Green for only the fourth time ever and for the first time since 1986. Dartmouth leads the all-time series 2-1, their last win coming in 1959.
In their history, URI has played 110 season openers and have a record of 87-23 in those games, they are 9-1 at the Ryan Center.
Following the game against Dartmouth, the Rams stay home for a matchup with Marist on Monday, November 14 at 7 p.m.
Related Slideshow: Starting Lineup Projections for URI, PC, Bryant & Brown Basketball Teams
G - E.C. Matthews - Redshirt Junior
The biggest story line for the upcoming college basketball season in Rhode Island is the return of Matthews from a torn ACL, which he suffered in the first game of the 2015-16 season.
"Anytime you return a guy who is a potential player of the year candidate and potential NBA Draft pick, it gives the entire team a shot in the arm," said URI head coach Dan Hurley.
Matthews was named second team all-conference at the Atlantic 10 media day, and most recently, he was named to the Jerry West Award watch list for the third straight season.
For his career, Matthews averages 16 points per game.
G - Jared Terrell - Junior
Terrell has started 64 of the 65 games that he has played in his career, and this season will split back court duties with E.C. Matthews, giving the Rams one of the best back courts in the conference.
Last season, Terrell averaged 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Rams, reaching double figures in scoring in 13 of URI's final 14 games.
In those 13 games, Terrell had at least 20 points in six of them.
G - Jarvis Garrett - Junior
How tough is Garrett?
During a January 30 game against St. Joseph's, Garrett was knocked out, and would miss the next game against UMass.
He would return the following game against La Salle wearing a full face mask, and poured in a career high 26 points.
Garrett would play with the mask the remainder of the season.
He ended the year shooting 42% from three-point land to to lead URI, while averaging 12.5 points and 4.7 assists per game.
He was named to the USBWA All-District one team at the close of the regular season.
F - Hassan Martin - Senior
Martin became the first URI Ram to win the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award since its inception in 1996-97 despite being bothered by a knee injury and missing URI's last four games.
Martin was named to the A-10's preseason all-defensive team and also second team all conference at A-10 media day.
"When Hassan was at his best was during his sophomore year when he was just a complete animal. I think you will see some of that this year," said Hurley.
Martin had 103 blocked shots and 24 steals during his sophomore season, while averaging 11.4 points per game, helping the Rams earn a spot in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
In 2015-16, Martin averaged 2.5 blocks per game overall, and 2.4 blocks per game in conference play, putting him atop the league leaders for the third straight season. The 2.5 blocks per game was 18th best in the country.
Martin finished his 2015-16 season with 65 blocked shots, ranking him sixth in program history for most blocks in a season. He is also second all-time on URI's career blocked shots list with 248 blocks.
Offensively, Martin averaged 12 points per game last season, averaging nine points per game for his career.
Reunited with Matthews, the two will serve as one of the top 1-2 punches in the A-10.
F - Kuran Iverson - Senior
Now in his second season with the Rams after transferring in from Memphis, Iverson is coming off a 2015-16 campaign where he averaged 9.8 points per game, and recorded four double-doubles.
Expect to see Iverson get much better looks this year with the return of E.C. Matthews.
"I think for him its just simplyfiyng his game. He has so much talent on the floor, he needs to focus on doing a couple of things really well," said Hurley. "He has the ability to be an elite offensive rebounder, just needs to keep it simple."
Iverson is the cousin of NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson.
G - Kyron Cartwright - Junior
Kyron Cartwright has big shoes to fill as he replaces Kris Dunn at the point guard position.
"We are looking for Kyron to be a vocal leader, and a leader on the floor. We need him in order to get where we want to go," said Providence head coach Ed Cooley.
During the 2015-16 season, Cartwright averaged six points and four assists per game for the Friars in an average of 24.2 minutes of action per game.
G - Ryan Fazekas - Sophomore
Sharpshooter Ryan Fazekas started 12 of 28 games for the Friars in his freshman season, but missed about a month of action due to mono.
Fazekas averaged five points per game for PC, and shot 34% from behind the three-point line for the year.
"I think that he is developing great, he continues to put the work in. He should be a focal point in our offense this year," said Ed Cooley.
His best game came against Brown in the third game of the season, when he connected on five of the eight three pointers that he attempted, scoring a career high 17 points.
F - Rodney Bullock - Junior
Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil are gone, mean Bullock is going to be one of the go-to guys in the Friars offense.
"His role is going to change, Kyron's role is going to change. We are going to rely heavily on them for offense, and will need both of them to score points" said Cooley.
Bullock averaged 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds while playing an average of 32 minutes per game.
The 2015-16 campaign was Bullock's first season of college basketball after he tore his ACL in October of 2014, and was suspended for the 2013-14 season.
F - Emmitt Holt - Junior
Holt, a 6 '7" forward with a 7'3" wingspan, comes to the Friars from Indian Hills Community College where he averaged 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 69% from the field.
Prior to Indian Hills, Holt attended the University of Indiana but was dismissed after being cited for illegal possession of alcohol in August of 2015.
That incident came just ten months after he hit teammate Devin Davis with his car, while having alcohol in his system.
"Emmitt is an impressive young name with a bright future, and he will have a successful final two seasons at Providence. Emmitt is the type of person and player that will try to do whatever is asked of him. He is very unselfish and will fit great into the basketball program at Providence, as well as in PC's community," said Indian Hills head coach, Hank Piona, upon Holt's commitment to Providence.
He has two years of eligibility left.
F - Kalif Young - Freshman
Young is a 6'9" forward with a 7'0" wingspan from Toronto, Canada where he attended Orangeville Prep. He is ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
On the freshman class, Cooley said, "They are learning, they are nervous, they are trying not to make a mistake, which means they are making every mistake, but they will be okay. We just have to coach their confidence."
Last spring, Young played for the CIA Bounce of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) and averaged 6.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
G - Hunter Ware - Junior
Hunter Ware started 29 of the 30 games that he played in for Bryant last season, and scored at least 20 points on six different occasions for the Bulldogs.
On the season, Ware averaged 12.7 points per game, while shooting 41% from the field.
"He has been around, now he is a junior so he has a great feel for what we are trying to do. The biggest thing for him is to show consistency with his shooting," said Bryant associate head coach Happy Dobbs.
G - Ikenna Ndugba - Freshman
According to Dobbs, freshman Ikenna Ndugba will be in the starting lineup for the Bulldogs when they tip off their season in November.
Ndugba is from Boston where he played for coach John McVeigh at the Brooks School.
In his senior season, he led his team in scoring with 13 points, 6.5 assists and four steals per game while finishing third in rebounding, averaging six rebounds per game.
When the season ended, Ndugba was named Independent School League Player of the Year, New England Class B Player of the year and MVP of the New England Class B Tournament Team.
PHOTO: Ikenna Ndugba/twitter
G - Nisre Zouzoua - Sophomore
As a freshman, Brockton's Zouzoua became only the second freshman to lead the Bulldogs in scoring in the program's Division I history. The previous freshman to do so was Alex Francis.
Zouzoua appeared in 31 games for the Bulldogs, starting 25 of them. He was selected to the NEC All-Rookie team after leading Bryant with 12.8 points per game.
He also showed his range, knocking down 60 three-pointers on the year, and shooting 37% from behind the three-point line. The 60 three-pointers ranked second most among league rookies.
F - Marcel Pettway - Sophomore
North Providence's Pettway became only the second player in program history to earn the NEC Rookie of the Year award, after Alex Francis did it in 2011. He will look to build on that success in 2016-17.
"He is more confident coming back this year. Now he is just working on every aspect of his game and focusing more on his free throw shooting," said Dobbs.
In 2015-16, Pettway started the last 22 games for Bryant and finished his freshman year averaging 11.4 points per game, fourth best among league rookies. Pettway shot 59.7 percent from the field on the season and recorded 8 double-doubles, including a career high 26 points and 11 rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson.
The 8 double-doubles are tied for most by a freshman in Bryant's Division I history.
F - Dan Garvin - Senior
At 6'6" Garvin averaged 10.2 points and 8 rebounds per game in 26 games for Bryant during the 2015-16 campaign.
His eight rebounds per game were good enough for seventh best in the NEC.
G - Tavon Blackmon - Senior
Named a captain for the 2016-17 season, Blackmon is coming off a 2015-16 season in which he dished out 5.5 assists per game to lead the Ivy League, while ranking fourth in three-point field goal percentage - shooting 44% from behind the three-point line.
"All of our captains are important, but it all starts with Tavon. He is our point guard, the ball is in his hands. As we say, he is our engine," said Brown head coach Mike Martin.
Along with the assists, Blackmon also reached double figures in scoring 20 times, and scored at least 20 points on four different occasions for the Bears.
For his career, Blackmon averages ten points and 4.3 assists per game.
G - JR Hobbie - Senior
Named one of three captains for the 2016-17 season, sharpshooter Hobbie enters his final season ranking fifth all-time at Brown with 191 career three-pointers made. In 2015-16 he ranked third in the Ivy League in three-pointers made per game with an average of 2.6.
"JR is one of the best shooters that I have ever been around, he is a huge weapon for us," said Martin.
For his career, Hobbie averages 7.9 points per game and shoots 42% from three-point land.
F - Steven Spieth - Senior
Named one of three captains for the 2016-17 season, Spieth is coming off a 2015-16 campaign where averaged 10.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Bears.
In his career, Spieth has started 86 of the 87 games that he has played in and has averaged 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Spieth is the brother of professional golf star Jordan Spieth, who has won two major championships in his career, and most recently helped Team USA win the Ryder Cup.
F - David Erebor - Freshman
6'9" forward, Erebor is a rated as a two-star recruit, according to Scout.com, out of Our Lady of Carmel School in Maryland.
“David is a talented front court player, who comes with a very high ceiling. He's mobile, athletic, and can protect the rim defensively. Offensively, he is comfortable with his back to the basket or facing up. He will make an impact at both ends of the floor," said Brown head coach Mike Martin.
As a senior at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School, Erebor averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game.
He was named Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season.
F - Brandon Charnov - Freshman
Charnov is a 6'11" freshman out of Kinkaid High School in Houston, Texas, and brings the Bears much needed size and scoring up front.
Charnov is rated as a two-star recruit, according to Verbal Commits.com, and averaged 15 points and nine rebounds per game in his senior year of high school.
"All of our freshmen are working hard, we are throwing a lot at them. It's obviously a big adjustment for them both on and off the court, but they were all recruited for a reason and our hope is that they will be able to contribute sooner rather than later," said Martin.
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