After a strong start to their season, the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins will be back at home for a battle with Rhode Island. The Rams also won their season opener, beating LIU Brooklyn 76-65.
The Rams, under first year head coach David Cox, went 18-15 last season. But expectations are much higher this season as the bulk of their key players return. The team will revolve around 6’8 senior forward Cyril Langevine, but the experienced backcourt of Fatts Russel and Jeff Dowtin is also worth watching. Russel, who is notorious for his second-half explosion against Trae Young’s Oklahoma team in the 2018 NCAA tournament, was high school teammates with Donta Scott while Dowtin was teammates with Anthony Cowan.
“They need to change his name to ‘Fast’, not ‘Fatts’,” head coach Mark Turgeon joked. “I think the whole key is in transition, in ball screen defense just making sure everyone is aware of him.”
The Rams have a strong inside presence with seven players 6’7 or taller, but last season they struggled from three. They were dead last in the A-10 in three point field goal percentage and three pointers made. Cox’s squad was 9-26 from deep on Tuesday (Maryland was actually worse, shooting 5-27).
For the Terps, the starting and potentially closing lineups are still worth monitoring. Cowan started along with Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo Jr. and Jalen Smith on Tuesday, but Darryl Morsell replaced Lindo to start the second half. Turgeon announced on Friday, that Morsell will be inserted into the starting lineup for Rhode Island. Lindo’s minutes in general are something to keep track of as he’s seen less action than Morsell and the freshman Scott.
“Donta is a really good passer, and slowly he is starting to play more on the perimeter for us. You see him making plays for himself and other people. He does have toughness,” Turgeon said.
With Rhode Island being a much more formidable opponent, it will be fascinating to see what Turgeon does with the lineups. Against Holy Cross, he was comfortable doing mass substitutions and playing younger guys for an extended period of time.
Both the Terps and Rams will look to go 2-0 on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m and can be viewed on FS1.
“We gotta come ready to play. This is not gonna be a cakewalk,” said sophomore guard Eric Ayala. “We know Rhode Island and their offensive firepower. We gotta be ready to go.”
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