Mason-URI men's basketball preview
The University of Rhode Island has had a tough start to the season. Under new head coach Dan Hurley, the Rams have managed to survive (barely) a stretch of games against major conference competition, including No. 3 Ohio State. However, they were able to get into the win column Sunday with a double overtime thriller against Auburn (can anything go right for the Tigers right now?).
With a win under their belt, the Rams no longer have the winless monkey on their proverbial backs. However, they would like to continue their winning streak against a quality opponent in Mason.
The Patriots hope to steal that glimmer of hope away tonight when they face the Rams in Kingston, R.I. at 8 p.m.
Nikola Malesevic – Forward -- Senior
The Rams return their third leading scorer from last season in Malesevic, who averaged 11.0 points per game. The 6’7” Serbian plays with a style similar to Mason’s Marko Gujanicic with an innate ability to score from the perimeter, shooting 30 percent from behind the arc in ‘11-‘12. His size and outside shot could force the smaller Patriots’ guards to close out on a taller shooter, creating shooting mismatches. Malesevic typically hangs around on the perimeter and doesn’t provide much of an inside threat for the Rams, but he must certainly be accounted for by Mason.
Mike Powell – Guard -- Sophomore
Powell started 27 games for the Rams as a true freshman last season and averaged 8.7 points per game. He became the first URI freshman to eclipse 100 assists in a season, leading the team with a total of 109. Powell gives the Rams a facilitating point guard who can spread the floor and create open shot opportunities for his teammates. With a full year of experience under his belt as a starting point guard, he is more comfortable with his role. Mason’s backcourt will need to hold him in check and trap where possible to stunt the flow of the Rams’ offense.
Xavier Munford – Guard -- Junior
Munford played for Coach Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J. in high school but his journey to Kingston would take two years to come to fruition. After playing two years at both Miami-Dade College and Iowa Western College, Hurley reached out to Munford about transferring to URI and his former guard agreed. In his first season at URI, he is averaging 38.2 minutes per game while leading the Rams in scoring with 17.0 points per game. Munford has a knack for getting to the basket and is the prototypical scorer that the Rams have been seeking. Slowing his scoring production down would be beneficial for the Patriots.
The game will be broadcast on CBS Sportsnet at 8 p.m.