MARK MADNESS | Rhode Island is a team to watch
Rhode Island (4-1) is making their presence known in this early hoops season. When I visited with Dan Hurley at the A-10 media day I sensed that he really believed in his team and for good reason. E.C. Mathews (17.4 ppg, 48% 3 pt) has been sensational and hit clutch shots to beat Cincinnati. Yes, URI lost to Duke but the Rams gave Duke fits at times. This is a really dangerous team.
Cincinnati is (3-1) and Mick Cronin told me that Kyle Washington (17 ppg, 10.5 rpg) has the motor of a Kenyon Martin. Now that comment made my ears stand up like a Doberman. Washington is a double-double machine and a top flight inside scorer. Mick also has AAC Preseason Player of the Year in Troy Caupain and he isn’t even their best player. The night I saw Cincinnati, Jacob Evans stood out and I haven’t even mentioned Gary Clark as the returning Defensive Player of the year in the American. Watch out for Cincinnati!
UMass (3-1) has one of the most exciting freshman guards in the country in DeJon Jarreau (12 ppg, 6 apg, 4.3 rpg). He is dynamic in his ability to explode to the basket and has a nice 3-ball game as well. He hit the game-winner versus Temple. By the way, the UMass-Temple renewed rivalry was a fun game. I had a blast on ASN!
Temple (2-2) showed tremendous improvement from Thursday’s loss at UMass to Sunday’s win at home against Manhattan. Fran Dunphy can really coach. He has a good heart and we spent some time together. It was an honor. Obi Enechionyia (20.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 50% 3 pt) can really shoot when he gets his feet set and Shizz Alston, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 spg) is really coming on. Once Josh Brown gets healthy watch out for the Owls.
The biggest budget discrepancy upset so far? Arkansas State ($1.3 million) 78, Georgetown ($10.35 million) 72 on Nov. 17. That is a difference of $9 million. That’s a lot of basketballs and I hear a lot of bragging from the Sun Belt! The Red Wolves are 4-1.
My heart sank as I watched Dayton (2-1) beating Alabama on the road and at the very end seeing Josh Cunningham (12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 83% FG) crash to the floor on a dunk. He suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle and will miss the next three months. This will be tough to overcome for the Flyers but IF Kendall Pollard can get healthy, that will help.
Above: UMass' DeJon Jarreau is one of the most exciting freshman in the country. (Photo courtesy Thom Kendall/ UMass Athletics).