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Rhode Island Hoops: 2023 Season Preview

Another blog, another chance for me to cry to the heavens while I ask away for an "Ocean State Cup". The basketball landscape in Rhode Island has grown over the years, and the 401 deserves an opportunity to watch these four teams, in their respective conferences and lanes, fight for a state title. I guess I'll have to wait, because today, the College Basketball season begins. We watched the four coaches of the Rhode Island programs get together for the 'Coaches vs. Cancer' tip off breakfast, but today, we preview their upcoming seasons, and the expectations that lie ahead for them.

Brown University Bears

First Game: at Colgate, 7PM

When you think of The Ivy League, you think of Yale and Princeton duking it out at the end. Rightfully so, because last year Princeton was our Cinderella, and we watched them dance to the Sweet 16, shocking the country. You can say that those two teams are the ones with the targets on their backs, and the ones who should be battling it out for a trip to the Big Dance, but don't sleep on Brown and Coach Mike Martin.

The Bears have one of the best players in the conference in guard Kino Lilly Jr. He was a name that came up multiple times in our RI Hoops Player of the Week conversation, and rightfully so. Lilly Jr. led the Bears with 16.9 points per game and begins his junior campaign ranked 10th in program history with 150 three-pointers. They are also bringing back Nana Owusu-Anane, who averaged 10.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, second most in the Ivy League. A captain last year, Owusu-Anane was named to Team Canada's U23 Team for GLOBL Jam this summer. They are deep at all positions, including Aaron Cooley in the front court, and Kalu Anya at the back. If they can stay healthy and still some games, this is a team that could surprise some folks down the stretch.

Bryant University Bulldogs

First Game: vs. Manhattan, 7:30PM

With no update, and no change expected, acting head coach Phil Martelli, Jr. will be leading the Bulldogs in their second season of America East play. With Charles Pride departing for St. Bonaventure, Bryant will be led by its two returning all-conference performers, Sherif Gross-Bullock and Earl Timberlake. SGB was one of the best shooters in the entire conference, averaging a league-best 17.1 points per game while shooting 39.6 percent from three. Timberlake lead the team with 8.4 rebounds per game while averaging 13.8 points and 2.7 assists per game.

The bulldogs bring back Kvonn Craemer, Tyler Brelsford and Doug Edert, while adding St. John and Saint Louis transfers, Rafael Pinzon and Daniel Rivera, respectively. Bryant was placed third in the AE Preseason Poll, behind Vermont and UMass Lowell.

Providence College Friars

First Game: vs. Columbia, 7PM

The Kim English era is underway, and people are sleeping on the Friars. The Big East is the conference to beat, and the talent is loaded from top to bottom, but Providence is no stranger to this. This team lost more than just Ed Cooley, the man who coached the Friars for over a decade. The key departures include Jared Bynum, Ed Croswell, Alyn Breed, Clifton Moore, and Noah Locke.

That seems like a lot to lose, but when you bring back Bryce Hopkins, the positives out way the negatives. He was our Rhode Island Hoops Player of the Year, and led the team in scoring and rebounding at 15.8 and 8.5 per game respectively. He has a case for Big East Player of the Year, and is starting to get some NBA buzz as well. Devin Carter and Jayden Pierre return as well, offering great strength to the front court. The biggest name they brought in was Garwey Dual, who is ranked #38 in the country in the 247 Sports Composite system. He's the third best commit for the Friars since 2000, trailing only Ricky Leo and Kris Dunn. Kim English also brought over three former George Mason players (Josh Oduro, Ticket Gaines, and Justyn Fernandez), who will round out the rotation. On paper, the Friars are a top team in the Big East. Take it a step further, they are a tournament team that could move on past day one. The question is, will Kim English lead them to the promise land and will Bryce Hopkins have another stellar season to bring this team to the Big Dance?

University of Rhode Island Rams

First Game: vs. Central Connecticut, 7PM

The A10 currently has URI as the 14th team out of 15 in their poll. Archie Miller stated "If there were 16 teams in our league, we would have been picked 17. If there were 18 teams in the Atlantic 10, we would have been picked 19." He also said he's excited about this group, and the jury is still out on this Rams squad because of their newness. This team has 11 new players, and not a single one of the starters from last year is back.

A fresh start is probably the best thing for Rhode Island, because last year was a tough one to watch. The Rams were hit with a ton injuries, which resulting them in winning just 9 games and had one of the worst offenses in the conference and the country. The team has ten guards, eight of whom are new, headlined by Zek Montgomery (Bradley), Luis Kortright (Quinnipiac), and Jaden House (High Point), all who are experienced shooters. Their front court saw an increase in size, add Tyson Brown (Florida Southern State), David Green (Hofstra), and David Fuchs (Austria). All are over 6'7, and all provide defensive toughness, and consistent scoring.


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