Top 64 Countdown: No. 56 Rhode Island

Head coach: Jim Baron
Last season: 19-14, 10-6 in Atlantic-10.
Postseason: None
2007-08 breakdown: Probable starters | Backcourt | Frontcourt | Offense | Defense | Outlook

Backcourt

Jimmy Baron should be near the top of any list of the nation's top outside shooters. The 3-point specialist, whose father is head coach Jim Baron, ranked fourth in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 47.8 percent. He benefited largely from the Rams' switch to an up-tempo offense, which featured a lot of penetrating and dishing.

RHODE ISLAND BULLDOGS
Jimmy Baron was fourth in the nation in 2006 in 3-point percentage.

Probable Starting Five
G Jimmy Baron (14.6 ppg)
G Parfait Bitee (7.2 ppg)
G Keith Cothran (6.3 ppg)
F Will Daniels (17.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
F Kahiem Seawright (11.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
Top Reserves
F Joe Mbang (8.4 ppg)
F Lamonte Ulmer (4.3 ppg)
G Marquis Jones (freshman)
F Jason Francis (transfer)
Parfait Bitee, a native of Cameroon, made a fairly smooth transition from playing on the wing to the point last season. The 6-foot-2 junior excels at penetrating to the hoop, but needs to improve his decision-making (1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) and outside shooting (30 percent from 3-point range).

Keith Cothran gives the Rams versatility and depth. The 6-4 sophomore played 22 minutes a game last season, splitting time at point and on the wing. His best offensive weapon is a mid-range jumper.

Freshman Marquis Jones is expected to earn some minutes at the point and play the role of distributor.

Frontcourt

Much of the Rams' NCAA Tournament hopes rest on the return of Will Daniels. The 6-8 senior the possible preseason player of the year in the Atlantic-10 raised his scoring average from 11 points per game to 17.4 ppg last season.

Daniels is a difficult matchup for nearly every opponent. The veteran has good shooting range he knocked down 51 3-pointers last season and enough strength to do plenty of damage in the paint.

Nearly all of Kahiem Seawright's production comes close the basket. The 6-8 junior averaged 7.5 boards a game last season, ranking fourth in the league. He played well down the stretch last season, scoring in double figures in seven of his last eight games.

Joe Mbang, one of the A-10's top sixth men, is another 3-point threat. Getting consistent production from the 6-7 senior is one of the biggest keys for a postseason bid. The Rams were 10-2 when he scored in double digits and 9-12 when he didn't.

Lamonte Ulmer earned an immediate spot in the rotation as a freshman last season and added valuable depth.

The wide-bodied Jason Francis (6-9, 275) will serve as a backup and is expected to add some toughness on the inside.

Offense

In a league full of slow, methodical offenses, the Rams are the exception. They prefer to push the pace, and their modified motion calls for guards and forwards constantly to attack the basket. That translated into a league-high 76 points a game (the Rams averaged in the 60s in past years).

Defense

The Rams' defense regressed as much as their offense improved last season. They gave up 76 points a game to rank 12th in the 14-team league. Some of it can be blamed on pressing and taking too many risks in an effort to turn up the tempo. The Rams plan to stick more to man-to-man this season.

Outlook with postseason forecast
Dangerous may be the best word to describe the Rams. They are loaded with offensive weapons and experience. They have a go-to guy in Daniels, a great shooter in Baron and a glass cleaner in Seawright. However, they are full of question marks on defense. If they improve without the ball, they'll contend for the A-10 title and their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1999. If not, they might not make any postseason trips.

Shoes to Fill

C Darrell Harris (6.6 ppg). This 7-foot center was a good fit for the offense. A European-style player, he had 3-point shooting range and could handle the ball on the perimeter.

Must Step Up

The bench. The Rams need to continue to get steady production from their reserves. They rely on their depth, which should increase with the addition of four recruits.

Impact Newcomer

G Marquis Jones. The Rams are in need of a pass-first guard who can dribble through traffic. Jones fits the mold.

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

Rivals.com is counting down our Preseason Top 64. Coming tomorrow: No. 55.


 

Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2007 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.