5 things to know about the Rhode Island men’s basketball team

Dan Hurley
Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley celebrates with players after Rhode Island clinched the Atlantic 10 regular-season title. –AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The University of Rhode Island faces Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.

The Rams earned an at-large bid after winning the A-10 regular season championship with a 23-6 record. Rhode Island, the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region, will face the second-seeded Blue Devils with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

In the first round, the Rams sent Trae Young and Oklahoma packing with an 83-78 overtime win. Cyril Langevine scored 14 points and Jared Terrell added 13 more for Rhode Island as they survived Young’s 28-point performance.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the Rams’ matchup on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. on CBS:

Weymouth’s Jared Terrell is their leading scorer

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The Sooners are locked in on Rhode Island’s senior, screaming his name at practice Monday as they prepared to defend the Weymouth native. Terrell, who averages 17.2 points per game on 41.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc, attended Weymouth High for two years before taking his talents to Brewster Academy. He initially signed with Oklahoma State, which would have forced the Sooner coaches to game plan for Terrell multiple times a season, but switched his commitment to the Rams after his grandmother died and his lead recruiter left the program.

The 6-foot-3, 215 pound guard has scored 1,731 points during his four years in Kingston, and is eighth on the school’s all-time scoring list. Terrell, who welcomed a son, Jared Jr., in September, was named to the first-team All-Atlantic 10 team this season.

Rhode Island’s bus driver thought Dan Hurley was mistreating the team

Dan Hurley, the Rams’ head coach, is a self-described “f***** complete lunatic” who used to lose 13 pounds every year as the stress of the season eroded his appetite. He’s chilled somewhat, trading Red Bull for yoga, but the sailor’s tongue and demanding approach remains. All the emotion on the sidelines and at practice led one of the team’s bus drivers to worry about Hurley’s charges.

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“We had a bus driver who didn’t want to be around us anymore, because he thought Coach Hurley was treating us bad, because of all the cursing he was hearing, all the name-calling,” said senior Stanford Robinson, per the New York Post. “But we’re so close to Coach Hurley, it doesn’t affect us in a negative way. If anything, it gets us better, and makes us push more.”

The players love Hurley for his loyalty and repay him in kind. He said his players don’t transfer because “they know it’s coming from love.” The coach’s fiery intensity can sometimes toe the line, but it gets results.

“He finds the little things and blows it up, and makes it a big deal,” Robinson said. “It gets on your nerves, but it gets on your nerves so much, you’re like I want to shut this man up.”

“He pushes you to get better,” Terrell said. “All of the yelling and screaming and all of the antics and the acting — yeah, it looks crazy, but there’s a method behind his madness. He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to get the best out of his players.”

The Rams are up against a true Duke villain

In the Blue Devils, Rhode Island faces one of the most storied programs in the country. Mike Krzyzewski’s teams have reached the Final Four 12 times during his 38-year tenure in Durham, North Carolina. They’ve also produced a lengthy list of villains (Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, etc.) that seem to unite the rest of the country in opposition. Allen is the latest Blue Devil to raise the nation’s ire. The Duke senior averages 15.7 points, but he’s best known for his history of tripping opponents.

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Rhode Island struggled after cutting down the nets

The Rams clinched the regular season Atlantic 10 title with a win over Dayton on Feb. 23, then proceeded to celebrate by cutting down the nets. Hurley said that’s the last time he’ll climb the ladder in the middle of a season.

“I will never do that again,” Hurley said. “I cost myself at least one game and maybe two.”

In Rhode Island’s next outing, Saint Joseph’s beat the Rams by 30 points on senior night. The Rams followed up that blowout defeat by blowing a six point lead in the final minute against Davidson. The matchup against the Wildcats was their last game of the regular season, but Hurley managed to regroup his team heading into the A-10 tournament. Rhode Island beat VCU 76-67 in the quarterfinal and knocked off Saint Joseph’s in a semifinal rematch before suffering a one point defeat at the hands of Davidson in the championship game.

Dan Hurley had a brother in the bracket

The Rams’ head coach wasn’t the only Hurley to lead a team into the NCAA tournament. His brother Bobby and the Arizona State Sun Devils earned an at-large bid, and Dan was understandably very excited when he heard the news. Dan and Bobby’s father, Bob, is the legendary former St. Anthony High School coach who won 28 state titles in New Jersey on his way to the Naismith Hall of Fame. Bobby won consecutive national championships with Dan’s opponent Saturday, leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four three times.

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