With guard E.C. Matthews going down with a knee injury during the first half of Rhode Island’s season-opening win over American Friday night, the fear was that the preseason all-conference selection would be lost for the season. Saturday afternoon those fears became reality, as the school announced that the junior guard will not play again this season.
“The injury I sustained on Friday night vs. American will unfortunately keep me from playing the rest of this season,” Matthews said in the release. “While the news has been a lot to process in such a short period of time, I know that it is a temporary setback and I will be back stronger and hungrier than ever before. Whether it is a rehab or physical therapy session, I will fight to get better everyday. This is a new challenge and I am up for it.
“I plan on using this setback as an opportunity to continue to grow as a student, a leader, and a man. I will be at every study hall, every practice, every film session, every game – no different than before.”
As a sophomore Matthews averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, earning second team all-Atlantic 10 honors. With the athletic Matthews out of the lineup head coach Dan Hurley will have to call on Jarvis Garrett, Jared Terrell and Four McGlynn for even more production on the perimeter. McGlynn, who arrived at URI as a grad student by way of Towson, scored 15 points against American and gives the Rams much-needed perimeter shooting.
Terrell may be the best equipped of the three to pick up where Matthews left off as a slasher, and 6-foot-4 freshman Christion Thompson will also factor into the Rhode Island backcourt rotation. While this is a major loss for Rhode Island, by no means does Matthews’ injury mean they can’t contend in the Atlantic 10 or reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. There are adjustments to be made, but the talent and experience needed to do so is there.
Rhode Island’s season-opening win over American, a game in which they rebounded from a slow start to win 65-42, may have come at a significant cost for a team expected to contend in the Atlantic 10.
Junior guard E.C. Matthews left the game in the first half with a knee injury, going down on a drive to the basket. Matthews left the Ryan Center for further examination and according to the school more will be learned when he undergoes more tests on Saturday. It goes without saying that losing one of the conference’s top players would be a major hit for Dan Hurley’s team to absorb, especially at this point in the season.
Matthews was later taken to the locker room by URI trainer Mike Monteiro and team physician Ramin Tabaddor and did not return. He will undergo a full battery of tests on his knee at some point on Saturday. The Rams expect to update his status later this weekend.
“He’s one of the greatest kids you’ll ever coach,” Hurley said. “He stands for all the right things. He’s got a great family. He’s been a pillar of this thing here. No one can match his work ethic or dedication.”
The Rams pulled away thanks to a balanced offensive effort led by guard Four McGlynn (15 points) and Jared Terrell (14), and a defense that forced 17 American turnovers that they converted into 25 points. In addition to the turnovers Rhode Island limited the Eagles to 34.8 percent shooting from the field, with Jesse Reed being held to just seven points on the night.
With Matthews unavailable McGlynn played 25 minutes off the bench and freshman Christion Thompson played 18. Should Matthews be sidelined for an extended period of time, those are the two players (in addition to starters Terrell and Jarvis Garrett) who would absorb those minutes moving forward.
Given the fact that they’ll begin the 2015-16 season with four upperclassmen in their front court rotation, it comes as no surprise that Rhode Island has looked to address this in their recruiting efforts for the Class of 2016. Having already landed commitments from two forwards, head coach Dan Hurley and his staff reeled in a third in the form of St. Patrick’s (New Jersey) forward Cyril Langevine Thursday afternoon.
News of Langevine’s commitment was first reported by SNY.tv, and he joins Mike Layssard and Michael Tertsea in Rhode Island’s 2016 class.
Langevine played for the Playaz Basketball Club on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, and at the Nike Peach Jam averaged 7.2 rebounds and three blocks per game. Langevine had a good visit to URI last weekend, and that led to his committing to the Atlantic 10 program. Bill Koch of the Providence Journal made note of a similarity between Langevine and current Ram Hassan Martin, who’s one of the top players in the Atlantic 10.
Langevine enters his senior season with the Celtics as a young 17-year-old, similar to Martin during his final campaign with Staten Island Curtis in 2012-13. He flashed considerable rebounding and shot-blocking ability this summer with the NJ Playaz on Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball circuit, finishing second on the team in both categories.
“Coach Carr and Coach Hurley saw that from the get-go,” (St. Patrick head coach Chris) Chavannes said. “They’ve been on him ever since – they’ve done a phenomenal job.”
Rhode Island has two seniors in Ifeanyi Onyekaba and Earl Watson, and both Martin and Kuran Iverson will be juniors. And with the Rams adding just one front court player in the 2015 class (Nikola Akele, with Leroy Butts not being cleared academically), URI was in a spot where they needed to add front court options for the future.
They’ve been able to do that, with a player in Langevine whose upside has been mentioned by many scouts being the latest addition to the program.