Rhode Island’s 71-65 loss at Old Dominion Tuesday night proved to be a costly defeat, as they lost their best player for the foreseeable future due to injury.
Junior forward Hassan Martin, who played in just 11 minutes Tuesday night as a result of injuring his left ankle in the first half, has been declared out indefinitely according to Bill Koch of the Providence Journal. The Rams won’t play again until December 30 against Brown in their final non-conference game before the start of Atlantic 10 play.
URI opens up conference play with home games against Saint Louis (January 2) and Richmond (January 5), and according to Koch’s report it’s likely that Martin will at the very least miss the games against Brown and SLU.
Martin’s currently averaging a team-best 11.9 points per game while also contributing 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per contest. He’s one of the nation’s best defenders, so losing Martin is a serious blow for Dan Hurley’s Rams to absorb. How long Martin remains sidelined as a result of the injury remains to be seen.
URI is already playing without junior guard E.C. Matthews, who suffered a torn ACL in the team’s season opener against American.
Saturday night in-state rivals No. 23 Providence and Rhode Island met in Kingston, and as many expected the game did not disappoint. The Friars got off to a quick start only to see the Rams respond with a 20-4 run, and from that point onward the two Ocean State teams traded punches throughout in a game that was decided as time expired by Providence forward Ben Bentil.
Following a Jared Terrell jumper with 6.2 seconds remaining Providence point guard raced up the court, releasing a shot attempt with enough time to allow Bentil to tip in the miss just before time expired. The game-winner capped a 23-point, eight-rebound night for Bentil, who to this point in the season has not only been one of the Big East’s most improved players but one of the most improved players in the country as a whole.
Terrell led four Rams in double figures with 19 points.
Video credit: ESPN
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.