#A10WBBTIPOFF: 2018-19 Rhode Island Rams SEASON PREVIEW
Welcome to the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tipoff for the 2018-19 Season. Today, we feature the Rhode Island Rams.
Rhode Island (Predicted A-10 Finish: 13th)
A late-summer trip to Portugal and Spain sets the tone for what Rams Coach Daynia La-Force predicts will be a dramatic rebound.
“We bonded. We laughed. We ate well,” she said. “We saw things that were magnificent in terms of the sites and castles that were there. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
They also played some basketball.
“We got contributions from every member of the team,” she said. “I feel very confident we’re going to have a good year, and I would not say that if I hadn’t seen them against the professional players overseas.
“We’re tired of losing and we know how to win and we’re ready to win.”
The Rams adopted a #beBRAVE mindset overseas with plans to implement that mentality in behavior, relationships, attitude, environment and values. All those intangibles affect the culture of the program, La-Force said. “We had an opportunity to put in all those concepts overseas. Rebuilding takes time and you have to build a positive foundation to win.
“Intangibles are paramount for this program.”
A look at the Rams:
Coach: Daynia La-Force 5th season at Rhode Island 38-81 and 14th season overall 174-249
Last year: 3-27 (lost in first round of Atlantic 10 Championship to Fordham, 75-53).
Impact returners: 6-5 junior center Nicole Jorgensen 14.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg; 5-11 sophomore guard Abby Streeter7.8 ppg; 5-7 redshirt junior guard Elemy Colome7.6 ppg.
Newbies of note: 5-11 redshirt sophomore guard Davida Dale, transfer from Syracuse; 6-1 redshirt sophomore guard Erin Jones, a transfer from Hartford; 6-foot junior guard Savannah Clark, a transfer from Miami Dade College, who averaged 18.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg.
Reasons to be optimistic: In addition to her starters returning, La-Force will lean on four newcomers who sat out last season, including hometown girl Dale, a Providence native, who was part of the Syracuse team that went to the National Championship game in 2016.
Colome had a particularly good summer and showing overseas. “She’s going to be special for us,” La-Force said. Ditto for Streeter, who’s added to her game and is comfortable putting the ball on the floor in addition to be a shooter.
The Rams’ summer was particularly beneficial for Portugal native Marta Vargas, who not only met up with her teammates in her home country but also competed in the U-18 Women’s European Championship in Lisbon. “She’s coming back with more national team experience, and she learned how to be a point guard in the A-10 under fire,” La-Force said of Vargas, who started 23 games as the Rams lead guard as a freshman in 2017-18. “That’s not an easy thing to do. She’s coming back with a wealth of experience.”
La-Force recruited Dale, a capable point guard, out of high school and is glad to have her at Rhode Island. Ideally, Dale and Vargas will both be on the floor together. In addition, 6-4 senior forward Jalissa Ross, who started 29 games a year ago and led the team in blocked shots, promises improved versatility.
X-factor: Rhode Island doesn’t lack for scoring options, but can this group stop anyone? The Rams ranked last in the 14-team A-10 and 315thin Division I in scoring defense. Look for Jorgensen to lead the way in turning those stats around. “She’s really taken responsibility and accountability for being a better player for us,” La-Force said.
Circle the date: Nov. 8, Boston College. “It will be on opening night at home and playing a local ACC opponent will be a test of our resolve, our resilience and our attitude moving forward,” La-Force said.
Bottom line: A year of experience and an influx of intriguing newcomers set the Rams up for continued growth.