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New Look Ram URIs Seek To Forge Their Own Identity

By on November 3, 2021 0

When the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team took to the court last season, everyone knew who was going to lead the way.

Despite his injuries, Fatts Russell led the Rams in points (14.7 points per game), assists, steals and free throws. Prior to transferring to Maryland this year, the playmaker set the school’s all-time record for interceptions (213). He also finished his URI career sixth for assists and steals.

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After finishing 10-15 last season, one of the Rams’ biggest questions is existential: what is their identity? Who are they after losing their leader and best player? How strong will this team be? That’s a question URI coach David Cox won’t be able to answer right away.

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“It’s a pretty loaded question,” Cox said last week. “I say this because first and foremost speaking of Fatts, I really enjoyed the time Fatts was here, as did the whole of Rhody Nation. He left everything on the ground. He played extremely hard for us and helped us win a lot of games. But his time has passed. He moved forward. I wish him and his family the best.

“We’re really focused on this team this year, and we’ve got a number of guys who have a huge amount of college experience and have had their ups and downs in college and are at the point where they’re definitely able to lead.”

When it comes to the guard post, Cox will look to four players – Jeremy Sheppard, Ishmael El-Amin, Ishmael Leggett and Malik Martin.

Ishmael Leggett, right, will be among the URI players the team will count on to pick up where Fatts Russell left off.

Rhode Island’s ground general this season will be Sheppard. The senior finished second on the team in scorers (11.3 points per game) last season and led URI with 37 3 points. El-Amin is a transfer from Ball State. Son of former UConn star Khalid El-Amin, he scored 16.2 points per game last season. Leggett played 19.6 minutes per game and averaged 6.6 points in his first year. A junior, Martin averaged 5.6 points for the URI last year after being transferred from Charlotte.

For Sheppard, Russell’s departure opens up a great opportunity.

“I kind of grew up playing point guard. This is my usual position. I am extremely happy to be back in the lead, ”said Sheppard. “These roles are big roles – some of the biggest roles on the pitch. I put a lot of passion into it. I did a lot of work being more vocal. Of course, I had a leadership role last year, but it’s more important this year now that I’m back in that leadership role. Kiss him and attack him. Really excited for the season and ready to go.

In the frontcourt, the Rams should be led by twins Makhel Mitchell and Makhi Mitchell. And despite the loss of his top player, Cox is eager for his squad to show the nation their new identity, which will develop over the season.

URI coach David Cox said the Rams "forming our own identity right now.  We put last year behind us.

“We are forming our own identity right now. We put last year behind us, ”Cox said. “We’re really excited to know where we are at this point. We’re excited to show not only the rest of this conference but the rest of this country what Rhode Island Rams basketball really is. So we move forward. We are determined to form our own identity, and that will be typical of a Rhode Island Rams team.

“We’re going to play a physical brand of basketball. We will dictate on both sides. We will put the pressure on and be relentless in our efforts. So far that’s what I’ve seen of these guys in practice. I am excited to go out and show this to the rest of the country. “

URI opens its season next Tuesday against Johnson & Wales.

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