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Rhode Island flips the switch with a new core, head coach

These are certainly not last year’s Rams.

Diamond Head Classic - Rhode Island v Bucknell Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

“It’s good to be back home, it is real good to be back home,” head coach David Cox said, kicking off the press conference following a big comeback win against a struggling Middle Tennessee State this past Sunday.

Following a tough 1-2 showing at Hawaii’s Diamond Head Classic, the Rams were able to run away and pull off the double-digit victory at home prepping them for A-10 play beginning next week.

There were far more questions than answers coming into the 2018-19 season for Rhode Island and its fans. Following senior Jared Terrell’s graduation and a new head coach in tenured assistant David Cox taking over, things were going to be much different in Kingston come the new year.

Cox needed someone to step up in the huddle, command the court and deliver when the Rams needed it most. Boy oh boy has junior Jeff Dowtin shined in that role this season. Dowtin has scored in double-digits in every outing for the Rams and has no plans on slowing down, playing nearly 90 percent of the Rams’ minutes this season and averaging 16.7 points a night.

Coming off of another double-digit outing from Dowtin on Sunday night vs. Middle Tennessee State, finishing with 17 points on 7-12 from the floor, the head coach had nothing but good things to say about his confidence in the Rams’ junior leader.

“This year he had to step into a different role and he took it very seriously all summer,” Cox said. “You have all seen the work he has put into his game. He has always had the ability to score but now he can drive it, the in-between game with the floaters and his three ball is off the charts.”

Ending non-conference play 7-5 is not quite what Cox had in mind when he took over the reins from Dan Hurley in the offseason, however the future is bright. Coming off a 26-8 campaign last season and a win in the NCAA Tournament it was evident what was happening — these players were buying in.

Buying into the program, buying into the coach and most importantly buying into the brotherhood that is URI hoops.

Of all the newcomers on the roster in 2018, no one has impressed David Cox quite like freshman Dana Tate thus far, saying with a wide grin on his face, “this is the Dana we knew we would get. He is a very talented offensive player. He can score at three different levels and he is a really good shooter. I asked him to give me one corner three today, and he said he had me… then he gave me a couple more.”

Next up this week for Cox and Company is two straight road games, St. Louis and Richmond, to kick off the A10 season. Needless to say the Rams are starting to come together in a big way with their new core. The supporting cast in Tate, along with Cyril Langevine underneath, and Fatts Russell, have all been essential to the team’s success.