The Rams won't be taking that plane trip to Madison Square Garden to eventually lose to Syracuse who will win the preseason tournament. They had the lead early and slowly let it slip through the last 25 minutes of the game. It was a home game for Stanford, they fought back and made shots when they needed to. The Rams played well, the refs were bad as usual, college basketball is back! The end score was a 12 point spread but the Rams were within 2 under 3 minutes left in the game. It was close, but the Rams couldn't hit shots down the stretch despite holding Stanford scoreless for 5 minutes down the stretch.
This isn't so much a recap as a first look at the Rams who I finally got to see on TV. Below is a quick breakdown of what I saw.
The Rams will be alright, I expect about the same record as last year. They played much more like a team as a few players have hit their junior seasons.
The offense has some pros and cons without Andy Ogide. Pro column gives us better ball movement. Ogide could slow down the offense sometimes because of his looking for his shot. The Rams looked more like a team then I have seen before. Tim Miles is the real deal. He got the players to buy into a scheme and that is never easy when you get a bunch of 18-21 year old men from all over the country. Greg Smith did slow it down at points looking for his shot, but somebody has to shoot and at times it looked like others were scared to pull the trigger. Smith also looked like he matured over the off season, something people forget that these kids are still growing into their bodies. This is good news for the Rams.
The big con is that the Rams will struggle when their shots are not falling and lack a go to scorer. Last night the Rams were around 25% shooting in the second half. They just didn't have that go to scorer that puts an end to a scoring run by the opposing team. Wes Eikmeier was close to that guy, but is also running the offense and can't just look for his shot. I think Pierce Hornung could step up into this role somewhat as his FG% down low is very good. They don't have the safety net when struggling to just dump it to Ogide and let him go to work. They had make-able shots, Stanford's defense was good but not 25 percent good.
The Rams did another great job at rebounding, they got out rebounded 37-35 to a much bigger Stanford team. Remember that the "big men" for the Rams are coming in around 6'6, that is guard height in some programs. They got 12 offensive rebounds which was big in the first half. On the season the Rams have out rebounded their opponents by 31, that is 10 per game on average. It really is another praise to Tim Miles, the Rams work as a team to rebound and do it well despite being outsized.
Trevor Williams is about useless for being 7 feet tall. No one said he would be great but he is slow and not very physical. The Rams will need to find a big man soon. If they can't this year they have signed 6'8 power forward Jermaine Morgan who is the 7th ranked player in Illinois. It will be interesting to see how Tim Miles manages without a big man. Freshman Chad Calcaterra did get in a game for 5 minutes but only logged a turnover, but its safe to say he isn't ready in Miles' eyes.
The Rams are #62 in the RPI leaving them about where they were last year. On the cut of NIT and NCAA. The Rams are fun to watch, they have that team factor that could carry them farther then some expect.