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The Little East




RIC Hopes To Build On Success

By Brian Buonaiuto


What a difference one year makes. At this time last winter, there was little excitement surrounding the Rhode Island College menís basketball program. Fast forward 12 months and the Anchormen are the buzz around Rhode Island basketball. The team is 8-4 and has given their opposition all they can handle on the hardwood.

When Head Menís Basketball Coach Mike Kelly first came to Rhode Island College in July of 2001, his main goal was to change the perception of the program. "People in the state didnít have a high opinion of us and the people in the program didnít feel proud enough to be here," says Kelly.

Kelly had three goals improve the program: 1) Improve the perception and increase the pride that people had in RIC menís basketball. 2) Improve the talent-level and maintain a team with great student-athletes. 3) Work hard everyday and prepare to win the next game.

After a disappointing 1-24 season last winter, the team has experienced a dramatic improvement this season. The Anchormen have won eight of their first 12 games, including a six-game winning streak that was the longest in 13 years (1989-90). RIC has received a major boost from a trio of transfers from Roxbury Community College, led by junior guard Andre Daley.

"When I came here, there wasnít much support for the team. Now that we have started winning some games, people feel free to support us," says Daley. "Our goal is to keep playing hard and challenge everyone we play. We want to let them know we are here." Daley has done his part, averaging 12.5 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Kelly also feels the improvement in equipment has helped the team feel better about itself. "Our athletic director Don Tencher has been great in supporting us and getting us new uniforms and the guys on our team really feel good about being part of Rhode Island College basketball," says Kelly.

As far as the program coming back so quickly, Kelly knows itís a long road. "We are just taking baby steps right now. Our only goal is to win the next game and take care of that day." The team is comprised of mostly newcomers, with sophomore forward Jason Harris as the lone returning starter on the team. That has presented a unique challenge for the squad and Coach Kelly.

"Since itís a new system and we have a lot of new players, itís is nice to see the team win some games where we have not played well. It shows the team is getting to that point where it can make adjustments on the floor," says Kelly.

Kelly feels the true measure of how far this team has come will be shown when they hit the bulk of the Little East Conference schedule in January and February. "Itís important that we are able to compete in the league, thatís something that will help build a foundation for the program."

Ultimately Kelly hopes to build a team that will compete year in and year out and one day down the road be able to compete for a league title. "The important thing is that we play hard every day and worry about today."



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