As the Seton Hall Pirates and Rhode Island Rams get some games in, their coaches like what they're seeing -- and what they're envisioning weeks from now.
Seton Hall (1-1) travels to Kingston, R.I., for Wednesday night's matchup, fresh off the team's first win of the season, 86-64, over Iona. ThePirates dropped a 71-70 nail-biter to Louisville to open the season and have No. 21 Oregon (Friday) and Penn State (Sunday) after Rhode Island on the schedule.
Pirates coach Kevin Willard, who has only nine healthy scholarship players, said the lack of players limits what can get done in practice, so more of the learning has to come in games.
"I really believe that the only way we're going to get better is by playing really good competition, and this team is nowhere near where we're going to be in a month, Willard said. "Unfortunately, we just don't have the numbers to practice for long periods of time, so ... you're going to use games to get better."
Jared Rhoden gave Seton Hall a lift in the win over Iona, scoring a career-high 26 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including making 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He also had 10 rebounds and three steals and made 9 of 10 attempts from the free-throw line.
Rhoden scored 16 points in the second half as the Pirates overcame a two-point deficit at intermission to outscore the Gaels, 51-27. In the opener against Louisville, he scored only 11 points and made 3 of 12 attempts from the field.
Willard said Rhoden's performance was "more what I was expecting at Louisville, to be perfectly honest with you. Jared went back to being what makes him special. He didn't just try to score; he rebounded, he got on the break. ... His energy and emotion were phenomenal; we really fed off that."
Rhode Island (2-2) has played all of its games in two tournaments at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. First came a pair of close losses -- to a ranked Arizona State team and to Boston College -- followed by convincing wins over South Florida and San Francisco.
"I think you're starting to see right now what we're capable of," Rams coach David Cox said. "Once we get back in the gym and get some more practice under our belt, I think we can take it to another level."
Fatts Russell is averaging a team-leading 17.8 points a game, but in three of their games, the Rams have had four players score in double digits. Antwan Walker and Jeremy Sheppard each are averaging about 11 points per game.
"You just feel so comfortable when you go into battle with Fatts on your team," Cox said. "He's a tremendous leader and a tremendous player."
--Field Level Media