University of Rhode Island Head Coach Dan Hurley joined Chris DiSano on the College Chalktalk podcast to discuss all things URI basketball as the regular season has concluded and the Rams prepare for the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Rhody faced adversity and injuries all season long, but ultimately finished at 17-14, 9-9 in Atlantic 10 play. While they played the entire season without last year's leading scorer E.C. Matthews and major stretches without 2014-15 2nd team All-Conference performer Hassan Martin, the shortened rotation allowed Hurley to experiment with strategies he wouldn't normally employ.
"It forces you, in a year like this, to probably not quite be as stubborn as a coach in terms of maybe your beliefs," said Hurley. "At the defensive end, it's been fun to play a little zone and see if it works," the Rhody Head Coach said with a laugh.
"When you have a normal depth year, pressure defense is obviously a big part of what I like to do, but playing more zone down the road, trying to play faster, it's really getting away from the rock fights as much as you possibly can. I think next year for us you're going to have the type of talent across the board, size to play it a bunch of different ways and I've got to be flexible enough to coach it a bunch of diefferent ways," said Hurley after he'd discussed the play ofJarvis Garrett, Jared Terrell and the rest of the underclassmen and how they've grown this season.
Speaking of Martin and Matthews, Hurley's focus has been on their health first, before expounding on a clear path he has for both of them in terms of their basketball development.
"They're the two cornerstones of the program and to have them both go down has been tough. I think Hass learned a lot from the year. We know exactly how we need to go with him physically. He's got to get his body weight down hopefully ten or twelve pounds. Get a little lighter, work on his passing, work on his ball handling...so that we can play him with another big.
"E.C. needed a mental year like this," said Hurley. "His mental game is going to be so much better. He says something really smart, or asks a really smart question everyday, and he's been watching the great players, he's been watching the really good teams and how they operate and I think the step back will be really great for him and his career."
Hurley also touched on a number of other topics, including the jobs done by some other A10 coaches and the future of his team, discussing the incoming URI class and how they'll fit into the program, noting that URI should have one of the most talented rosters in the Atlantic 10 and the school's history.