January 31, 2020 -Kingston, Rhode Island
Virginia Commonwealth v Rhode Island
We’re Rhode Island born
And we’re Rhode Island bred
And when we die we’ll be Rhode Island dead
So go go Rhode Island island
Go go Rhode Island island
Go Rhode Island
I’ve made it home. The alma mater. The single best place to watch college basketball in all of New England. I love it here.
This is the University of Rhode Island, where I graduated from in 2013. The flagship university in one of the most hoops-crazy states in the union. I love it here.
Established in 1892 as the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, URI has grown to a sprawling university with 17,000 students across four campuses. The flagship sits in Kingston, a small village of South Kingstown.
Kingston isn’t known for much outside the university. The most important historical event there was The Great Swamp Fight in 1675, a battle between Colonial/Pequot forces and the Narragansett tribe that resulted in nearly 1,500 dead and proved to be the beginning of the end of King Philip’s War.
Academically, URI has grown into a top science and research institution. With a well-renowned pharmacy program, and heavy investment in the sciences over the last decade, URI has set itself in a good position heading into the next decade.
Robert Ballard, the man who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic, also works at the university as the director for the Graduate School of Oceanography.
The history and the future blend together across the campus’ more than 1,200 acres.
The Good Eats
Tilly’s didn’t exist when I was in school. It was just an empty lot that I’d drive by on my way to the train station or the liquor store. Today, it’s one of the best restaurants I regularly go to in New England and it would have destroyed my wallet and waistline if I was still a student.
Tilly’s serves cheesesteaks, fries, and shakes. And they are damn good. A small spot that sits maybe four dozen, it brings it with the quality in a major way.
And sticking with the low-fi aesthetic they don’t take your name when you order. They give you a card. A playing card.
The cheesesteak is amazing. The french fries are amazing. The homemade pickles tie it all together. 12/10. Absolutely take the short drive down route 138 and grab yourself a sandwich before the game.
The Ryan Center opened in 2002 and replaced the historic and cramped Keaney Gym, which now is the home for the volleyball team.
Sitting just over 7,600 people, the Ryan Center feels bigger than it is and truly has no bad seat in the building. If there was a concern it would be that there is no center-hung scoreboard, but other than that it truly is a perfect building.
I spent 3.5 years covering the team for the school paper and loved every second of it. This place really is a home for me when it comes to sports in New England. Even as an alum I still make sure to get a miniplan every year so I can get back.
And on this night it was a Ram family reunion with VCU in town for a massive A-10 tilt. The Ryan Center can get real damn loud when it’s half full. Tonight it was sold out.
And Rhody delivered in a huge way, jumping VCU early and blowing the roof off the place. The Rams never trailed and kept rolling it up.
The lead grew from 10 to 15 to 20 and eventually capped at 29 in the second half. VCU cut it back in the final 10 minutes but never got it back into single figures.
Fatts Russell was dynamic with 30 points. Tyrese Martin continued growing into the future star that he’s sure to be as an upperclassman with 18 points. Jeff Dowtin, the captain, had 17.
And Cyril Langevine teased a double-double, putting in 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He also left the Ryan Center with one for the road.
Rhode Island 87, Virginia Commonwealth 75. Final.
Before the game I was in the Rhody Pub mixing and mingling and saw a guy in an old Rhode Island jersey trimmed in gold. Rhody hasn’t had gold in their jerseys since the 80s.
His name was Alan. I asked him where he found it. It wasn’t found. It was his old jersey from his club lacrosse days as a student back in 1983. He was the game with his friend John. Alan comes once a year back to campus with John to rekindle old times and keep his personal connection with the school alive.
I asked him why keep coming back. Simply put, it’s the alumni pull. It’s the desire to return to school and breathe in the air of being a student for just a few hours.
And as I shook his hand to go on my way he noticed my Alpha Epsilon Pi bracelet. His son is in the chapter at UConn.
College basketball. Small world.