Rhode Island didn’t just drop a potential resume-building game Monday night at Nevada. They also lost their best player and the front-runner for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, E.C. Matthews.
Rhode Island announced on Tuesday that Matthews will miss 4-to-6 weeks after he fractured his left hand against the Wolf Pack.
The senior guard hasn’t had very good luck when it comes to injuries, as he missed the entire 2015-16 campaign with a torn ACL that was suffered during the first game of the season against American.
Matthews, who was a projected lottery pick during his second year on campus, returned in 2016-17 and averaged 14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He struggled to find his rhythm and regular explosiveness in the first half of the season, but caught fire to close out the year by leading Rhody to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.
Without big man Hassan Martin (who graduated), Matthews was being counted on as the team’s leading scorer and the leader in the locker room. URI still has a deep backcourt that consists of Jeff Dowtin, Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett, Daron ‘Fatts’ Russell and Stanford Robinson, but none have the pedigree of Matthews.
While losing the senior guard won’t affect Rhody’s standing in the Atlantic 10, they won’t have their best players’ services against the likes of Seton Hall, Alabama and Providence. Those are three non-conference games that could boost their resume and impact their seeding come March.
This injury will force Dowtin and Russell to mature quickly, and give Garrett more minutes after an injury prone 2016-17, however, Rhode Island would prefer not to be working their best player into their rotation when conference play rolls around.
The Rams are 1-1 on the season after beating UNC Asheville in their opener and falling to the Mountain West favorite on the road on Monday night. Matthews had 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting against Asheville and poured in 18 points in 30 minutes against the Wolf Pack.
The Rams will host Holy Cross on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET before traveling to New York during Thanksgiving week for the NIT Season Tip-Off.