PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — College basketball is back in Rhode Island, with all four Division 1 schools starting their seasons Monday night.
Fans will notice some new faces on the sideline, with four new head coaches making their debuts.
Men’s Basketball: The Kim English Era Begins
The Friars enter a new era as head coach Kim English makes his regular season debut at the Amica Mutual Pavilion.
English got right to work when he arrived in Providence, which started with him challenging Jayden Pierre, a sophomore guard who had entered the transfer portal, to a game of 1-on-1. The former NBA athlete turned coach took to Instagram soon after to claim his victory.
Along with Pierre, English was able to keep three other key players from leaving the team in the wake of Ed Cooley’s departure: Bryce Hopkins, Devin Carter and Corey Floyd.
Three players also followed English to Providence from George Mason University: Josh Oduro (First Team All A-10), Ticket Gaines and Justyn Fernandez.
PC will host Columbia at the AMP on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The Friars have a 4-0 record all-time against the Lions.
Women’s Basketball: Batth already making history
Kim English isn’t the only new face in Friartown, with the women’s team welcoming Erin Batth as the first Black female head coach in program history.
Batth was able to retain Olivia Olsen, Grace Efosa and Kylee Sheppard, who had entered the transfer portal after previous head coach Jim Crowley left. Olsen, a junior forward, led the team last year in scoring, rebounds and blocks.
Batth added some Rhode Island ties to the team as well, with the addition of Johnston native Sarah Bandoma, who returns to Rhode Island after spending two years at St. Francis College Brooklyn.
The Friars will take on Hampton University on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.
University of Rhode Island
Men’s Basketball: The Rebuild … Part 2
Head coach Archie Miller went back to the white board after the Rams went 9-22 last season and were eliminated in the first round of the Atlantic 10 playoffs.
The Rams have a clean slate with 11 newcomers, including some key players like Jaden House, who led an exhibition game against Assumption with 19 points, David Fuchs, a 6’9″ freshman from Austria, who has experience in the pros overseas, and Luis Kortright, a transfer from Quinnipiac who lead his team with 41 steals.
Some returners include Brandon Weston, the redshirt sophomore who played his first full collegian season under Miller after suffering an injury at Seton Hall, and Jeremy Foumena, who redshirted his freshman year but added 15 points off the bench during the exhibition.
URI will play CCSU at the Ryan Center on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The Rams have a 2-0 all-time record against the Blue Devils.
Women’s Basketball: Reigning A-10 regular season champs add some speed
After winning the A-10 for the first time last year and finishing first in the preseason poll, the Rams and head coach Tammi Reiss have targets on their backs.
Reiss has completely turned the program around. The Rams went 3-27 and 8-21 in the two years leading up to her arrival. In her first season at URI, the team improved to 13-16, then followed that up in 2020 with their winning season since 2014, going 11-8.
A key returner for the Rams will be senior forward Mayé Touré, the international athlete who increased her playing time from 9.3 minutes per game her sophomore year to 26.0 minutes last season.
Reiss also picked up some guard transfers, including Dee Dee Davis, who Reiss refers to as the “speed demon.” Davis is a graduate transfer from Manhattan. Another transfer for the Rams was Teisha Hyman. The Syracuse guard averaged 10.4 points per game and shot 39.6% from the floor.
The Rams will welcome Sacred Heart to the Ryan Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m.
Men’s basketball: Staying focused in the midst of chaos
There has been a lot of controversy around the Bryant Bulldogs basketball program, as head coach Jared Grasso remains on leave for reasons yet to be disclosed by the school. To fill his shoes, Bryant didn’t have to look far, as interim head coach Phil Martelli Jr. has been an assistant coach since 2018 and was promoted to associate head coach in August 2020.
The Bulldogs have two key returners, with Sherif Gross-Bullock and Earl Timberlake both being named to the preseason all-conference team after averaging double-figure scoring last season. They also welcome three transfers and four freshmen.
Bryant will take on Manhattan at the Chase Athletic Center on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. This is only the second meeting between the two programs, with Bryant winning in overtime last year 104-97.
Women’s Basketball: A new face, and an inspirational story
Lynne-Ann Kokoski will make her head coaching debut at Bryant after the Bulldogs finished 9-21 under Mary Burke last season. Kokoski is the first head coach who is a Bryant alum since 1991.
There will be six newcomers at the Chase Athletic Center, including five freshmen and sophomore transfer Breya Busby. Busby comes from Liberty, but redshirted during the season as she battled leukemia for the second time. She won that fight in March 2022 and committed to playing in Smithfield the following May.
The Bulldogs will still have some familiar faces, including Second-Team All America East and All-Defensive Team athlete Mariona Planes Fortuny. She is now in her senior season, coming off a record-making year for her, in which she had ten 20-point games.
Bryant will start their season with Dartmouth at home Monday, Nov. 6, at 5 p.m.
Men’s Basketball: Continuity and stability is the motto
Head coach Mike Martin keeps 12 returners from last year, after just edging .500 with a 14-13 overall record and 7-7 in conference play. Martin also added five freshmen who continue to learn from the veterans and transition into Division 1 basketball.
Leading the charge for the Bears will be 2023 First Team All-Ivy and 2022 Rookie of the Year Kino Lilly Jr. The junior guard from Maryland averaged 19.9 points per game last season, along with scoring double figures in 25 of the 27 games he played.
Brown will head out on the road to play Colgate on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The Raiders lead the Bears 12-6 in this series overall.
Women’s Basketball: Head Coach Monique LeBlanc keeps her squad in Providence
Similar to the men’s team, the Bears will be bringing back the majority of their team from last year with an impressive 13 returners. Those players make up 90% of their points scored and 95% of their rebounding from last season.
The Bears brought two freshmen to Providence: forward Amiya Hopkins and guard Olivia Young. Hopkins racked up 1,000 points in high school and was also named Defensive Player of the Year.
The Bears will take on Florida Gulf Coast at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m.