RIC loose and rolling
|Tahrike Carter shared the
team high with 13 points in RIC's conference final win against
Rhode Island College athletics photo
Tahrike Carter stood up in the locker room and demanded his team's attention. He had seen enough.
Carter, after Rhode Island College's less-than-inspiring 45-43 win against Bates, spoke openly about the need for a more positive and loose atmosphere in practice. When Carter, the Anchormen's senior captain and emotional leader speaks, everyone takes it to heart -- even the coach.
Bob Walsh, in his eighth season as Rhode Island College's coach, made a crucial and difficult decision after that win on Nov. 25, 2012. Walsh decided to hand over the reins of the team's offense to the players.
Not completely, of course. Walsh is still the coach, after all. But he made up his mind to get off his players' backs.
"I thought about it and realized, after talking to him, that he was really talking to me. I needed to sort of let go," Walsh said. "We were playing really, really tight and tentative offensively, and I never want my teams to play that way. After that, I went back the next day at practice and said, 'You know what? I'm giving up the offense. You guys are giving me the defensive end, that's always what I've asked for. I'm giving you the offense.'"
Four days later, Rhode Island College exploded for 10 3-pointers and 68 points in a win over then-No. 1 MIT. All Walsh had to do was get out of the way of himself and his players.
Since that radical decision, the Anchormen have gone 20-3, won their fourth regular-season LEC title in five years, won their third LEC conference tournament in four years, and, perhaps most impressively, reached their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament.
"We've been able to find a way to win regardless of how we've played or who the opponent is all year," Walsh said. "It's been a great run so far."
The "so far" is key for Walsh. He and his team, led by Carter and upperclassmen like Nyheem Sanders, Tom DeCiantis, Steven Roberts and Michael Palumbo, are far from content with another NCAA appearance. Perhaps more than any of the previous six trips, the expectations for a deep tournament run are realistic.
As Walsh is quick to point, the Sweet 16 teams in 2010 and 2011 had to win the conference tournament to reach the NCAA field. This year's team, had it lost in the conference tournament, would have received an at-large bid by virtue of its record.