Rhody Rams fans thrilled at first-round win

URI fans watch the Rams play Creighton at Arooga's in Warwick. (Photo: Corey Welch/WPRI)

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Fans of the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team got to see the Rams defeat the Creighton Bluejays on Friday, days after the team punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

“We’re not done yet, hopefully we can make it through the next round and keep the momentum going,” said Richard Siravo, a Class of ’83 alumnus who watched the game at Arooga’s in Warwick with a large crowd of fans. He brought his son Christopher, a longtime fan and former ball boy, to watch the game with him. “You just knew they were going to win today,” the younger Siravo said.

Ben Ratier is a URI junior, too young to even remember the last time the team went to the big dance.

“It’s good to see them playing this well finally, they struggled a lot all year but they’re finally getting it together and they look pretty scary,” Ratier said. “I was only two years old the last time they made it so this is definitely the best I’ve ever seen them play.”

Tom and Bonnie Wheeler, a married couple from Wakefield who both attended URI, traveled to Pittsburgh last weekend with Tom’s sister Ruth Ann Parker (another alumna) to watch the team in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. The win helped the team punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

“It’s been a long drought, but it’s over,” Bonnie Wheeler said. “We’re here.” The trio traveled back to Rhode Island from the game on the same flight as the team.

“They’re fantastic kids, fantastic guys, just wonderful,” Tom Wheeler said.

“These boys play so well as a team and they’re not braggadocios at all,” Barker said. “They’re not beating their chests, and they’re very humble and very team-oriented.”

Some fans were very confident in URI’s chances in the tournament; Scott Beer had this message before the game even started: “I only have one bracket this year, and URI is the national champion.”