Friday, January 26, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Connecticut

January 27, 2007

The Connecticut Huskies have lost six of their last eight games and find themselves at just 2-4 in Big East games. They begin a key stretch that will likely define their season when they host Providence College on Saturday afternoon. The Friars got out of the gate quickly, winning their first two Big East games, but they have lost three of their last four and sit at 3-3 in the Big East.

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


Providence has not had much luck away from the Dunkin Donuts Center so far this season. They have lost at Florida (by 18), lost to Florida State in Tampa (by 30) and lost both of their conference road games (Louisville and Seton Hall). They are coming off a home loss to a hot Villanova team on Tuesday night, 82-73, as the Friars were forced into 22 turnovers which offset their 55% shooting in the game.

Since returning from a suspension for violating team rules, Sharaud Curry has averaged 15.8 PPG, but he is shooting just 36% from the floor and has more turnovers (18) than assists (14) in the four games, which they have lost three of the four. He needs to be more effecient with the basketball and continue to allow Herbert Hill, Geoff McDermott and Weyinmi Efejuku to be involved in the offense.

We all know about the youth of the Connecticut Huskies, but that excuse is wearing thin for Jim Calhoun as the inconsistency of their offense and their tendency to go through long stretches where they can not find the basket continues to lead to losses, home or away. The Huskies play hard, and calhoun does not fault them for that, but they are still not doing the little things nor are they playing smart. Shooting has been awful, even from the foul line, and when it looks like a player is ready to step forward, the next game, he looks completely lost again.

With three of their next four at home (PC, Rutgers and SU) for UConn, with a road game with Depaul, the time is now to make their move and get some kind of confidence in what they are trying to do. In order to do so, they are going to have to play strong inside. With Herbert Hill and Geoff McDermott, along with Jonathan Kale and Ray Hall off the bench, the Friars are strong and tough inside. Connecticut can counter with Jeff Adrien, but the rest of the troops are athletic and long, but lack some of the physical physique to battle hard in the Big East. On the perimeter, Jerome Dyson, AJ Price and Doug Wiggins are going to use their quickness to force Providence into turnovers and force them to play uptempo to hopefully forget about their interior advantage. UConn needs to take advantage of the turnovers and convert them into points, whether from the field or the line.

The Pomeroy Computer still gives the Huskies a lot of respect, forecasting them as an 11-pt winner in Saturday's contest. I will go with UConn because I think they are due to hit some shots and play a solid all-around game and the PC road record sticks out to me. However, I do think it will be a tight game as Providence stands toe to toe inside and hits the boards for points in the paint.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Connecticut 69 Providence 64

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Villanova @ Providence

January 23, 2006

In what is a VERY important game to both teams, Providence and Villanova hook up in the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence for a Big East conference match-up. The Friars have gotten off to a 3-2 conference start, winning all three games in the 'Dunk' in Big East play. Villanova is off to a 2-3 conference start but have been mighty impressive in their last two outings, beating Notre Dame 102-87 and out-lasting Texas 76-69 on Saturday without Curtis Sumpter.

Here are some of the pregame stories and articles found on the internet on today's game:

Preview: Villanova @ PC (Providence Journal)
Nardi's New Approach (Centre Times Daily)
Young Cat Becomes a Leader (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Aggressive Style Has Kept Wildcats Lean, Mean (Providence Journal)

For Providence, having this game at home makes it a must-have. After falling in back-to-back games to Louisville and Seton Hall on the road, the Friars returned home and righted the ship against lowly Rutgers. The Friars have a little bit of everything with athletes (Herbert Hill, Weyinmi Efejuku), toughness (Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale) and shooting (Sharaud Curry, Brian McKenzie, Dwain Williams). They also get some production off their bench, but they still need to improve defensively and in taking care of the basketball. Turnovers killed them against Seton Hall and led to them falling behind by a lot early against Louisville. Tonight, they will need to take care of the ball and for Curry to do a better job of getting everyone involved first and then getting his offense secondly.

There is a question on the health of Villanova star Curtis Sumpter, which worries me about this game. Sumpter is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats, but in his absence another star may have been born as Scottir Reynolds took control of th egame for Villanova, scoring 26 points and that was following a 27-pt effort against Notre Dame. The Wildcats are going to need a good floor game from Mike Nardi and for him to hit some shots and see production from their frontline of Shane Clark, Dante Cunningham and Will Sheridan for them to get a win if Sumpter is out of the line-up.

I have seen Providence and Villanova both favored by a point, so the game is essentially a 'pick 'em' contest. Without Sumpter, I do not see Villanova being able to score enough on the road in this contest. However, if Sumpter is able to play, he rounds out the Villanova attack and gives them a little extra rebounding which should lead them to a win. It is a cop out, but I see a close game either way with Sumpter being the difference.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Rutgers @ Providence

January 20, 2007

For the first week of the conference season, the Providence College Friars were the story of the conference. However, a pair of road losses to Louisville and Seton Hall have sent PC tumbling back into the log jam that is the middle of the Big East conference.

I honestly must say, hope for Rutgers this season is not very bright. Rutgers did show some signs of life offensively against Georgetown on Wednesday, but it came when the came was well in hand for the Hoyas and after a putrid 1st half in which they scored 13 points!

A week ago, things were looking good for Providence as they were 2-0 in the conference and getting Sharaud Curry back from a suspension. However, with him in the line-up, they have dropped two straight including a heart-breaking loss at Seton Hall when they were unable to convert two scoring opportunities in the last few seconds, including an aopen attempt under the basket by Geoff McDermott as time expired in a one point loss.

Rutgers has not had much luck at all. Their shooting is horrible and their post offense is not much better. Providence shoudl have little trouble on their own court scoring against Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights will be hard-pressed to keep up.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 82 Rutgers 64

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Seton Hall

January 17, 2007

Scrappy seton Hall looks to avenge their 22-pt loss on the road to Providence when they welcome the Friars to the Meadowlands tonight. The Pirates open a two-game homestand that will challenge SHU on both ends with Georgetown coming in Friday. Providence dropped their first conference game on Saturday when they hit the road for a trip to Louisville. It was the first game back for Sharaud Curry, their leading scorer and point guard, following suspension. He will look to mesh a little better with his teammates tonight as Seton Hall will look to turn up the tempo like the Cardinals did to neutralize the frontcourt advantage of PC.

Here are a couple pre-game stories from the internet:

Staring Acriss Enemy Lines (Providence Journal)
Seton Hall/Providence Scouting Report (Courier News)

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


After sitting out four games due to a suspesnion for violating team rules, Sharaud Curry made his return to the Providence line-up over the weekend at Louisville. It was not a great debut as Curry shot 4-17 from the floor and committed six turnovers in a 78-63 loss to the Cardinals. As a whole against the frantic pressure of Louisville, Providence turned it over 26 times and battled foul toruble throughout.

Agianst Seton Hall, they will see a similar plan of attack as the undersized Pirates will try to pressure the Friars all over the court for 40 minutes. In their first meeting Providence dominated the backboards, outrebounding the Pirates 47-26 and did a decent job against the pressure, turning it over 16 times. The Friars are the much deeper team and will throw their own press at the Pirates and play zone, forcing SHU to play in the half court, something they are not very good at yet.

Seton Hall lost at Notre Dame over the weekend but they kept coming at the Irish. Seton Hall has their shortcomings, but they will never give up as Bobby Gonzalez will have them working the entire game. However, they just don't have enough inside to get this one done tonight. Providence is a 1-pt favorite and should complete the sweep of the Pirates.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 81 Seton Hall 74

Earlier prediction was a typo

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Friday, January 12, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Louisville

January 13, 2007

One of the most interesting games of the day on Saturday pits Louisville and Providence at Freedom Hall. Louisville rebounded from their conference-opening loss at Notre Dame to run past South Florida in the 2nd half by going small for an 81-55 win. Providence was the talk of the conference in the first week by opening conference play with a pair of home wins over Marquette and Seton Hall.

One big key for Providence is the return of Sharaud Curry from a suspension for violation of team rules. Curry leads PC in scoring and teams with Geoff McDermott and Herbert Hill to provide the Friars with top-line production from a 'big three' trio. However, that might not be the reason the Friars are off to such a good start, to me it is the improved production from Weyinmi Efejuku that gives the Friar atatck balance and when Curry was out, freshman Dwain Williams filled in adequately giving him more experience and confident to be a productive member off the bench.

Things have not gone very smoothly for Louisville this season. Injuries again have caused the Cardinals to be very inconsistent and they were without Andre McGee and Juan Palacios in their win over South Florida. McGee may be done for the season, but Palacios will hopefully suit up and play on Saturday. Also, the distraction that is Derrick Caracter continues as he did not even accompany the team to South Florida, so his availability is unknown and another talented freshman, Earl Clark, didn't see the floor in the blowout. Louisville looked their best with a small line-up of Terrence Williams, Brandon Jenkins, Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith with David Padgett in the middle. That is going to be a tough go against Providence with their strong frontcourt. The return of Palacios will definitely help the UL cause and a home crowd supporting them will give them a little extra adrenaline.

I am always leary of a team playing their first conference road game, so I am treading a little cautiously on Providence in this one. I think they are going to start slow, but crank things up in the second half, but it might be a little toolate as the added confidence of a good start helps Louisville in this one and they make the right plays down the stretch (considering that Palacios is playing).

NBE Blogger Prediction: Louisville 75 Providence 73

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Friday, January 05, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Seton Hall @ Providence

January 6, 2007

Providence, after knocking off Marquette on Thurday night, has a quick turnaround as they host the Pirates of Seton Hall on Saturday night. Both teams are looking to get off to a 2-0 start to kickstart their conference seasons.

This is expected to be the last game of Sharaud Curry's suspension for a violation of team rules and look for Seton Hall to try and pressure the Providence ballhandlers all over the court. This game is likely to be played at a wide-open pace and as long as Dwain Williams and Weyinmi Efejuku can keep the ball in the hands of the right colored jerseys, the Friars should have a field day finishing inside against the non-existant frontcourt of the Pirates.

Seton Hall will need Jamar Nutter to be connecting from the perimeter and their pressure, led by Eugene Harvey, Larry Davis and Paul Gause to create havoc with the Friars and keeping them fron setting up shop inside for Herbert Hill and Geoff McDermott to finish strong. The Friars have looked tough, having Curry to handle the Pirate pressure would make this game a no-brainer, but it could cause some trouble at times and if Nutter and Gause can connect from the perimeter, the Pirates will be in this game throughout.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 84 Seton Hall 77

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Providence

January 4, 2006

An interesting game a couple weeks ago might even be more interesting now with who might not be playing than with who will be playing. It is pretty much certain, although still nothing official, that Providence will be without their point guard and leading scorer Sharaud Curry, suspended for violating team rules. On the other hand, the clear advantage that Marquette enjoyed over Providence, and any other Big East team, on the perimeter could be washed away with the mishap in practice causing Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews to bump heads, leaving their status for tonight's tip-of uncertain as of yesterday.

Here are the game preview stories from around the internet:

Marquette's Road Show in Town (Providence Journal)
McNeal, Mathews Might Not be Ready (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Marquette Basketball Preview (Post-Crescent)
Marquette/PC Scouting Report (P-J)


This had all the makings of a big early season game. One team (Providence) looking to stamp themselves as a contender for the upper-echelon of the conference while the other (Marquette) looked to set off on the road and gain a one-up advantage on the rest of the challengers by wrestling a tough road win from a solid team. However, now we sit and wonder who will be on the floor and who wont be at game time.

It is more of a known certainty that Sharaud Curry will not be on the floor for the Frairs tonight. The sophomore point guard has been suspended for the last two games for a violation of team rules. Curry had been averaging a team-high 17 PPG and 5.6 assists for the offensive juggernaut that has become the Friars. Without him available, freshmen Dwain Williams takes over the ball-handling duties with additional help from Weyinmi Efejuku and Brian McKenzie. In Curry's first game out, Florida State feasted on that line-up, forcing 22 turnovers in a 30-pt romp over the Friars. Efejuku and Williams combined for just 5 assists and 11 turnovers in that contest, just the kind of shaky ballhandling that the Marquette trio of ballhawking guards (Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and wes Mathews) lick their chops to play against. However, it is uncertain of the availability of McNeal and Mathews tonight, throwing Marquette's decided advantage literally out the window as they would probably go with freshman David Cubillan in one spot and Dan Fitzgerlad in the other.

Providence still has plenty of fire-power left without Curry as bruising pt-forward Geoff McDermott would be a very tough match-up for Marquette. The sophomore averages a stat-stuffer line of 11 pts, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Herbert Hill mans the middle and averaged 15.5 PPG on 73% shooting and the athletic Efejuku has upped his scoring role this year netting 15/game as well. Big men Ray Hall and Jonathan Kale offer solid relief to the frontcourt off the bench and Charles Burch has been throught he Big East battled before.

With Marquette, they will still be led by super sophomore PG Dominic James. The explosive 5'10 James has picked up where he left off last year averaging a team-best 17 PPG and whith his comrades in McNeal and Mathews, he finds room to penetrate and score in a variety of ways. McNeal leads the nation in steals and is the type of player that would give the Friar backcourt fits with his defensive ability. If he is ready to go, I think Marquette forces Providence out of their offensive sets often and wreaks havoc on the Friars inexperienced ballhandling corps. Without Mathews and McNeal, Providence will have better luck getting into their offense and able to exploit Marquette's softer-side, their frontcourt. The will find it easier to run things through McDermott who can post and dish inside to Hill or kick out to some solid shooters.

Marquette enters the game as a 1-pt favorite. With McNeal and Mathews, I think the Golden Eagles get the first road victory of the Big East season. Without, I think Providence holds serve on their home court as Marquette struggles to get offense from their defense and mis-fires on the road from deep.

NBE Blogger Prediction (MU with M&M): Marquette 73 Providence 64
NBE Blogger Prediction (MU w/out M&M): Providence 75 Marquette 66

What do you think?

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