Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ South Florida

February 28, 2007

Providence heads south to meet the South Florida Bulls on Wednesday night in a Big East Conference match-up. The Friars need to rebound from a tough home loss to Syracuse on Saturday that has put their NCAA Tournament chances in grave condition. Road wins to finish the conference schedule against South Florida and St. John's will not necessarily put them in any better position, but it will give them some hope as they head to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament next week.

At South Florida, they are winding down their second season in the Big East without hope for the post-season. The Bulls have already been eliminated from qualifying for the Big East Tournament and are wrapping up their season.

Here is the lone pregame article currently found on the internet:

Friars Need to be Driven in Last Two Road Tests (Providence Journal)

Providence is a 3.5-pt road favorite tonight as they look to earn their 8th conference win against the 3-11 (Big East) Bulls. Neither team is very deep, but the Friars have more talent. They are led by their excellent inside-out duo of Sharaud Curry and Herbert Hill. Curry, in Big East games, averaged 15.2 PPG which ranks 8th in the conference. Hill averages a league-best 18.9 PPG in conference action and is 2nd in the league averaging 9.6 rebounds and his 57.8% shooting percentage ranks 3rd in the Big East. Rugged sophomore forward Geoff McDermott is in the top 5 in both rebounding and assists in league play and sophomore guard Weyinmi Efejuku is among the top 30 scorers in league play with just over 12 PPG. So, the Friars definitely have some productive players.

South Florida has a big man in the middle themselves in Kentrell Gransberry who averages 15 PPG and a league-leading 10.6 rebounds in conference action. His girth against Hill's length and athletic ability will be a match-up to watch. The Friars like to push the tempo, so Gransberry will have to avoid picking up fouls trying to prevent Hill from beating him downt he floor for easy baskets. Gransberry is also aided by the presence of Chris Howard who is finally healhty and leading the Big East in assists (5.83/game) since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of action for his first year and a half as a Bull. Seniors Melvin Buckley (14.1 PPG) and McHugh Mattis (13.6 PPG) also ranks among the top 20 in scoring during Big East games and Mattis adds 7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a contest as well.

Neither team expects to get much from the rest of their line-up, but the Friars are deeper with Brian McKenzie and Jonathan Kale having some good games of late. The Bulls still do not quite seem ready to put things together, but they are deeper than at anytime this season. Unfortunately, they just do not seem to be playing up to their level of talent. That could be because of all the players going in and out of their line-up, but they continue to be out of sync on most nights.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 68 South Florida 62

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: West Virginia @ Providence

February 20, 2007

The Providence Friars are 6-6 in the Big East and still hold faint NCAA hopes. With four games left, the toughest two at home (WVU and Syracuse), the Friars must win all four to have a chance at an NCAA bid, so tonight is a must win for PC, who is 5-1 at home in the conference.

West Virginia is 8-5 in the Big East and still has a shot at a 1st round bye in the Big East Tournament. The Mountaineers have set themselves up for a return to the NCAA Tournament in a season that was largely expected as a rebuilding year. Tonight is a tough challenge for WVU, who is just 2-4 on the road in conference play, and could be viewed as a post-season test.

Here are the pregame stories and previews found on the internet this morning:

Friars Home is a Tough Place to Win (Charleston Gazette)
Mountaineer Men Go To Providence for Tough Test (Register-Herald)
Preview: WVU @ PC (Providence Journal)
A Home Away from Home (Providence Journal)

West Virginia travels to Providence tonight for a Big East match-up. The Mountaineers continue to play for a Big East bye, but have a tough road ahead with the match-up against the Friars and then a trip to Pittsburgh before closing out the conference schedule at home against Cincinnati. The Mountaineers have been a great story this year under John Beilein as they were picked near the bottom of the conference after having to replace graduation losses of Kevin Pittsnogle, Mike Gansey, JD Collins, Joe Herber and Patrick Beilein, five of their top seven players from last year. Frank Young was the lone returning player with significant experience and Darris Nichols was in last year's rotation, and both have stepped up their games. Seldom-used bench players Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff have fit perfectly into the WVU system and Da'sean Butler has proven to be one of the best freshmen in the conference. The Mountaineers still rely heavily on the 3-pt shot and their 1-3-1 zone defense, so they are always in the game, because they can score quickly from behind the arc.

Providence is a very dangerous team. Their point guard, Sharaud Curry, can score in bunches from deep or off the bounce. Their athletic big man, Herbert Hill, has blossomed as a senior as one of the best scoring big men in the nation. Hill should find plenty of room along the baseline and look for Geoff McDermott and Curry to make sure they find their big man in a position to score. McDermott should have a big night rebounding against WVU as rebounding is still an after-thought to the Mountaineers. When the ball is not in Curry's hands, turnovers could be a probelm for PC. Dwain Williams (missed last game) and Brian McKenzie need to be sure with the ball and knock down open shots that become available against the zone.

Providence is favored by 3.5 points and should get the job done at home. They will hit the boards very hard with McDermott, Hill and Jonathan Kale and are able to go smaller and more athletic if need be to counter WVU line-up and not lose much in what they want do as a team. The Mountaineers are certainly capable of bombing away and that gives them a shot in every game they play, but relying on that trait on the road is risky.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 75 West Virginia 70

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Friday, February 16, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: St. John's @ Providence

February 17, 2007

It will be interesting to see what kind of mind frame each team will be in on Saturday. Both teams are making the quick turnaround from playing Thursday night in games that had very different results impacting their season's hopes.

Providence is coming off a loss at Notre Dame that saw the Friars let another opportunity for a meaningful road win slip on by. Providence is 4-1 at home in conference action, so they will look to rebound and continue their home success on Saturday afternoon. At 15-9, they have no room to let another game slip by them in conference play, so a motivated Friar team should be on the floor Saturday.

St. John's looked to have put the final touches on a qualifying record for the Big East Tournament on Thursday night. It almost seemed like a sense of accomplishment has overcome their program. After three straight years of no conference tournament, there is cause for some celebration, especially after a slow start in the conference. St. John's has won five of their last eight, so they have played better of late. However, they are still just 1-5 on the road in conference play.

This is a game Providence should win and, at home, shoudl win easily. Hopefully the sting of losing to Notre Dame and Pittsburgh in tight games in the last week does not take too much out of them. St. John's might just relax a bit, but them and the road has not mixed well at all this season.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 73 St. John's 62

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Notre Dame

February 15, 2007

Notre Dame and Providence are both still in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, Notre Dame has more of a chance than the Friars, but a road win in South Bend could really give the Friars some new life as they head down the stretch. PC gave Pitt a lot of trouble on Saturday, so they will look to build on that tonight.

The Irish are have hit a bit of a speed bump on the road of late, losing their last two games, at South Florida and at DePaul. On the season, the Irish have struggled away from South Bend, going 1-5 on the road in Big East play. At 6-5 in the conference, Notre Dame can not afford to slip up down the stretch, otherwise they will find themselves in a tough situation waiting to find out their fate on Selection Sunday.

Here are links to the pregame previews and stories from around the internet:

Irish Get Back to Basics (South Bend Tribune)
Skid Sends Irish Back to Basics (Journal Gazette)
Irish Still Have Work to do (Post-Tribune)
PC, Irish Still Have Much Work to Do (Providence Journal)

On Saturday, Providence College took Pittsburgh down to the wire, leading by as much as six points in the second half before bowing to the league-leading Panthers, 74-68 in Pittsburgh. The Friars are currently 5-5 in the Big East, but just 1-4 on the road in conference play and 1-6 on the year away from home. They desperately need to find some success away from home to get the attention of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and time is running out.

The Friars are an athletic team, led by point guard Sharaud Curry and center Herbert Hill. This pair should be able to have success against the Irish with their quickness and athleticism. Forward Geoff McDermott will play a key role as the Friars would like to see him get back to putting up near triple-double numbers to help the Friars win. McDermott will also be called on to keep Notre Dame's second leading scorer and top rebounder, Rob Kurz, in checks. This is an intersting match-up and one the Friars will have to gain an advantage with in order to pull out the road win.

Notre Dame has been winning with unselfish play, timely shooting and having different players step up and be successful when called on. It could be Colin Falls hitting seven 3-pt shots or Rob Kurz posting a quality double-double or Luke 'Bam Bam' Harangody scoring with a variety of deceptive post moves. They have also found that freshman Tory Jackson is not easily awed in the Big East environment at the PG position and Zach Hillesland can come off the bench and give the Irish a spark. However the key to the Irish could be Russell Carter. The senior always seems to be going in overdrive which can lead to some forced shots, but when he is on, the Irish become a VERY dangerous team. However, when he is off, Carter has a tendency to let it impact his entire game, from his defense, ball-handling and decision making. The Friars play a style that will allow some freedom for the Irish offense and they could get into quite a groove offensively.

Providence will have to hit the boards tonight. They need to establish Hill in the post and run more of their offense through McDermott, let him create opportunities by going inside and out. Sometimes their offense can tend to stand around and let Curry go to work, but they have excellent pieces for him to work with as well. I think whichever team can bring a commitment to defense tonight will be the winner, both teams can, and will score, but who will get the key stops?

In this one, I look for the home team to have the added defensive intensity, especially coming off two consecutuve road losses. Having a week to reflect and get back on track, look for a nice Irish performance tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Notre Dame 81 Providence 71

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Friday, February 09, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Pittsburgh

February 10, 2007

The Providence Friars, fresh off their great escape over Cincinnati, travel to Pittsburgh for a Saturday evening Big East contest. The Friars are 5-4 in the Big East and are still looking for a road win to that has some meat to it. Their win the previous weekend at Connecticut was nice, but they are still looking to real in a big fish away from Providence.

Pittsburgh could be in a tight spot, they are coming off a road win at rival West Virginia that followed a 9-day layoff. The Panthers have a tough schedule ahead, as of today, the top four teams in the conference are Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Marquette and West Virginia, according to the standings. Pittsburgh has all three of those contenders still ahead on their schedule as they are the only team that plays all three two times in this unbalanced schedule. Georgetown, Marquette and WVU each only faces Pitt twice among the contenders. Pitt also has Louisville on the short turnaround on Monday night. This will be the first of three consecutive Pitt games on ESPN.

Pittsburgh has the homecourt advantage and the edge with depth. Against UC, Providence relied on their starters for 65 of their 71 points. Against West Virginia, Pittsburgh got more than half of their 60 points from their bench. Pittsburgh will man up and play man to man trying to wear down the Friars, whose starters have been logging a lot of minutes. The Friars will look to press and zone Pittsburgh, which is a pretty good strategy as the Panthers sometimes look a little weak with the ball against pressure, but once they break the press, they are prone to pick teams apart with their passing and effecient offense.

The game also features a measuring stick for Herbert Hill, PC's athletic big man, and Aaron Gray. Hill is having an all-conference type season while Gray was the preseason conference player of the year. Will the big body of Gray take Hill out of his game? Hill is the athletic big man that can give Gray trouble, although Gray was ahrdly phased last year torching PC for 39 pts and 18 rebounds on 16-19 shooting in two meetings. Although, Hill did have some success of his own running the floor and scoring 15 pts in the second meeting, although he grabbed just two rebounds.

Pittsburgh at home is just too tough. Even though this is somewhat a sandwich game and Providence really needs a win like this for their NCAA hopes, expect the Panthers' depth to win out.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Pittsburgh 71 Providence 62

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February 9, 2007

VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Jamine Peterson, 6'5 F from Notre Dame Prep and NYC.

After striking out in the early signing period, Tim Welsh and the Providence Friars continued their recent tradition of later preriod recruiting process when they received a verbal commitment from Jamine 'Greedy' Peterson this week. The New England Prep Star Opts for PC (Providence Journal) after taking an official visit to the campus this week and seeing their stirring comeback over Cincinnati, his other favorite.

Projected 2007-2008 Roster

Seniors: Charlie Burch (F)
Juniors: Sharaud Curry (PG), Weyimi Efejuku (G), Geoff McDermott (G/F), Jonathon Kale (PF), Jeff Xavier (G), Randall Hanke (C)
Sophomores: Dwain Williams (G), Brian McKenzie (SG), Jamal Burney (G), Ray Hall (C)
Freshmen: Jamine Peterson (F)

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The Friars and coach Tim Welsh received some very good news this week when Jamine Peterson decided to end him recruitment and pledge to the Big East school. Peterson has been well known in the NYC area for a few years with his high-flying play in the IS8 leagues and in AAU action. 'Greedy', as he is affectionately known as, is known for his rim-attacking style of play. Although just 6'5, he is fearless in attacking the hoop and battling for rebounds, playing much bigger than his listed size. Peterson left NYC for Notre Dame Prep with the hopes of getting noticed by more people, nailing down his academics and earn a scholarship to the Big East: Mission Accomplished.

At Notre Dame Prep this year Peterson is averaging over 14 PPG and 10 rebounds for a powerful prep team led by Michael Beasley. Former PC stars Ryan Gomes and Marcus Douthit also came through Bill Barton's program in Massachussetts. Peterson will have to shore up his ballhandling and extend his range to reach his maximum potential in the Big East, but his athletic ability and relentless style should fit well in a position of need for the Friars.

With their last scholarship available the Friars will continue to scout our frontcourt help, specifically at power forward. Javarris Barnett of Charlotte (N.C.) Victory Christian, and Justin Safford, of Charis (N.C.) Prep are a pair of forwards identified earlier this weekend in the Providence Journal that the Friar staff is tracking. They also had Mehmet Sahan of the Tilton School in New Hampshire in for a visit earlier in the season.

As the late recruiting period rolls on, we will be sure to keep everyone informed of any activity on the Friar recruiting front.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Cincinnati @ Providence

February 6, 2007

Cincinnati hits the road following their home loss to St. John's on Sunday to take on the Providence Friars. PC is coming off a road loss at Marquette on Saturday. The Friars are a healthy (12-point) favorite on their home floor and will look to get back over the .500 mark in the conference.

Here are the pregame stories and previews found on the internet this morning:

Preview: UC @ PC (Providence Journal)
Big East's Bearcats are Down, But Dangerous (Providence Journal)
Gift Dunk Awakens Bearcat Forward (Cincinnati Post)
Davis is Cronin's Wise Counsel

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


Providence definitely needs to get a win tonight. After starting out conference play 2-0, the Friars have lost four of their last six and are in the middle of the muddled Big East pack. With just 8 scholarship players available, the Friars are a thin bunch, but they still have enough depth to match Cincinnati. Providence will have to play tough, but they should still hold the advantage inside and out against the Bearcats.

Cincinnati is still trying hard, but they just can't seem to get things together. They struggle shooting the basketball and do not have the size to consistently battle in the Big East. Things are tough for the Bearcats and expect it to continue to be so through the end of this season.

Both teams will play a lot of zone and extend their zones with full-court pressure. Providence has the edge in ballhandlers as Sharaud Curry and Dwain Williams can play together in the backcourt. Also, Geoff McDermott is a great weapon against the press in passing to Herbert Hill for the finish. The Bearcats can be streaky, but it usually is only enough to keep games interesting.

Not so sure if tonight's game will be interesting...

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 82 Cincinnati 68

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Friday, February 02, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Marquette

February 3, 2007

When Big East play opened for Marquette and Providence many people took notice of the hurting that Providence put on Marquette in their 74-59 win in Rhode Island. On Saturday, Marquette gets the opportunity for revenge with the rematch as Providence travels to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee to take on the Golden Eagles.

Sometimes certain teams can have another's number based on the match-up. This might be the case between Providence and Marquette. The Friars are a zone team and they have a frontline that can be athletic and strong as well as deep. Providence also has a impressive stable of guards that are quick and athletic. We all know where Marquette's strength lies, and that is with their guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews and, like any game, they have the backcourt advantage in this contest.

In their conference opening meeting, Marquette was without McNeal and Providence was without point guard Sharaud Curry. Providence had no match for Herbert Hill inside (23 pts, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks) and Geoff McDermott carved them up inside and out (11 pts, 9 rebounds and 11 assists). Marquette struggled against the PC zone, shooting just 19-61 from the floor and 4-23 from their 3-pt line. The Golden Eagles are going to have to do a much better job this time making shots and slowing down their inside game. Ousmane Barro has shown great improvement since the conference opener and they will need that improvement tonight.

Marquette has been idle since their Sunday afternoon great escape at South Florida. The Golden Eagles have put themselves in excellent position in the Big East race since opening the conference with two losses they have followed that up with six straight wins. Their seventh should come Saturday, but it will be a fight.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 74 Providence 71

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