Wednesday, January 09, 2008


January 9, 2008

The Big East's version of a cure for your ails is Rutgers and their visit to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence could not come at a better time for the Friars. After dropping their first two conference match-ups on the road, the offensively challenged Scarlet Knights are a welcome site for PC. Rutgers is also 0-2 in the conference, failing to hit the 50-pt mark in either game.

Here are the local media previes on the game:

PC/RU Preview (Providence Journal)
Rutgers N'Diaye a Formidable Defender (Asbury Park Press)
Providence 'QB' Familiar to Knights (Star-Ledger)
Williams Probable as Friars Chase First League Win (Providence Journal)
Rutgers/PC Scouting Report (Courier News)

The Scarlet Knights sit at the bottom of the Big East in virtually every offensive stat, including points (63.3 per game), field-goal shooting (.396), assists (8.6) and 3-point shooting (.274). Those numbers are actually worse in Big East play as RU is averaging 45.5 PPG, shooting 35% from the floor, 21% from 3-pt range and 29% from the FOUL LINE in two games, losses to Georgetown and at South Florida.

There also has been other factors making things more difficult for Fred Hill's club. First, freshman Corey Chandler has missed several games, and has been limited in Big East play, due to a foot injury. Chandler might be RU's best pure scorer. Also, junior JR Inman, a versatile offensive threat, has been coming off the bench for RU. Reasons for his demotion from the starting line-up have been a bit murky, but there seems to be a little bit of a tug of war going on with the staff and players.

Rutgers still will compete and they will work hard on the defensive end. They hope to keep the game as a low scoring affair and 'ugly' it up by pressuring shots and collecting their share of rebounds.

Scoring is not usually the problem for the Friars, but stopping their opponent has been a missing ingredient for PC the last several years and despite an added concentration to defensive effort this year, it continues. However, the injury bug that has spread through a lot of the conference has also hit PC hard, taking their top two point guards out of the line-up as Sharaud Curry and Dwain Williams have been out of the line-up. Curry is still not even ready to practice, but the news on Williams is better and he is likely to play tonight.

With Williams an adequate point guard, players like Brian McKenzie, Jeff Xavier and Weyinmi Efejuku can concentrate on scoring points, not also playing the role of distributor. The Friars also boast hard-nosed and versatile Geoff McDermott and a true point guard will look to take advantage of his talents and also involve Randall Hanke more in the offense, putting him in position to score.

Inconsistent guard play also leads to defensive breakdowns as the opponent is finding more break and transition opportunities. Defensively and in the post is always going to be an uphill battle for PC, but the defensive effrt is something that most likely will improve as the team gets closer to full strength and cohesive.

The Friars come into the game tonight as a 14-pt favorite and they should take advanatage of the opportunity Rutgers provides to get well.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 75 Rutgers 58



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