Wednesday, February 25, 2009


February 25, 2009

It was a big night in Providence Tuesday as the Friars Shock No. 1 Pittsburgh (Pawtucket Times), 81-73, and but themselves in serious position to claim an NCAA Tournament bid.

Things looked bleak for the Friars and their chances for an invite to the Big Dance following a Saturday afternoon 103-84 home loss to Notre Dame. However, in front of 11,887 fans who turned out for 'Senior Night' to honor the Friar seniors Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale, Weyinmi Efejuku, Jeff Xavier and Randall Hanke, Pittsburgh never seemed to be into it mentally as the Dismal Panthers Were Held Down by Turnovers (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) and mental lapses defensively right from the beginning, falling behind 15-4 early on. After battling back to within 29-25 on a DeJuan Blair jump-hoop, Providence finished the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 44-26 halftime lead and stretched it to 20, 46-26, in the opening minute of the second half.

With all the pregame talk centered around Pitt sophomore center Blair, PC seniors Kale and Hanke Turn the Tables on the Powerhouse Blair (Providence Journal), especially during the dominant first half. Kale (13 points) and Hanke (10) combined for 23 points and 7 rebounds in 42 minutes of action between the two of them. Blair led Pitt with 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, but committed five turnovers and fouled out in the final moments of the game.

Pitt closed the gap to 75-70 in the late stages of the game, but it was too little too late as Some One-upmanship of the Friars (Providence Journal) turned the tables on the Panthers. Pitt game into the game with the nation's second-best assist to turnover ratio, but PC forced 18 Panther turnovers to just 12 team assists while PC was credited with 18 assists against just 9 turnovers. The Friars also chewed up the Pitt defense for 43 points in the paint, a stat usually reversed when Pittsburgh meets Providence.

Senior Weyinmi Efejuku had a team-high 16 points for PC while junior Sharaud Curry added 15. Another senior, Geoff McDermott, added 11 points and 6 assists in the game.

The win moved the Friars to 9-7 in the Big East and they finish up with road games against Rutgers and Villanova prior to the 2009 Big East Tournament in New York City.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


February 24, 2009

Pittsburgh has reclaimed the No. 1 ranking atop both the AP and Coaches Polls and will but that ranking on the line with a couple of road games this week, beginning with a trip to Providence to take on the Friars.

Pitt's wins at Connecticut and at home against DePaul, along with Saturday losses by North Carolina and Oklahoma pushed Pitt back to the top spot, for the second time this season. Pitt got a pair of monster performances from sophomore DeJuan Blair who tortured UConn for 22 points and 23 rebounds and then produced a double-double just 8 minutes into the game against DePaul before finishing with 20 points and 18 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Providence suffered a devastating home loss, 103-84, this weekend against Notre Dame at home. The loss followed a 94-76 defeat at Louisville, a game where the Friars led by a point at the half.

PC is now 8-7 in the big East and is still missing a marquee win, something they were hoping for in this three-game stretch, now their backs are against the wall, but opportunity knocks, as a marquee win does not get any bigger when facing the No. 1 team in the country.

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

Pitt No. 1 Again in Both Polls (Post-Gazette)
Biggs a Key Component to Pitt's Run to No. 1 (Tribune-Review)
PC vs. Pitt: Friars Set to Face New No. 1 (Providence Journal)
Capsule Preview - Pittsburgh @ Providence (Providence Journal)
Wild Ones for Pitt (Beaver County Times)
Panthers Young can't Stay out of Gym (Tribune-Review)

Pittsburgh's style of physical defense and hard-nosed rebounding has always made life very difficult for Providence when the two two have met in recent seasons. Even with a new coach, the Friars are still playing catch-up to the rest of the Big East when it comes to the physical play of the conference.

With DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and co., the Friars will see more of the same from Pitt. The Panthers, led by Blair, are nearly impossible to keep off the boards and they lead the nation, easily, in offensive rebounding percentage. PC will have their hands full limiting second-chance opportunities and will likely lead to many open shots for the Panthers.

One way to hopefully have a chance against Pitt is to get Blair in foul trouble. At times he can pick up a ticky-tack foul away from the basket reaching on the high-ball screen. It looks like Pitt has relaxed some of his hedge responsibilities to eliminate this possibility, but sometimes the nimble Blar thinks he is quicker than he really is and he can pick up a foul against a guard.

The Friars other method of attack will be to launch from the three-point arc early and often. You will likely see Jeff Xavier, Sharaud Curry, Weyinmi Efejuku, Brian McKenzie and Marshon Brooks all launching from the perimeter, hoping to catch lightning in the bottle by the way of the three-point shot and getting their crowd into it.

Of course, that philosophy is also a dangerous one against a strong defensive team like the Panthers. If your not on, Pitt will rebound and, as the country's most efficient offensive team, make you pay by scoring points on the other end.

While the Friars are a dangerous team and the target of a No. 1 team usually steps up one's play, this Pitt team is really looking like they are clicking. Now that they have some previous experience as the No. 1 team, they will look to take care of business on the road. Pitt is an 8 1/2-point favorite, which seems a tad low (almost makes you wonder if there is an expectation of foul trouble by someone). Pitt's rebounding and efficient offense will make life tough on PC, as it has time and time again before.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 81
Providence 71


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Saturday, February 21, 2009


February 21, 2009

It is crunch time for Big East teams as we have just three weekends left of regular season action. Saturday is a day full of NCAA Tournament bubble implications and the Big East starts it off with Notre Dame and Providence meeting in Rhode Island.

The Irish are 5-8 in the Big East and 14-11 overall. They are coming off a disappointing road loss to West Virginia where they wasted a quick start that saw them get out to an early 10-point lead and eventually lose 79-68. Once again, their defense let them down as it was too easy for the Mountaineers to erase the deficit and pull away in the second half.

Almost any way you look at it, Notre Dame MUST have this game. A lose would make them 5-9 and they still have to play at UConn and host Villanova, meaning they would have to sweep their final four games to reach .500 in Big East play, the number Rick Pitino thinks a team MUST have to be considered for the NCAA Tournament.

“If you don’t have a winning record in your conference, you’re not getting an NCAA berth,” said the Louisville coach in this week’s Big East coaches conference call.

Providence is 8-6 in the Big East, but just 16-10 overall as they failed to win any of their meaningful out of conference games, aside from in-state rival Rhode Island. They have a road game with Rutgers left, but Pittsburgh and Villanova also are on the schedule. Winning a marquee game is probably a must, but dropping this one is likely fatal to their NCAA chances.

Providence failed to earn such a marquee win in their last outing, a 94-76 loss at Louisville. The Friars led the game 46-45 at the half, but the Cards went on an early run in the second half to gain full control of the contest.

Both teams prefer a similar style of game, wide open with plenty of shooting opportunities. A free flowing game is not very common in the Big East, but it should be here. However, whoever will dedicate themselves on the defensive end of the floor could come up with the advantage. Mike Brey believes his team is ready to finish strong.

“Every league game now, there’s a lot riding on it [especially] when you’re in the position we’re in,” Brey said this week. “There’s no question about it. It’s not lost on us.”

While there is no magic mark for a conference record in order to make the NCAA Tournament, the Irish coach knows that, at a minimum, a .500 record will put you in the conversation on selection Sunday.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that a .500 record in the Big East this year is a very respectable record,” said Brey. “I think 9-9 is pretty good in our league this year.”

With Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney on the side of the Irish, they are likely to have the two best players in the game. However, finding complimentary players to step up and play with toughness, both mentally and physically, is the key to the Irish. Too often this season, that has not been the case and Harangody and McAlarney are seemingly on their own to decide the Irish fate. In the Big East, that is not going to win many games.

The Friars have a deeper team of contributors and are a very experienced group. Seniors Weyinmi Efejuku, Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale and Jeff Xavier all start, along with redshirt junior Sharaud Curry, and senior Randall Hanke is first off the bench. That experience has helped PC to a record of 8-6 in the conference to this point.

The Friars can usually count on contributions from all their veterans. Sophomore Marshon Brooks has been a big contributor off the bench. That consistent production from multiple positions and players is something the Irish do not receive. While Harangody will get his points and rebounds, that has not been enough to carry the Irish. Ryan Ayers seems to disappear too often and Tory Jackson is not enough of a scorer to add to an attack that seems to have to score more to be effective.

At this point in time, it just seems that Providence is the better team. While the Irish showed in their win over Louisville, they can still look pretty good, this is coming on the road and they have only managed to beat DePaul away from home in conference play. They have lost at St. John’s and Cincinnati among others.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 81
Notre Dame 76

Notre Dame Knows Stakes vs. Providence (Chicago Tribune)
Expect a Shootout at the Dunk: Neither PC nor Notre Dame Can Defend (Providence Journal)


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Thursday, February 19, 2009


February 19, 2009

VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Russ Permenter, 6-foot-9 PF from Temple (TX) College

Keno Davis continues to re-shape the future Providence basketball roster as Russ Permenter Commits to Providence (Providence Journal) following a weekend visit to the school for their game with Rutgers.

Projected 2009-2010 Roster

Seniors: Sharaud Curry (PG), Brian McKenzie (SG)
Juniors: Jamine Peterson* (F), Marshon Brooks (G), Alex Kellogg (F), Kyle Wright (G/F), Russ Permenter (PF)
Sophomres: Bilal Dixon** (F)
Freshmen: Duke Mondy (G), Kadeem Batts (PF), James Still (C), Johhnie Lacy (PG), Vincent Council (PG)

* Expected to redshirt the 2008-2009 season which would place him as a sophomore on the 2009-2010 roster

** possible 2008-2009 redshirt which would place his as a freshman on the 2009-2010 roster

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The Providence Friar recruiting class is now seven deep with the latest addition of 6'9, 235-pound forward Russ Permenter of Temple (TX) College. Permenter is a product of Temple (TX) High School and spent his freshman season at the University of Texas-San Antonio before coming back home for his sophomore season. At Temple College, Permenter was leading the Leopards with 18.9 points a game and also 8.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

A preseason hand injury limited Permenter's freshman season at UTSA to just 14 games, averaging just over 3 points a contest. At one time, Permenter was committed to TCU, but reopened his recruitment and chose UTSA.

Back Home in Temple, Permenter Hoped a Big Season Created a Second Division 1-A Shot (Temple Daily Telegraph) and it worked well as he is headed to the Big East. Permenter also had interest from Pepperdine, Santa Clara, South Alabama, Idaho, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Gardner-Webb while Penn State had begun to call as well.

So while Davis Adds yet Another Recruit in the 6'9 Permenter (Providence Journal), making seven in the class, things look to be finally completed in the PC class of 2009 with five incoming frosh and two JUCO transfers.

One of the quickest ways a new coach can resurrect the program he inherits and increase the of success is finding the perfect point guard to run his system. Keno Davis believes he has succeeded in such a quest by adding two candidates now in the 2009 class to fill that role. Back in early January, the first year PC head coach received a verbal commitment from Brooklyn native Vincent Council and, along with the last minute signing of Johnnie Lacy in the early signing period, the Friars should have their backcourt of the future.

Council has been gaining more and more recruiting interest as a prep student at the Patterson School in North Carolina. Playing for coach Chris Chaney at the high profile school, Council picked up serious recruiting interest from Rutgers, UCF and Arkansas.

Council is a tough point guard with good size for the Big East in the typical NYC point guard mold. Council previously attended Lincoln HS in NYC where he was a tammate of Lance Stephenson, among others, on a very highly successful team.

The addition of Lacy and Council had made it pretty clear that Antoine Allen, who was verbally committed to the Friars through the summer, is not part of the Future plans for PC. As the signing period passed, it was noted by Allen's prep coach at Notre Dame Prep that he had academic work to accomplish before he could think about signing a commitment with a school. Allen then left Notre Dame Prep and in recent weeks, he has de-committed (publicly) and is now committed to Miami.

Lacy, a native of Milwaukee (WI) is a jet-quick point guard that is finishing up his prep career at, incidentally, Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg (MA). In the uptempo attack that Davis hopes to install with the Friars, having a point guard with the jets that Lacy possesses is a must. Lacy will be asked to push the ball and find the shooters on the wing that Davis will hope to have lined up for him, similar to the attack he used at Drake last season. Over the summer, Lacy played very well for the Playground Elite AAU team and had been hearing from schools such as Tennessee, Marquette, Minnesota, Purdue and Cincinnati during the recruiting process.

Council and Lacy offer a different skill set and compliment each other in their style, so they could play together in the future backcourt.

The recruiting action around the Providence Friar program happened fast and furious this past fall as Keno Davis locked up four other commitments for the class of 2009. Prior to Lacy and Council, Detroit big man James Still was the latest addition to the program. Still is a 6-foot-10 center from Community High School in Detroit and averaged over 14 points and 12 rebounds as a junior. Still visited PC back in September and chose the Friars over Duquesne and Detroit. Still is an athletic big man that is very comfortable running the floor and stepping away from the basket.

Still needs to get stronger to battle in the paint in Big East match-ups. He has a lot of potential because of a high skill level and the ability to move well at 6'10. His best days are certainly ahead of him on the basketball court.

Just prior to Still, Monroe College wing Kyle Wright, who originally began his career at Stony Brook and spent last year as a redshirt with Colorado, committed to PC. Wright previously prepped at Brewster Academy where he played for coach Jason Smith at the New England prep power.

After Brewster, Wright spent one season at Stony Brook where he averaged just under three points a game, appearing in 23 contests and averaging nearly 11 minutes a game. Wright is a skilled backcourt player that has versatility and can shoot it from long range, a skill that fits well in Keno Davis' preferred system. for more on Wright, see the story on the Newest Friar: Kyle Wright.

Earlier this fall PC got a little bigger by receiving a verbal commitment from Kadeem Batts out of Powder Springs (GA) while he was on an official visit to the school. In the July evaluation period, Batts turned heads playing for the Smyrna Stars and had several high-major schools checking him out. The NBE Basketball Report was impressed with Batts' play this summer on Wednesday at the Reebok All-American Camp where he showed the tools necessary to compete in the Big East. Batts is athletic and with a strong body can mix it up inside on the boards and defensively he can block and alter shots. He also showed his offensive game is coming around as well, too.

The commitment from Batts came just a week after another commitment from a campus visit came from Michigan native Duke Mondy. Mondy is a 6-foot-3 guard out of Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids (MI). As a junior, Mondy averaged about 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for coach TJ Carnegie at Catholic Central and his Coach Had Nothing but Praise for Mondy on and off the court.

Mondy had already been familiar with coach Davis prior to him taking the PC head coaching job last April as Davis was recruiting Mondy to Drake, where he was previously the head coach. Mondy decided on Providence over Western Michigan and also had offers from Ohio, Toledo, Central Michigan and others.

The Friars are also keeping a watchful eye on the class of 2010 as interest has been evident in players such as NYC's David Coley, BF Carson Desrosiers of Lawrence (MA), Evan Smotrycz of the New Hampton School, Tilton School guard Gerard Coleman and small forward Shaquille Thomas, now at Mountain State Academy.

The current PC staff, led by hard-working assistant Pat Skerry, have been working the New England prep schools really hard and recently welcomed Coleman, Smotrycz, class of 2011 guard Naadir Tharpe of Brewster Academy and highly regarded 2012 recruit Nerlins Noel of Everett (MA) High School who already stands 6'8, to campus when PC played DePaul in a Big East conference match-up.

Desrosiers and Coleman seem to be getting the most attention from PC in the class of 2010, according to a recent Providence Journal article. Desrosiers was expected to visit recently as well, but was ill.

With many positions open to fill, we expect the PC recruiting news to be plentiful this fall as Keno Davis looks to make his mark on the Providence program and Big East recruiting battles. We will follow these stories closely as they begin to develop.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


February 18, 2009

One had to feel for DePaul over the weekend. Possibly the worst Big East team in recent memory was on the road facing a very angry Rick Pitino coached team and it was no contest as Louisville got well against the Blue Demons in a 99-54 drubbing in Freedom Hall. Louisville looks to remain in the 4-way deadlock of teams with two Big East losses when the Providence Friars come to Freedom Hall.

The Friars are an interesting dilemma for the NCAA Tournament committee. As of today, PC has an 8-5 Big East record. PC has two wins over Cincinnati and a victory over Syracuse, other than that, their best victory is over Rhode Island and they dropped every non-conference game of significance as well as their opener with Northeastern. In their last five games, PC has the Cards, as well as Notre Dame, Pitt and Villanova on the schedule. Assuming a win against Rutgers, PC would definitely have to win at least one of the four games against quality teams on the schedule for a chance at a tournament bid.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on tonight's game:

Pitino: Cards are Showing Purpose (Courier-Journal)
Crunch Time in Big East Has Arrived for Friars (Providence Journal)
PC at Louisville (Providence Journal)
Delk Out, Williams In When Cards Meet Providence (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Providence is a pretty good match-up for the Cards. PC is not a strong defensive team and they prefer a higher pace of a game. This should allow Louisville to score points and when they score, they can set-up their fullcourt pressure. Also, pressure is something that PC is susceptible to as they do tend to turn the ball over in bunches.

The Friars will rely on the three-point shooting ability of point guard Sharaud Curry and guards Jeff Xaiver and Brian McKenzie as well as the slashing skills of Weyinmi Efejuku and Marshon Brooks for much of their offensive output. Louisville's defense is designed to stop this kind of attack and matches up well.

On offense, the Cards should look to go inside to Samardo Samuels and use the inside/out abilities of Earl Clark. If Terrence Williams' wrist is close to 100% and he is an offensive threat, Louisville should cruise to victory as a 13 1/2-point favorite in this contest.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Louisville 82
Providence 67


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Saturday, February 14, 2009


February 14, 2009

On Saturday evening, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights head to Providence to take on Keno Davis’ Friars. Rutgers has been off since last Sunday’s home loss to rival Seton Hall. RU is now just 1-10 in Big East play this season. Providence snapped a three-game losing streak with a 77-62 win at South Florida, pushing their Big East record to 7-5.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on the game:

PC Can’t Afford to Slip Against Downtrodden Rutgers (Providence Journal)
Capsule Preview: Rutgers @ PC (Providence Journal)
PC’s Postseason Hopes May Hinge on Strong Regular Season Finish (Providence Journal)

Well, it is year #3 of the Fred Hill era and, despite the addition of McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario and highly touted 6-foot-9 Greg Echenique, things are not looking much different than year’s #1 and #2. In fact, this season has a real chance at being the worst yet, a very disappointing, but very real, possibility.

In Big East play under Hill, the Scarlet Knights are a pathetic 6-41, good for a .128 winning percentage. Once again, it is an anemic offense that is the root of their struggles. In Big East play, Rutgers manages just 0.948 points per possession. That would be an offense that ranked 266th in the NCAA and be the worst among all major conference teams. While Providence is certainly not going to win any defensive awards, the RU offense is more of a tonic for the PC defense than the PC defense for the RU offense.

On their home floor, PC can definitely score some points and they have plenty of scoring options, while Saturday’s opponent seems to rely solely on Mike Rosario to shoot them into games. On the road, this is probably not a good game plan to follow.

As for the Friars, like the South Florida game, PC needs to avoid any possibility of slipping up in this game to remain in the top half of the conference and to keep their slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive. With their best non-conference win coming against the A-10’s Rhode Island, the importance of finishing up strong in the Big East is not lost on Keno Davis.

“I think finishing in the top half is very important because if you don’t finish in the top half, you have to have a very good RPI or a very good non-conference coming in,” Davis said in the Big East coaches conference call this week. “Not many people have picked Providence to be one of the top division teams and right now we are. That’s a nice spot to be in and we control our own destiny if we’re going to be in the top half of this league.”

Winning on Saturday is another step in securing that possibility and give them 8 league wins. With Louisville, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, before finishing with a rematch against Rutgers and then a conference finale with Villanova ahead on the schedule, this is a most-win game for the Friars.

While Rutgers will likely scrap and try to get physical, the Friars will have too much offense and the offensive struggles of the Scarlet Knights are likely to prevent them from keeping up in this one.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 78
Rutgers 63


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


February 11, 2009

The first player to commit to Keno Davis in his 2009 class at Providence is no longer committed to the Friars. It was not a very well-kept secret that Antoine Allen and PC had parted ways, but it is official now as the Recruit from Jack McClinton's AAU Team Picks Miami (Miami Herald).

Allen, a product of Baltimore's Cecil Kirk AAU program, had committed to PC late this summer as he was preparing for a prep season at Notre Dame Prep. However, due to some academic concerns, Allen never signed a letter of intent with the Friars and then he left ND Prep. Apparently he is now attending Mississippi Elite Christian Academy and will be part of the Miami Hurricanes' recruiting class.

PC filled his spot already when they received a verbal commitment from Patterson (NC) School guard Vincent Council.


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February 11, 2009

South Florida had hoped to build some momentum after their stunning 57-56 upset over Marquette last Friday night when they welcomed Providence into the Sun Dome Tuesday night for a Big East conference match-up. Instead, USF Crashes to Earn, Falls to Providence (Tampa Tribune) 77-62.

The Bulls Momentum Disappears Quickly Yet Again (Tampa Tribune) as USF fails to win back-to-back Big East games for the first time in their 61-game history of Big East play. The Bulls' lack of depth, PC's bench outscored USF's 35-6, lack of inside muscle, guard Dominique Jones was the USF leading rebounder with 8 and lack of overall shot-making ability, the Bulls were 5-16 from the foul-line and 3-19 from three-point range, all came front and center as USF Deflates in Home Loss to Providence (St. Pete Times).

The Friars snap a three-game losing streak as Providence Romps at South Florida (Providence Journal) behind the strength of their 51% shooting from the field. After USF cut the lead to 62-57 with 4:15 to go, a 13-2 run by PC put the game out of reach.

Jonathan Kale had a team-high 15 points along with 9 rebounds for PC and Randall Hanke and Marshon Brooks each scored 14 off the bench. Sharaud Curry added 11 points and in doing so, Curry Becomes the Fifth Current Friar to Join 1,000-Point Club (Providence Journal) and 42nd in the program's history.

Providence, 7-5 in the Big East, hosts Rutgers this weekend looking to make it two straight wins before a trip to Louisville next Wednsesday.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


February 10, 2009

After knocking off Marquette on Friday night, South Florida will look to make it two in a row and win a school-best fourth Big East conference game in a season when they host Providence in the Sun Dome on Tuesday night. The Bulls are 3-7 in the Big East, besides the upset of the Golden Eagles, USF has two wins over hapless DePaul in league play.

Providence has lost three straight games, falling to 6-5 in the Big East. The three consecutive losses followed a streak of three wins that had Friar fans thinking NCAA Tournament just a bit. Now, they need to right the ship quickly as a tough stretch of games will close out their Big East schedule. PC is coming off an 86-59 drubbing at West Virginia.

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

Bulls Eager to Take Next Step (Tampa Tribune)
Providence Probably Biggest Game of the Season (Tampa Tribune)
Friars have No Time for Sun at South Florida (Providence Journal)
PC Needs to Shake Slump (Providence-Journal)
Capsule Preview: PC at South Florida (Providence Journal)

This is a tough one to predict. The Friars looked absolutely horrendous at West Virginia this past weekend and in their last five games they have allowed over 92 points a game. While their offense continues to score at an impressive clip, winning on the road requires defense and rebounding, they will need to have that tonight if they are to run with the Bulls and escape alive.

The Bulls got a great lift from their win over Marquette on Friday, surviving a 57-56 slugfest as both teams had trouble scoring points. While they will find scoring a little easier against PC, the Bulls still have trouble as a team scoring the basketball. USF is led by Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo on the wings and they will put pressure on their Providence counterparts to work on defense. Keno Davis has the personnel to match-up with the Bulls’ strengths, they just need to dedicate themselves to getting it done on defense in order to win on the road in the Big East.

I like how the Friars match-up with the Bulls. They have some height inside, which might be knocked at times for playing soft (Randall Hanke), but USF is not going to overpower anyone in the Big East in the paint. Frosh Gus Gilchrist likes to take his game away from the basket and PC’s Geoff McDermott is more than comfortable in following him out there and strong and athletic enough to still battle inside.

The oddsmakers list this one as a pick-em, while PC certainly has their share of flaws, they will get the job done with a more intense defensive effort and the ability to score will serve them well in getting past USF on the road tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 74
South Florida 66


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Saturday, February 07, 2009


February 7, 2009

It looks like the Alex Ruoff shooting slump might be over as the West Virginia senior guard scored a game-high 24 points as the Mountaineers rout Providence, 86-59, in Big East action on Saturday afternoon.

Ruoff connected on six of seven three's and Da'Sean Butler Did it for Mountaineers and WVU Does in PC (Providence Journal) in thwarting a Friars' rally midway through the second half. Butler finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, but his key moments in the second half made PC clear that it was not going to be their day.

The Friars were just 3-18 from three-point range, all three makes by Jeff Xavier who had a team high 15 points. PC senior Randall Hane Joins 1,000-point Club (Providence Journal) with a bucket to tie the game at 4-4 early on. It was Hanke's only two points of the day. He had two on the day and now has 1,001 in his career.

WVU evened their record at 5-5 in the Big East while PC is now 6-5, losing three straight and giving up over 91 points a game in the losing streak.


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February 7, 2009

The Providence Friars, losers of two straight, travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia, losers of three of their last four, in a Big East conference showdown on Saturday afternoon.

The Friars, despite a 6-4 record in Big East play, are off the NCAA Tournament picture right now, so finding quality wins is a must. Finding one on the road would be a huge lift in their chances.

West Virginia, at 4-5 in the conference, is very much in the NCAA Tournament picture, but they need to be careful not to slip up down the stretch. Besides a game at Pitt on Monday night, WVU’s biggest challenges closing the regular season schedule are at home and the schedule eases significantly, but that means nothing if you do not get the job done in games you are supposed to win.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on today’s game:

Mountaineers Hope to Avert Third Straight Defeat (Register-Herald)
Getting in Big East’s Top Eight is WVU’s Goal (Daily Mail)
Huggins Spread Defense Ineffective (Daily Mail)
WVU Settles in Behind Big East Elite (Charleston Gazette)
Experience Comes to Town (wvmetronews.com)
For PC, Staying Fresh is a Challenge During Season’s Dog Days (Providence Journal)
Capsule Preview: PC @ West Virginia (Providence Journal)

The Mountaineers will look for a much better effort in this contest than what they showed against Syracuse on Wednesday night. With an energized home crowd and Bob Huggins expecting more from his team, look for WVU to have a full effort, especially defensively and on the boards.

Providence really needs to add some quality wins and any wins on the road against solid teams are a must as well. This will be a tough match-up for PC, however, as the athletic ability and toughness of the Mountaineers are likely to come to the forefront this afternoon.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

West Virginia 78
Providence 65


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Thursday, February 05, 2009


February 5, 2009

This one was not looking like it was going to come down to the wire, but Villanova Escapes Providence With a Win (Philadelphia Daily News) after PC's Furious Rally Falls Just Short Against Villanova (Providence Journal), 94-91.

Villanova seemed in control of this one throughout, leading 49-34 at the half and stretched it to as much as 20 in the second half before Providence began to rally. The Friars cut the lead to just a point, 92-91, on a Weyinmi Efejuku three-pointer with two second left. However, the Wildcats were able to get the ball into the hands of Scottie Reynolds who sunk two free throws and PC did not get off a final shot before the buzzer.

The Cats Hang on to Post a Victory Over Providence (Philadelphia Inquirer) with the junior Reynolds scoring 31, making 13 of 15 from the foul line. Senior Dwayne Anderson added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Dante Cunningham and Reggie Redding each provided 12 points and 11 rebounds as 'Nova won the battle of the boards, 50-38.

This is one that will hurt PC, a team in need of resume building wins if they are going to make a case for the NCAA Tournament. Home Wasn't Sweet for the Friars on this Night (Providence Journal) and protecting your home court is rule #1 in building your NCAA resume.

Sharaud Curry and Weyinmi Efejuku spear-headed the late rally with three's and attacking the basket. Curry finished with 25 and Efejuku scored 21 of his 23 in the second half. Jeff Xavier scored 22.

The Friars have allowed 94 points defensively in each of their last three games, losing two. In the game before that, SHU scored 93 in the PC overtime victory (98-93).

PC now hits the road for dates at West Virginia and South Florida in hopes of improving their 6-4 conference record.


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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


February 4, 2009

Providence College will host the Villanova Wildcats in a Big East conference match-up tonight at the Dunkin Donuts Center. This game will be a moment of truth of sorts for the Friars, who stand at 6-3 in conference play, but are coming off a 94-61 pummelling at the hands of UConn over the weekend.

The Wildcats have won three in a row, including a victory over Pitt last Wednesday in the finale of the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Villanova is now 5-3 in the Big East and looking to put some seperation between themselves and the crowded middle of the pack, and this pushing the Friars closer to conference mediocrity.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the internet:

'V' is for a Villanova Team that is Very Tough to Beat (Philadelphia Daily News)
Villanova is PC's Next Big East Challenge (Providence Journal)
Capsule Preview: Villanova at Providence College (Providence Journal)

Before their home win over a crippled Syracuse squad last week, the best win registered by the Friars game against in-state rival Rhode Island from the Atlantic 10. Their best Big East win was their road victory over Cincinnati, a team that 'Nova decimated themselves this past Sunday.

The Friars desperately want to be included in the NCAA Tournament talk and their 6-3 Big East record might have some talking in that manner. However, their lack of out of conference quality wins will force games like this one to be a must-win.

The Wildcats are playing well, especially on the defensive end, and Corey Fisher is becoming a more consistent weapon on both ends of the court. The 'Nova defense will pressure the PC guards, who can be shaky with the ball and their decision making is not always the best. This strategy is usully used for Villanova to cover their lack of strength in the paint, but led by Dante Cunningham and Antonio Pena, Villanvoa matches up favorable with the Friar frontcourt.

The college basketball betting odds have 'Nova listed as a 3 1/2-point favorite on the road. They are the better team and their match-up should allow them to get the job done in this contest.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Villanova 75
Providence 68


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