Providence doesn’t have a very deep bench, and it doesn’t have the talent base to be at less than full strength when it takes on the cream of the Big East. Even nagging injuries have a way of making the Friars struggle against top foes.
The Friars have a lot of versatility in the looks and matchups it can show opponents, but have only eight players to fill those combinations. If any of those guys can’t go, it forces coach Keno Davis to be more conservative and protect his key players from foul trouble or wearing down late in games.
Davis is doing his part by making practices less intense and having players get extra rest as needed. His Friars are right on the edge of NCAA Tournament contention at 16-9, 8-5 in the Big East, and he wants to make sure his team is as healthy as it can be for the final three weeks of the regular season.
Providence’s big challenge against Notre Dame will be stopping Luke Harangody, who is a tough matchup for the underrated Friars’ post players because of his strength and scoring ability. Keno Davis’ crew also will need to watch Kyle McAlarney, who can be almost impossible to stop once he gets hot from the outside.
G Jeff Xavier struggled again offensively last week, scoring just five points in the victories over South Florida and Rutgers. The starting guard is 4 of 13 from the field over that span.
“We’ve really been trying to keep our health at the front of my mind getting ready for each game. … I think we’re in pretty good shape with any long-term injuries, but the short-term ones do pop up.” — Keno Davis, in the Providence Journal.