The Friars will play their 3rd and final game of the World Vision Classic at 2:30 against the Mercer Bears of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Like Providence, Mercer easily took care of Bryant 80-56, and played a tight game in their 89-80 win over Bucknell.
Mercer was picked to finish 3rd in both the Coaches’ and Media preseason polls. With a team heavily comprised of seniors (they have 82% of their scoring from last year), they will definitely be in the hunt for the conference championship.
The team is lead by 6-1 senior guard James Florence, who has been averaging over 19 points game since his freshman year. In Fran Fraschilla’s Mid-Major preview, he listed Florence under “Players and coaches you don’t know but need to find out about”
James Florence, 6-foot-1, Sr., Mercer
The senior from Atlanta has something in common with current NBA players Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. When all three were freshmen three years ago, they each led their conferences in scoring. And while the other two went on to bigger and better things, Florence is on his way to 2,000 points at Mercer. And he has saved some of his best performances for wins over USC, Alabama and Auburn in the past two seasons.
It will be interesting to see what kind of defense Keno throws at Florence — we obviously have a completely different team this season, but these kinds of guys always seem to have their way with us.
Mercer is an offensive team — good at offense and offensive on defense. The Bears like to shoot the three and then crash the glass, often at the expense of their defense, which is consistently among the nation’s worst. They’re not going to foul their opposition — in that way, Mercer is very similar to its opponents on Sunday — or get many steals. Basically, their defense seems to have signed a non-aggression pact on that the other team may or may not decide to live up to. Still, when guys like James Florence and E.J. Kusnyer have their shots falling — and the opposition doesn’t — upsets can and have happened.
Final note: The winner of this game isn’t really the “winner” per say of the World Vision Classic. It’s just a round-robin format, with the two undefeated teams just happening to play each other on the final day.
LINKS FOR THE GAME
As always, I’ll be on Twitter @friarblog