The young Providence Friars face a really good test tonight against a solid team in Morgan State. It’s the opening game for PC in the Cancun Challenge, but it will be played in slightly colder weather in Downtown Providence. The Friars will host another game on Saturday night against Prairie View A&M before jetting off to Cancun for two games early next week. NOTE: The two US games do not affect who plays next Wednesday for the final day of the challenge. The winner of the Providence / LaSalle game on Tuesday will play the winner of Missouri / Wyoming, and the losers will also play each other.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM
Opponent: Morgan State (Mid-Eastern Conference)
Location: The DUNK
ESPN AccuScore Game Projection: PC 79.6, Morgan State 66.5 (PC wins in 85.3% of 10,000 simulations)
CBS Daily Scores Projection: PC 85, Morgan State 79
Ken Pomeroy Projection: PC 85, Morgan State 68 (PC wins with 93% confidence)
Continue the preview after the jump!
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
- Fast paced: Last year the Bears played to a very fast 70 possession adjusted pace, and we know how the Friars like to play. In their only game this season, Morgan State played to 80 possessions. This isn’t going to be an Ivy League type offense.
- 6″9′ Junior Kevin Thompson: Voted the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year, Kevin Thompson is a rebounding machine. Last year as a sophomore, he was 4th in the nation with 11.8 RPG. Nobody pulled down more offensive rebounds in the entire country (he had 44 more than Greedy!), and he also had the 5th best offensive rebounding percentage. It’s safe to say Bilal Dixon, Kadeem Batts, and Ron Giplaye will have their hands full trying to keep this monster off the glass. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ray Hall logged more minutes than usual.
- Turnovers: Through 2 games, a glaring problem has been the Friars carelessness with the ball. They have turned it over in slightly more than a quarter of their possessions, and it all starts with floor general Council. I know it’s a ridiculously small sample size against weaker competition, but Vincent Council is headed in the right direction on pretty much all of his numbers so far – minutes, points, possessions, eFG%, FT%, and even rebounds. However, more possessions have brought on a bump in turnovers (24.2% TO%).
- Lapses on the Perimeter: If the Friars are going to take a break on defense for a few minutes like they did against Yale, sophomore DeWayne Jackson could make them pay. Jackson hit 7 of 11 three-pointers in Morgan State’s only game this year (a win versus Loyola Marymount).
- The Rotation: Keno tightened the rotation in the close game against Yale. Kadeem Batts only logged 10 minutes, while Ron Giplaye and Ray Hall didn’t even make it off the pine. Against a big Morgan State lineup, they will be needed tonight and need to step up.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Morgan State opens its season playing back-to-back games on opposite coasts, as it began the 2010-11 season at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, Calif., defeating the Lions, 81-79. Sophomore forward DeWayne Jackson was 7-of-11 from the three-point line and scored 31 points, while junior forward Kevin Thompson added 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Bears were an NCAA Tournament team last season, as they won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament for the second-straight year.
To the surprise of no one in coaching, Bozeman is winning big again. In four years at Morgan, he’s guided his teams to one NIT and the last two NCAA Tournaments. His Bears are packed with kids from the D.C.-Baltimore corridor and are regarded as one of the more dangerous mid-major teams in the country.
Projo.com: Capsule Preview: Morgan State at PC
The Bears come to town after registering an impressive 81-79 win at Loyola-Marymount last Friday. Team erased a 15-point second-half deficit to win.
Friar Basketball: A Closer Look at Morgan State
The Friars haven’t been challenged on the backboard in either game against the Ivies, but that will all change Thursday when Kevin Thompson comes to town.
As a sophomore the physical Thompson was fourth in the nation in rebounds per game at 11.9 and third in the country in double doubles with 22. He had the highest single game rebounding total of any player in the country when he ripped down 25 boards against Towson.
Thompson is the conference’s best player. Ron Giplaye, you won’t be sitting out this one.
Meanwhile, some gaping holes exist in the rotation. Reggie Holmes, who set the program’s single-season scoring record (796 points, 21.5 ppg), must be replaced. The Bears also lost their two point guards from last season’s team; Danny Smith is still in school but left the team, and Sean Thomas is off the squad. Joe Davis also is no longer part of the program, and Troy Smith — Morgan’s top on-ball defender — exhausted his eligibility.
“What we like to think is that we built a program and not a team,” Bozeman said. “When you have a program, you’re able to sustain graduations, players leaving or what have you.”
MEAC: Morgan State
Todd Bozeman was a pariah a little more than a decade ago after a head-coaching stint with Cal turned into an NCAA nightmare for the young, ambitious coach. It has been a long road back, but four years ago the Bears decided to give him another chance, and it has paid off for both parties. Bozeman is 95-51 at Morgan State, and its RPI has risen from 329 to 102. The Bears have won back-to-back MEAC tournament titles and now will go for a conference-record three in a row. Bozeman has once again put together a roster that is simply superior to every other in the MEAC, even with the loss of do-it-all scorer Reggie Holmes. If you want size, try six players over 6-6 on for size, including preseason conference player of the year Kevin Thompson, who averaged a double-double last season (12.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg). If you want size and skill, how about 6-8 Dewayne Jackson?
WHAT TO: WATCH
In 1996 Todd Bozeman was forced to resign from the head coaching job at Cal after admitting he paid the parents of a player. In his career revival after 10 years away, he led Morgan State to their first conference title on the Division I level.
After winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament for the second straight year, Morgan State enters the NCAA tournament as a No. 15 seed against sixth-ranked West Virginia. In four years at Morgan, Todd Bozeman has helped turn the team around with three post-season appearances.
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll be live tweeting the game @friarblog.
WHERE TO: WATCH
This one is finally on All-Access video!
iTunes: Friars.com iPhone App
I’m on the train for the first half, so let’s see how the live video works on the app.
Check back here later to see if the video will be streamed, ahem, “elsewhere”.