The break is over! I don’t know about you guys, but ten straight days without PC basketball got me a little antsy. You would think it would have been the perfect time for me to complete Christmas shopping, but hey there are still some days left.
The Friars get a New Hampshire team that has already faced a lot of common opponents – They lost to Boston College, Holy Cross, and Fairfield, while beating Brown (C’MON BROWN!). Kadeem Batts will be back tonight, and PC will look to continue their 5 game win streak before the big URI road game on Friday.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM EST
Opponent: New Hampshire (4-4)
Location: The Dunk
ESPN Accuscore: Providence 68.1, New Hampshire 54.2 (Providence wins 84.1% in 10,000 simulations)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Providence 71, New Hampshire 58
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Batts’ Game shape, timing: In the Providence Journal’s article about Kadeem Batts returning, Coach Cooley mentioned that “He’s been on the scout team and he’s in okay shape”. Not exactly encouraging words on his game readiness, but maybe Cooley is just setting expectations since Batts might need a little time to get his rhythm and timing back. On the Coaches’ show last week, Cooley mentioned that it was basically going to be an exhibition game for Kadeem. According to Kevin McNamara in the Projo, Batts will come off the bench for the time being.
Friars defense shouldn’t be challenged too much: New Hampshire comes in with a 90.8 adjusted offensive efficiency rating, which is ranked #307 in the country. Of the five Wildcats starters, only 6-9 senior forward Brian Benson scores more than a point per possession. In fact, the only other player on the roster who also scores 1.0 PPP or higher is a guy who has a 6.8% minute percentage.
No second chance for you!: New Hampshire might have trouble scoring, but their defense has been helped out by grabbing their opponents’ misses. Their 76.1% defensive rebounding percentage is ranked #19 in the nation. The Friars have had trouble on the glass this year, although Kadeem Batts (who averaged almost 3 offensive boards per game last season) should give them a boost in that department.
Game speed: The Friars obviously like to get out and run, but some recent opponents have had some success in keeping them in check in the half court (see Boston College). New Hampshire holds their opponents to low score totals that is helped out by a low adjusted tempo of around 65 possessions per game.
Friars shooting: UNH has held their opponents to a low 45% effective field goal percentage, ranked 76th in the county. Since everyone likes to point out how PC has gotten wins from a soft schedule, here are the teams that have had horrible shooting nights against the Wildcats: Holy Cross, Brown, Dartmouth, and Marist. Boston College and Fairfield were able to shoot well against UNH, so the Friars shouldn’t be too worried – however they might have to work for open looks and continue to be smart about shot selection.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
New Hampshire has posted a 4-4 mark this season. In its most recent game, UNH earned a 73-56 win over Marist on December 17. Senior guard Alvin Abreu leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Senior forward Brian Benson is the team’s top rebounder (10.0 rpg).
UNHWildcats.com: Men’s Hoop Hits the Road to face Providence on ESPN 3 (Dec. 20)
New Hampshire has emerged as one of the top defensive teams in the America East to start the season, ranking first in the league in scoring defense (59.9 ppg) and defensive field goal percentage (.411; 167-406). The ‘Cats had their most impressive defensive effort against Marist, holding the Red Foxes to opponent season lows in field goal percentage (.327; 18-55) and 3-point field goal percentage (.111; 1-9). Additionally, the Wildcats have held opponents under 60 points in three straight games, including four of the last five outings.
Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – America East Conference
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Last season was tough to endure for the Wildcats, who suffered a plethora of injuries and finished just 6-10 in AEC action. There is reason to believe that this 2011-12 team can improve on that mark, as eight letterwinners are back in place. Despite all of the players that were sidelined throughout the campaign a year ago, New Hampshire still managed to rank 18th nationally in scoring defense by holding opponents to 60.9 ppg. Junior Chandler Rhoads, an America East All-Defensive honoree, and senior forward Brian Benson, who ranked second in the AEC in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and fifth in blocks (1.1 bpg), are back in place. Expect some points to come from senior guard Alvin Abreu, a Second Team all-conference selection in 2009-10 who missed all but four outings last season due to a knee injury.
Fosters: UNH men roar past Marist
Senior Alvin Abreu scored a game-high 18 points, and the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team erased an early 10-point deficit to run past Marist, 73-56, in non-conference action Saturday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium.
For a program that hasn’t enjoyed much success over the years — only three winning seasons since 1984 — New Hampshire measures its progress in more incremental ways. The Wildcats are rightfully proud of their three consecutive years of double-digit wins.
As they head into the season, finishing above .500 for the first time in 17 years certainly seems possible. New Hampshire might be thin and unproven in the frontcourt, but it has veteran guards whose talent and experience could be enough to make up for any low-post deficiencies.
The Wildcats shouldn’t be as bad offensively with the return of Abreu and Myrick, and they’ll probably be as good defensively — New Hampshire ranked second in the America East in scoring defense (60.9 ppg).
WHAT TO: LISTEN TO
Coach Herrion gives us an in-depth look at his 3-3 Wildcats as he talks about his strong guard play, his teams effort in close quality loses, and their lack of an interior presence. New Hampshire travels to the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard to take on the Stags Sunday at 1 P.M.
WHAT TO: WATCH
UNH Men’s Basketball Highlights vs Marist (12/17/11)
Senior guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored a season-high 21 points to lead the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team to a 53-50 win over intrastate rival Dartmouth in non-conference action at Lundholm Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
UNH Men’s Basketball 2011-12 Media Day presented by America East
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN
WEEI 103.7 FM