The last time a number one team came to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the senior-laden Friars pulled off a great upset of Pittsburgh in no doubt the best moment of the Keno Davis era (it was all downhill from there). Tonight, a much more talented and deep Syracuse team visits the Dunk as the nations top college basketball squadron. With the state the Friars are currently in, it’s just a horrible match up on many levels. Ed Cooley is going to need amazing production from his guards if there is going to be any shot at an incredible upset. The front court? They need to step up on defense and contribute offensively as well, because you know what? JONATHAN KALE IS NOT WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR, fans! GEOFF MCDERMOTT IS NOT WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR! Leave it all on the court like those Friars from 2009! I want to see Vincent Council kissing center court tonight, damnit!
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 9:00PM EST
Opponent: Syracuse (18-0)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: Syracuse -13.5
ESPN Accuscore: Syracuse 76.8, Providence 66.7 (Syracuse wins 74.3% in over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Syracuse 72, Providence 65
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Friars Shooting: If Providence has any chance at all, they might need the shooting game of the year from most of their players. The most threes the Friars have in a game this year is 9 (against Brown), followed by four games of making 6. Shooting under 25% from downtown for a 6th straight game isn’t an option. Neither are missed layups or free throws.
Council vs. The Thieves: Turnovers have been a huge issue for the Friars lately, specifically for Vincent Council in BIG EAST play. Bad news is that the Orange are #1 in steals percentage (14.1%), causing their opponents to turn the ball over on 23.1% of their possessions. PC has turned the ball over at least 20% of their possessions in 10 of their 15 games. Ruh roh.
Gerard Coleman vs. The Zone: We all know what kind of game Coleman had against Georgetown, but if he’s looking to quickly bounce back there couldn’t be a worse opponent. Coleman might be better off focusing on defense and moving the ball around the zone without turning it over. While its hard to imagine a worse outcome than Georgetown in driving to the basket (missed layups, foul shots), block master Fab Melo will be lurking in the paint if he decides to venture in. I say lay off the threes as well, and if anything, hope to get some mid range jumpers ONLY if he is absolutely wide open.
Efficiency Masters: The Syracuse offense is the anti-Providence/Georgetown game. Out of all their players that see more than 10 minutes of action (and there are ten of them), all have offensive efficiency ratings well above 100. The two lowest are freshman Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams who still have a good 105.5 and 103.4 rating respectively. Kris Joseph, CJ Fair, Dion Waiters, and Brandon Triche all have efficiency ratings hovering near 120. Bryce Cotton is the only Friar that plays big minutes with a similar rating (119).
Finding Weaknesses:: OK ‘Cuse, are you bad at ANYTHING? The Orange don’t have many weaknesses (they are number 1 for a reason, eh?). Looking at their stats, they um, don’t get to the line often? At least our thin roster might not get into foul trouble? That’s all I got.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
No. 1/1 Syracuse (15-0) was picked by the coaches to finish first in the BIG EAST preseason poll. In their most recent game, the Orange defeated DePaul, 87-68, on January 1. Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s squad is led by senior forward Kris Joseph (14.0 ppg) and sophomore guard Dion Waiters (12.5 ppg), who are the teams’ top scorers. Sophomore center Fab Melo is the team’s top rebounder, averaging 5.5 rebounds per game.
Syracuse’s bench has been a key factor in its early-season success. The Orange’s reserves have accounted for 47.2 percent of SU’s scoring this season. Syracuse is averaging 37.5 bench points per game, while its opponents are getting 15.6 points per game from their bench.
Sophomore Dion Waiters has played in all 15 games in a reserve role. He is SU’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points per game. In addition, sophomore C.J. Fair is second on the team in minutes played behind senior Kris Joseph.
That tough portion may begin Saturday at home versus No. 20 Marquette, though the Orange shouldn’t overlook a Providence team which is 8-0 at home. The Friars (11-4, 0-2) hosted four ranked Big East opponents last season, winning twice and losing the other two games by a combined five points.
Syracuse.com: Providence plans to play some defense vs. Syracuse
To compensate for his lack of basketball bodies, Cooley wants to slow the tempo against Syracuse, a team the PC coach calls “a juggernaut” in terms of skill and depth.
That Providence might attempt to slow the pace, that the Friars hope to prevent the Orange from galloping from baseline to baseline will be a novel approach from the Friars.
“We haven’t scratched the surface of our potential,” Joseph told USA Today. “There is still a lot we can improve on. We can sharpen our offense in the half court. Defensively, we can be a lot better…We can cut back on turnovers.”
Jay Bilas, ESPN analyst
“I think the thing you have to really be conscious of is keeping them out of transition.
That means your offense helping your defense. You can’t be loose with the ball. Syracuse gets so many steals because teams are loose with ball trying to attack the zone. They go from defense to offense better than anyone in the country. I don’t think their half-court offense is that good. They’re not bad, but you’d rather them be in half-court than in transition. If you’re running back in conversion, you’re screwed.”
Friar Basketball: What to Watch for: #1 Syracuse comes to Providence
For as great as the Big East has been over the past three years, when #1 Syracuse comes to Providence on Wednesday night it will mark the first time PC has faced the top team in America since they defeated Pittsburgh February 24, 2009. And make no mistake, this is a terrific and deep Syracuse club.
How deep? Only two players average over 22 minutes per game, while a pair of McDonald’s All Americans in Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas are eight and ninth in minutes played this season.
Syracuse is anchored by veterans Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche, but key to their rise to the top of the rankings has been the contributions of three sophomores who seeing increased roles.
Cox Sports Online: Inside the Providence Lockerroom
Take Care of the Ball – Syracuse leads the nation in steals and it’s because of the vaunted 2-3 zone. The wings are the most important areas on zone offense against the Orange. The low corner wings play so high in the zone, at times it looks like a 2-2-1 half court zone. This look makes teams believe they can make the short corner or baseline pass. That initial look gets stolen often and the cross court skip pass after the ball gets short corner REALLY gets stolen often. Ball reversals seem to make sense in theory, but it’s difficult when you experience the length and athleticism of the zone live. Good things happen with the PC zone offense when the ball gets to the high post. It will be interesting to see how the Friars penetrate the zone.
Cox Sports Online: Syracuse Flashback – CJ Fair & Michael Carter-Williams
The last time a #1 team came to Providence, Cox Sports produced the broadcast with a win over then #1 Pitt. Well, Cox will be producing tomorrow night’s game too, and hoping for a similar result. We have Don Orsillo & Ronny Perry lined up as usual, but they’ll be joined tomorrow by ESPN’s Andy Katz, who will be providing sideline analysis.
Defensively, the ‘Cuse are possibly as good as they’ve ever been. Their length and athleticism comes at you in waves. The quickness and active hands of Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine at the top of the vaunted 2-3 matchup zone means you can’t just rotate the ball from side to side at will. You want to try to split the zone and get into the lane? Fine, 7’0’’ Fab Melo, 6’10’’ Baye Keita or 6’9’’ Rakeem Christmas will be waiting to swat (or at least) alter your shot. There’s a reason Syracuse leads the country in steals per game (11.5) and is third in blocks (7.8).
Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Syracuse vs. Providence: Keita, Southerland Nursing Injuries
Keita said the hip “was just a little bit sore.” He did not anticipate any problems playing on Wednesday, when the Orange visit Providence for a 9 p.m. date with the Friars.
James Southerland, who twisted an ankle during Sunday’s game, appeared to be fine on Monday.
Syracuse Orange Basketball: The Development of James Southerland
Yes Southerland is the best three point shooter in the team. And yes he’s made some big shots for the Orange this year. But Jim Boeheim has shown a lot of trust in Southerland. The reason is the development in the rest of his game. Last season, after a few games where Southerland struggled rebounding, and Boeheim ripped him for it. His playing time subsequently plummeted. After Syracuse beat UConn last year, Boeheim said, “He only played when Kris didn’t play at Pittsburgh. He had a great opportunity. In three games, he had one rebound. He played his way out. There’s no mystery.’’ That has changed this year.
WHAT TO: WATCH
How will Providence hold up when it faces off against the top-ranked Syracuse Orange at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Wednesday night. CBSSports.com college basketball columnist Gary Parrish joins Lauren Shehadi to preview the matchup.
Basketball Brawl – Syracuse vs. Providence (1987)
DePaul men’s basketball video highlights against BIG EAST Conference opponent Syracuse at Allstate Arena.
Record-setting night for Fab Melo leads SU over Seton Hall
Jim Boehim interview from Big East Media Day, October 2011. He talks about Coach Cooley and playing in Providence.
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
FriarTV: PC vs. Syracuse
WHERE TO: LISTEN
WEEI 103.7 FM