Last season, a win against Louisville at the Dunk was one of the high points of the season. Marshon Brooks did Marshon Brooks things, Gerard Coleman was great offensively, and Louisville shot incredibly bad from behind the arc. In order to pick up their first BIG EAST win of the season, Providence needs to force the Cards into another ugly shooting night, and show more consistency in their own offense in key situations.
Oh, and the Friars need to play TOUGH. Not like the whiny style that a certain forward showed in last year’s loss to Louisville on the road.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM EST
Opponent: Louisville (13-3, 1-2)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: Louisville -8
ESPN Accuscore: Louisville 70.7, Providence 60.3 (Louisville wins 79.7% of games in over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Louisville 71, Providence 62
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Who’s Got Offense?: We’ve seen what the Friars have been capable of in their lack of offense at times, and Louisville has struggled at times as well, even posting close numbers in adjusted offensive efficiency (104.1, #102 vs PC’s 102.0, #142). While injuries have played a big part, the Cardinals are simply not shooting well (48.2% effective field goal percentage, ranked #199). On the perimeter, look for Kyle Kurik (who takes as many threes as Bryce Cotton, and hits 35%) and Chris Smith to put up a good amount of shots from behind the arc. Gorgui Geng will get touches down low, while Peyton Siva and Rakeem Buckles can score from all over. When Russ Smith is in the game, he will shoot from wherever he is, and often – he sports a 31% possession percentage in 21 minutes per game off the bench. Oh, and apparently he’s some sort of meme on Card Chronicle.
Foul trouble: Gorgui Deng could pose trouble for the Friars down low (he’s 6th in the nation in offensive rebounds, and 42nd in off. rebounding percentage with 15.1%), but he’s fouled out in both conference losses.
The Beast is relentless: In the last two games, the Friars have faced a Syracuse team that leads the nation in steals, and a Seton Hall team with a player that leads he nation in steals (Fuquan Edwin). PC had mixed results though out those 80 minutes, but the next 40 are going to be equally as challenging. It’s no secret that Rick Pitino teams will play pressing defense that tries to create offense by causing turnovers. The Cards are 7th in the country in steals, and opponents are turning it over on almost 20% of their possessions. The result? A fantastic 85.0 defensive efficiency rating that is 4 th in the country.
Tired Friars?: In his postgame press conference following the loss to Seton Hall, Cooley repeatedly mentioned how tired the players looked. Considering that four players rarely get a breather on the bench, you can hardly blame them. The team had Sunday off, in which they hopefully learned some winning ways and tough defense by watching the New York Football Giants (Coming for you Rodgers!! Discount Double Check!!!). A day later against Louisville, the Friars will need to dig deep to find the energy they played with like last week against Syracuse. After the game rest will be plenty, as Providence has only a (albeit daunting) road game against Syracuse over the next 10 days.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
No. 10/11 Louisville (13-3) was picked by the coaches to finish third in the BIG EAST preseason poll. In their most recent game, the Cardinals were defeated by Notre Dame in double overtime, 67-65, on January 7. Head Coach Rick Pitino’s squad is led by senior forward Kyle Kuric (13.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Russ Smith (12.0 ppg), who are the team’s top scorers. Sophomore Gorgui Dieng is the team’s top rebounder, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game.
The Cardinals (13-3, 1-2 BIG EAST) are coming off a tough 67-65 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame at home on Jan. 7 despite holding the Fighting Irish to 31.7 percent (20-of-63) from the field and just 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from beyond the arc. Kyle Kuric and Chane Behanan each tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng added 11 points and seven boards. The Cardinals scored 36 points in the paint as compared to Notre Dame’s 20. The Fighting Irish, who forced 18 Louisville turnovers, were led by Jack Cooley’s 18 points and 10 boards.
Pitino has mentioned throughout the season how difficult he believes the Big East road schedule is for Louisville (13-3, 1-2). It’s more of a concern now that his team has dropped its first two conference home games after Saturday’s 67-65 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame.
9. Louisville: The Cardinals are hard to figure. Solid defensively with gritty players, they are abysmal offensively. Those struggles have led to a mini-skid, with Louisville losing three of its last four.
GoLocalProv: Remembering The 1987 Final Four Friars
Still, it was a magical run by the Friars. And tonight at the Dunk, many of the players from that team will be honored at halftime of PC’s game against the 14th-ranked Louisville Cardinals and Rick Pitino. Ryan Ford, Darryl Wright, Carlton Screen, Dave Kipfer, Jacek Duda, Ernie “Pop” Lewis and Del Ray Brooks will all be there bringing back memories of a great moment in Providence College basketball and Rhode Island sports history.
Can Providence get both Bilal Dixon and Kadeem Batts playing well in the same game? It hasn’t happened to date, but if Pitino is intent on scoring on the inside, and the Friars potentially wearing down in the face of the Cardinal’s pressure, PC’s chances of pulling an upset may depend on both contributing.
University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino still won’t say he’s concerned about his offense, but his actions indicate otherwise heading into tonight’s game at Providence.
The Courier-Journal: Not time for U of L to panic, but it might not be far away
Some will be in a rush to embalm the Cards’ entire season, noting their 13-3 record has been built on 13 home games. This group has consistently labored to score. It looks a player shy of remaining a top-20 team.
Card Chronicle: Rick Pitino Talks Providence Game, Loss To Notre Dame
(They’ll be recognizing the ’87 Providence Final Four team on Tuesday.) That team was very important to me. “That team forever made me dream.” Has always felt like his teams could make a dramatic comeback or win a number of games late in the season because of that team. That team made me believe that anything was possible because they defied all logic and all odds.
U of L Card GameDieng’s foul problems continuing concern for Louisville
When Dieng leaves the lineup, he takes half of U of L’s defensive presence with him, leaving UofL vulnerable in the middle. No one with his post moves, no one with his quickness, no intimidation factors, no shot blocking abilities.
Louisville barely escaped with a win against No. 19 Vanderbilt in overtime (62-60), allowed No. 12 Georgetown to run away with a win (71-68), lost to No. 3 Kentucky (69-62) and got out-rebounded (49-28) and most recently suffered a double-overtime loss to Notre Dame after failing to close out a lead in the last three minutes of regulation.
Providence captured its Final Four birth in Louisville’s Freedom Hall.
To mark the anniversary, Providence will honor Pitino and his former players during a halftime ceremony.
The Sports Network: (14) Louisville (13-3) at Providence (11-6) (ET)
Providence has yet to back down from any opponent, it just cannot seem to get over the hump. The Cardinals are getting desperate for a victory after losing three of their last four. Louisville should be able to contain the Friars’ offensive attack with its stifling defense.
WHAT TO: WATCH
Providence College Basketball – 1987 Final Four coverage
Rick Pitino previews Providence, looks back at Notre Dame
College basketball highlights from Louisville vs. St. John’s on January 3, 2012
NCAA Louisville cardinals basketball highlights vs wku dec 23 2011 Russ smith kyle kuric Chris smith and more
College basketball highlights from Louisville vs. Memphis on December 17, 2011
College basketball highlights from Louisville vs. Butler on November 19, 2011
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I‚Äôll 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