Whether it is freshly squeezed by Coach Cooley or right out of Jim Boeheim’s basket, an orange taste no different.
The Orange that Coach Cooley will become shortly accustomed to over the next couple years before they squeeze their way out of the Big East and into the ACC is a team that never changes its identity.
Jimmy Boeheim’s famous 2-3 zone has given everyone trouble from the “Monstar’s Goon Squad” to Jordan’s ’95-’96 Bulls team that went 70-12.
The last time these two faced off, the Friars got within six points with around the 5 minute mark before the Orange pulled away.
Ed Cooley went six deep that night at the Dunk but one would think he would have to look further down his bench this time around in order to hang with the ‘Cuse at the Dome.
PG: The most “juicy” of all the matchups versus the Orange is at the one guard spot where Vincent Council will go up against Scoop Jardine. Council must limit the amount of “Scoop to the Hoop” drives that enables his Orange teammates to get open on the wings. Council must also take care of the ball like it is his little brother. Vince has been all too accustomed of carelessly handling the ball in the frontcourt. Scoop has as quick a pair of hands as any guard in the country and will not hesitant to jump at the top of that zone with the potential of a breakout.
SG: Bryce Cotton is coming off one of the best shooting nights any player in the country has had against a top 15 opponents going 5-5 from deep and 10-12 from the charity stripe. Cotton was able to pick any spot he wanted on the floor and let it fly with room to spare against a struggling Louisville defense. He will be playing opposite one of the more physically imposing two guards in the league in Brandon Triche who knows all too well what it means for his team to hit on a number of open threes. Triche made the Friars pay from deep in their last meeting going 4-5 from three, as he looked unconscious at times from behind the arc. Coach Cooley is hoping Cotton’s confidence found its the way into his suitcase and on the team bus headed for Syracuse or else the Friars could struggle getting good looks.
G/F: The Friars didn’t seem to miss their southpaw from Boston the other night against the Cards as Gerard Coleman was sidelined due to a bone bruise in his lower back. He most likely suffered this when he took it to the rim and collided with Seton Hall’s Herb Pope, only to be sent spiraling down to the hardwood and grimacing in noticeably discomfort. The Friars were able to run their flex offense, and any defense that Cooley called for against Pitino’s offense, flawlessly without Coleman in the lineup. Gerard will be rewarded back against one of the deepest benches, let alone backcourts, in the country. He will see most of his time on the floor against Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair. The two combined for 25 points in their last meeting at the Dunk. These two combo guards could start for the majority of teams in the conference, let alone the country. Gerard, much like Council, has been prone to turning the ball over on a number of occasions. Waiters and Fair were ball hawks against Villanova in their last game that allowed for easy breakout dunks that silenced the Nova crowd. If Coleman suffers no setbacks from his lingering back pain, the Friars should feel confident about their ability to defend on the perimeter and create open shooting lanes on offense.
SF: Providence has not relied on a freshman for so much of its success dating back to when Cooley was impressing Stonehill scouts during his days at Central High. LaDontae Henton has been on the National Freshman watch midway through the Friars non-conference schedule. “Buckets” showed his grit, that Dayton fans could only shake their heads at, last time against the Orange where he was going toe for toe with the Syracuse frontcourt on a number of occasions on the boards. Buckets will need to prevent Kris Joseph from doing just as his nickname suggests in order for the Friars to have any success from the wings and on the boards. Joseph’s ability to pick apart any defense has given teams fits over the past few seasons. He is as good a scorer the Orange has had since Carmelo Anthony was walking the halls of the Carrier Dome. Buckets’ all around game will be put to the test come Saturday night, but tests like these are nothing the freshman from Lansing, MI will shy away from in his upcoming years playing under Cooley.
F/C: When Fab Melo isn’t getting an earful from his coach or giving an earful to a referee, he is one of the more dominant big men the Friars will be up against this season. His size is something the Friars will have little, if no, answer for on Saturday. The way to approach this matchup is to bring him out of the paint and away from the rim. Kadeem Batts has developed himself a nice little mid-range game since his return this semester. If Kadeem can establish himself in the middle of that Syracuse zone, there will be opportunities for him to shoot if he can get squared. If not, He has the quickness and ball handling skills that should allow him to take Melo off the dribble and look to make plays above the rim that will undoubtedly put Melo in foul trouble sooner rather than later. Rakeem Christmas fouled his way out of the Dunk in the last meeting scoring only one field goal. He will play higher up at times than Melo will which will leave him with matchups against Bilal Dixon and even Brice Kofane. If either of these two Friars want to impress the coaching staff, taking Christmas off the boards and finding him a spot on the Orange bench will be a good place to start. Any production for Dixon or Kofane against Melo will be trying to prevent him from crashing the offensive board. Melo likes to hang around the rim and look for easy buckets; Dixon’s size should help him box out Melo, while Kofane will rely on his jumping ability and shot altering arms to contain Melo.
Tough to compare Friars to Oranges:
PG: Vincent Council- more of an upside than Scoop and has an uncanny ability to get his teammates quality looks from the floor.
SG: Brandon Triche- his physicality will overwhelm Cotton as he will look impose his will against him on both ends of the floor.
G/F: Waiters and Fair- the two of them spark the Orange offense when it needs it most and will not allow Coleman to get easy lefty finger rolls at the rim.
SF: Kris Joseph- he hasn’t had a breakout game as of late but he is a matchup nightmare for the Friars if Henton struggles with him.
F/C: Kadeem Batts- assuming Melo will pick up two nickel/dime type fouls in the early going, Batts should be able to get in the middle of that 2-3 zone and allow his teammates to shoot over chasing Syracuse defenders.
“I’m not in it to be congratulated on a loss. We want to win. This process takes time. At the end of the day it’s about winning the basketball game.” – Ed Cooley