On Super Bowl Sunday, the Providence Friars will take on the traitor West Virginia Mountaineers. There has been a lot of craziness so far this weekend in talking about what could be for next year’s incoming class. Before we over-indulge on wings, beer, commercials, and chips, the focus will turn to the current Friars and their chance to build off the victory this past Wednesday against Rutgers. In the locker room that night, I like to think that Ed Cooley used the ‘ol Lou Brown phrase, “You guys won tonight. If you win again the next game, that’s called a winning streak. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE!!”.
The Mounteers are coming in with a three game losing streak, but they haven’t played in almost a week. Bob Huggins should have this team extremely hungry and focused on a getting a much needed win against a team they have beaten handily over the last several years.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 12:00PM EST
Opponent: West Virginia (15-8, 5-5)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: West Virginia -4.5
ESPN Accuscore: WVU 73.8, PC 72.2 (Providence wins in 50.7% of over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: WVU 73, PC 71
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Can the Friars Stop Kevin Jones?: The senior 6-8 260 lb forward is the go to guy that is putting up some monster numbers all around. He’s leading the BIG EAST in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double in the process. Like Vincent Council, he’s on the court pretty much at all times. While not many players have taken more shots than him this season (#9 in the nation, #1 in the BIG EAST), Jones is incredibly efficent (127.5 offensive rating). Bilal Dixon has done a great job lately on both ends of the court, but he’s going to have his hands full against Jones.
Let the Truck Go: Darryl “Truck” Bryant is the 2nd leading scorer on the team with 17 points per game. He actually has a slightly higher usage rate than Kevin Jones, but isn’t quite as efficient due to turnovers and a low shooting percentage. Bryant is prone to some very poor shooting nights (3-16 against Seton Hall, 2-13 against UConn, 2-16 vs. Cincinnati) that usually end up as West Virginia losses. The Friars may want to let him fire it away and see where’s he is at.
Kilicli the Iron Man: Against Pittsburgh, backup center Kevin Noreen broke his ankle and will miss the rest of the season. As a result, it looks like starter Deniz Kilicli (10.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG) will have to play like he’s in the rotation for Ed Cooley’s Friars. He’s averaging 25 minutes a game, but had to log 35 without the services of Noreen.
The Young Guards Turn it Over: West Virginia must be extremely thankful that their star Kevin Jones rarely turns over the ball (9.2% turnover percentage). While the freshman guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne are very talented and play big minutes, they cough up the ball a lot – Hinds has a 25.3% turnover percentage, and brown has a 30.4%. The Friars are pretty bad at forcing miscues, but they may be able to do a little better when the ball is in the freshmans’ hands.
WHAT TO: READ
Woonsocket Call: McGair: West Virginia’s Jones will put Friars to the test
If West Virginia (15-8 overall, 5-5 in Big East play) is going to get back in the NCAA running, a big game from Jones is a must. With 15 double-doubles in 23 games this season, the Mount Vernon, N.Y. native has been able to deliver more often than not. Looking deeper at the 4.5 offensive rebounds he’s averaging (tops in America) and the 25 3-pointers he’s made and it’s little wonder why Cooley was quick to lavish praise upon someone who stands a good chance of winding up as Big East Player of the Year.
West Virginia Illustrated: Men’s Basketball: WVU vs. Providence Preview
The Mountaineers have losses to St. John’s, Syracuse and Pittsburgh over the past two weeks. As the season winds down, they have to get it together to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive and Sunday will be their best opportunity to do so. The Friars are currently in last place in the Big East, but did win their last contest against Rutgers at home.
Inconsistency has been a big issue with this year’s Mountaineer team. They arguably had their worst performance of the season against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden. They then went to the Carrier Dome and took Syracuse, the No. 4 team in the country, to the wire and if not for a blown goaltending call, the game had a good chance of going to overtime. Two days later, WVU returned to the Coliseum for the Backyard Brawl against Pitt and struggled on their way to another loss.
Metro News: Mountaineers Back On The Road
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are battling road game woes as well – they’ve won just one true road game all year, that coming at Rutgers in the beginning of January.
“Providence plays really well at home and we haven’t been playing very well on the road,” Jones said. “Now’s the time when we have to kind of reverse those roles.”
The Charleston Gazette: Friars on the rebound
“We got here in March and I’m very proud of our progress,” Cooley said. “I don’t think our progress is shown in wins or losses because this is a brutal league. But I am encouraged about our effort, what our players have done in the classroom, what we’ve done in the community, and we’re right there in our games.
“We’re just short on depth and a little bit of talent, but hopefully we can address that in the recruiting process.”
The Charleston Gazette: Mountaineers out to end 3-game slide at last-place Providence
“I’ve been in a lot of situations where it was a must-win game,” said West Virginia senior Kevin Jones, who will play in his 130th college game today and has logged more minutes than all but two other players in school history. “This is definitely one of them.”
The Charleston Gazette: In-season break is rarity for Huggins
The Mountaineers haven’t played since Monday and don’t again until Sunday’s game at Providence. On the heels of a three-game losing streak over a span of just six days, the recipe for improvement wasn’t more work, but less.
West Virginia is back at it now, having practiced hard Thursday and Friday. But the two days before that they did nothing. Whether or not that helped won’t likely be known until the Mountaineers begin playing again, but the break was certainly appreciated.
“I figure everybody needed a break from each other – the team, the coaches, everybody,” senior forward Kevin Jones said Friday. “I think it worked, and I think everybody will respond well against Providence.”
Charleston Daily Mail: WVU ‘not in good shape right now’
We have to fix it,” Kilicli said. “We’re the ones playing. Huggs can run us until we puke, but if we’re going to do what we want to do, we’ve got to fix this and put out minds to it.
“We’re not in good shape right now. We’ve got to win enough games if we want to make the (NCAA) Tournament. If we don’t, what’s going to happen is nobody is going to get recognition and none of the players are going to get what they want. I’m sure that’s a good motivation for them and for us.”
The Daily Antemaeum: West Virginia looks to end losing streak when it travels to Providence
Jones said following Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh, much of the team – especially the younger players – had their heads down in the locker room, and he knows that mentality must change before Sunday’s game against the Friars.
“We’re playing a tough Providence team, so we definitely have to bounce back,” he said. “We might not have the most talented team every night, but we control how hard we play every night.”
Bluefield Daily Telegraph: WVU’s 3-game slide is longest under Huggins
“We haven’t played with any consistency all year,” he said. “We get on a run and we’re passing the ball and we’re playing pretty good and some guy will decide he’s going to show everybody he can’t dribble. Or we’ll do a pretty good job of rebounding and all of a sudden … the ball will bounce, and they’ll grab it and put it in and we’re just standing there.”
The West Virginia Mountaineers have lost three games in a row and Bob Huggins’ team looks to stop the bleeding as the road ahead doesn’t look easy. WVU is 5-5 in the Big East, 1-5 on the road this season, and and they are in eighth place in the conference standings. Kevin Jones is averaging 20.9 points and 11.5 rebounds, Darryl Bryant is averaging 17 points, and Deniz Kilicli is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. As a team West Virginia is averaging 74 points, 15.3 assists, and they are shooting 45.5 percent while defensively they are allowing 66.6 points and their opponents are shooting 44 percent. West Virginia plays a style of game that can cause a lot of teams problems in the NCAA Tournament but first they need to get there.
WHAT TO: WATCH
Cox Sports Vin Parise checks in with PC Coach Ed Cooley on two of his team’s most pleasant surprizes this season, LaDontae Henton and Bryce Cotton.
WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins talks with the Mountaineer Sports Network’s Tony Caridi about the Mountaineers upcoming opponents and shares some stories about his good friend Charlie Spoonhour, who passed away this week
Senior guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant talks about his career at West Virginia University.
The Pitt Panthers continued their winning ways, snagging a 72-66 victory over arch rival West Virginia in the first edition of the 2012 Backyard Brawl on the hardwood.
West Virginia hosed by Syracuse goaltending NO CALL
Fuquan Edwin scored 19 points and Seton Hall held off a late comeback by West Virginia to defeat the Mountaineers 67-48 in Newark, NJ.
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. West Virginia
WHERE TO: LISTEN