So, who wants the 7:00PM game on Tuesday of the BIG EAST Tournament? With both Providence and DePaul sitting at 2-13 in the conference, the winner of today’s contest will most likely be able to claim 15th place and avoid the basement, including a little more convenient (for the fans at least) game time on the first day of the tournament. What does the loser get, aside from finishing in last and being the butt of all jokes amongst other BIG EAST teams? A noon start where not a lot of fans show up. I know you’ve been giving it your all Friars, but come on bring it! Do it for those fans in NY who may not be able to get out of work for day basketball, and let’s take 15th place. Oh, and a road win would be nice. The Friars last road win? January 2010 against DePaul. If they don’t pull it off today their last chance to win a BIG EAST road game is at Notre Dame. Yep.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 2:00PM EST
Opponent: DePaul (11-16, 2-13)
Location: Allstate Arena
Spread: DePaul -1
ESPN Accuscore: Providence 76.7, DePaul 75.3 (Providence wins 55.9% of over 10,000 simulations)
CBSSports Daily Picks: DePaul 72, Providence 70
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Fresh Friars: The overworked Friars have had a full week off since their last game, and Coach Cooley even cut their practices in half this week in order to rest the team and challenge them mentally. Let’s hope PC has one final push left in them, instead of the usual late February/March apathy.
Blazing pace: This should be an entertaining game if both teams run their usual fast paced style of play. DePaul comes into the game with an adjusted tempo of 72.7, which is first in the BIG EAST and 9th in the nation. Vincent Council is all, heyoooo!
Not a lot of defense: Going by adjusted defensive efficiency, DePaul has a worse defense than PC (105.5 versus Providence’s 102.7). Opponents are not taking many threes, or even getting to the line all that much. They are just scoring lots of easy baskets to the tune of a blistering 53.1% 2-point shot percentage (325th ranked).
Melvin puts up shots: Sophomore forward Cleveland Melvin is the team’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game. However, his efficiency has fallen off since his impressive BIG EAST Rookie of the Year campaign last season (105.5 offensive rating last year, 95.5 so far this year). The shooting numbers are down, but he’s taking way more shots. He is first in the conference in field goal attempts (the Jeremy Hazell award), and 18th in the country. Like a midget at a urinal, the Friar big men are going to have to stay on their toes.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Scouting The Blue Demons: DePaul has posted an 11-16 mark overall and a 2-13 record in the BIG EAST. In the team’s most recent game, the Blue Demons were defeated at St. John’s, 79-72, on February 20. Sophomore forward Cleve- land Melvin is the team’s leading scorer (17.7 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg). Sophomore Brandon Young also is having a strong season as he ranks second the team in scoring (14.9 ppg).
DePaul Blue Demons: DePaul and Providence Face Off in Rosemont on Saturday
The Last Meeting: DePaul knocked off Providence, 79-76, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Feb. 17, 2011… Jeremiah Kelly led DePaul with 23 points and Cleveland Melvin added 20… Brandon Young also scored 17 points for the Blue Demons… the win snapped a 25-game losing streak in conference play for the Blue Demons and a 29-game road losing streak… Marshon Brooks led Providence with a game-high 28 points… Duke Mondy added 17 and Vincent Council scored 12 for the Friars.
An area that has killed the Friars at key moments over the past two months, rebounding, is not a strength of DePaul’s, as the Demons rank #252 in the country in boards per game and are way down at #338 in defensive rebound percentage (a shade worse than Providence’s ranking of 304).
What does it all mean?
There should be ample opportunity for PC to do what they do best – get out and run. When Providence has been at their best this season they’ve cleared the glass and quickly gotten the ball in the eager hands of Vincent Council. With an opponent that is quick to pull the trigger from deep and plays at such a fast pace, there should be ample opportunity to run.
How the Friars’ legs hold up will be key, as DePaul as nine players going at least 17 minutes per game.
WeAreDePaul.com: DePaul vs. Providence Game Preview
While the league’s basement is a place the Blue Demons know all too well (they have finished there the last three years), those who haven’t seen the team play this year need to know it’s not fair to say this is the same old DePaul.
Last Saturday, the Blue Demons led nationally ranked Louisville by 17 points before falling in overtime. On Monday, the Blue Demons suffered a 79-72 loss at St. John’s, but the game was there for the taking in the final minute. DePaul, a team that relies heavily on sophomores and freshmen, needs to learn how to operate at winning time or its record isn’t going to reflect its improvement.
Chicago Tribune: DePaul coach believes team is close
“We’re obviously real close,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “When you’re making a transition and you’re trying to build and you’re trying to get better and learn to win, you have to understand where you are and just keep hitting that rock. And make your players understand that.
“Everybody who is not close to the program and not working every day and not doing what we’re doing … maybe they don’t understand. But it is really important that our coaching staff and players understand that we’re real close and we just keep battling. Hopefully we can get over the hump.”
Chicago Sun-Times: Oliver Purnell waits for his young Demons to have ‘that watershed moment’
For both programs, relying on youth means patience.
“Everyone matures at a different rate,’’ Purnell said, noting the up-and-down moments Melvin (17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Young (14.9 ppg, 4.7 apg) have had. “They’ve had some positive performances, some big games, but there’s inconsistency, too.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve seen all this before,’’ he said. “[Rebuilding] is a process. It’s experience. It’s growing up. It’s a combination of those things as you grow your team. It’s having that one great moment — a tipping point if you will. You can have that watershed moment and the light goes on, or you can continue to struggle until the light goes on.
GoLocalProv: John Rooke – Thinking Out Loud
With all due respect to St. John’s Moe Harkless, the Big East Rookie of the Year should be PC’s LaDontae Henton. I haven’t seen a better one. But it won’t be. The Friars just haven’t won enough…and alas, this is still a team game…
And is there a better point guard in the league than Vincent Council? Scoop Jardine from Syracuse? Jordan Theodore from Seton Hall? Those players will probably get the nod on post-season honors, but VC has carried his team on his back most of the way. That’s tough for a 6-2 guard to do in a physical league like the Big East, without much help…
Sports Chat Place: Providence Friars (13-15) at DePaul Blue Demons (11-16)
DePaul is 5-0 against the spread following a game which they didn’t cover, 6-13-1 against the spread in their last 20 Big East games, and 6-16-1 against the spread against a team with a losing record. Providence is 7-16 against the spread in their last 23 Big East games, 1-4 against the spread following a game which they didn’t cover, and 7-18 against the spread following a loss. The road team has covered four in a row in this series.
WHAT TO: BUY
Starting Bid: $179.99
WHAT TO: WATCH
Louisville vs. DePaul 2-18-12
DePaul men’s basketball video highlights vs. Marquette at Allstate Arena.
DePaul men’s basketball highlights vs. St. John’s at Allstate Arena.
DePaul men’s basketball highlights vs. USF at Allstate Arena.
DePaul men’s basketball video highlights vs. Georgetown at Allstate Arena.
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