Two years ago at the BIG EAST Tournament, I did something I normally don’t do when attending sporting events. After a season of terrible defense under Keno Davis coupled with a Seton Hall lead that reached 29 points in the 2nd half, my buddies and I bolted from Madison Square Garden with about 6 minutes left and the Friars down 20. We needed to drown our sorrows at a quicker pace, and walking up and down all those stairs each time to pay for $10 beers wasn’t going to cut it. Shortly thereafter, we watched a Duke Mondy potential game-tying three pointer sail through the air, with the possibility creating one of the worst regretful decisions I could make as a sports fan. The shot would hit the rim and Providence would lose, but would it have made a difference if it went in and the Friars were able to win in overtime (other than me wanting to throw myself in front of a bus on 5th ave for leaving the game)? The utter lack of defense was driving the team to an inevitable downward spiral, and there was surely another 109-106 loss lurking in the next game.
This season the Friars have the same amount of conference wins as those ill-fated PC teams, but Ed Cooley is setting the foundation of the program with a better brand of basketball. A win tonight against Seton Hall (a team that needs a win or two to get into the NCAA Tournament) would be another solid brick for Cooley’s Providence College Basketball team.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM EST
Opponent: Seton Hall (19-11, 8-10)
Location: Madison Square Garden
Spread: Seton Hall -5.5
ESPN Accuscore: Seton Hall 70.3, Providence 63.3 (Seton Hall wins 71.1% of over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Seton Hall 72, Providence 66
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Ed Cooley’s Adjustments: Seton Hall has not fared well this year in rematch games. The three teams the Pirates had to play twice (UConn, Rutgers, and DePaul) all won the 2nd game in the series after losing the first. Yes two of those three losses were on the road (Connecticut and DePaul), but one of them was DePaul. If Ed Cooley is going to make any adjustments based on their first meeting, it will certainly be centered around Fuquan Edwin not getting any open looks on the perimeter. So if the Friars can contain him and inadvertently poke Herb Pope in the eye again, they’re golden!
Theodore vs. Council II: Their numbers are incredibly similar overall this season, but Vincent Council had the better offensive game when the teams first met (23 points, 9-17 shooting versus Jordan Theodore’s 14 points on 4-14). They have been playing against each other since kindergarten according to CoxSports, so another match-up this time in the BIG EAST Tournament will surely be entertaining to watch. Vincent Council might play with a chip on his shoulder considering Theodore was picked 1 team ahead of him on the 2nd All-BIG EAST Team. However, that probably had more to do with the success Seton Hall has had a team versus the performance of each talented point guard. Regardless, Theodore’s play and how Council responds is a huge key to the game.
Rebounding Friars: In the first matchup the Hall killed the Friars on the offensive glass, grabbing 44% of their own misses versus the Friars 22.9%. Of the 20 offensive rebounds the Pirates pulled down, half of them were from players who may either miss the game or are banged up heading into Tuesday – Herb Pope (5 offensive boards, will play but has toe issues), Aaron Geramipoor (4 ORB, not expected to play), and Aaron Crosby (1, questionable with flu). PC has looked pretty good on the glass over the last several games (well except for Jack Cooley of course), so combined with the health of Seton Hall’s bigs this could be a huge factor.
Bilal, Jersey Boy: As a native of New Jersey, Bilal Dixon seems to bring it when facing one of the Jersey schools, especially Seton Hall. His best game this season was against Rutgers (18 points, 10 rebounds), and he had a good all around performance against the Hall with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Last season he had a season high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds against the Pirates as well. When PC played SHU in the last game of the season two years ago, Dixon pulled down NINETEEN rebounds to go along with 11 points. In that next game in which the Friars had to play them again in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament, Bilal had another double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. In 5 career games versus Seton Hall, Dixon is averaging 12.6 points, and 9.8 rebounds.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Friars vs. Seton Hall At The BIG EAST Tourney: Providence has posted a 2-4 mark all time versus Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Tournament. The last time the Friars faced Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Tournament, the Pirates defeated the Friars, 109-106, on March 9, 2010. Providence’s last win over the Pirates in the BIG EAST Tourney was a 77-75 win on March 6, 1985.
Scouting The Pirates: Seton Hall has posted a 19-11 mark overall and an 8-10 record in BIG EAST play. The Pirates finished tied for ninth in league standings and are the 10th seed in the Tournament. In their most recent game, the Pirates were defeated at DePaul, 86-58, on March 3. Seton Hall is led by senior forward Herb Pope. He is second on the team in scoring (15.3 ppg) and first in rebound- ing (10.3 rpg). Senior guard Jordan Theodore also is having a strong season. He leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg). He also is second in the league in assists (6.7 apg).
“I used the analogy from the movie ‘The Replacements,’ ” Willard admitted Monday morning. “It feels like we’re in quicksand. We’re fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting. It’s not like we didn’t come out ready. We’re fighting and it seems like the more things we tried to do — the more we tried to fight — the more we got stuck. And we started sinking.”
Willard watched his team as they absorbed the message. Yes, they had a tournament at-large bid all but sewn up for the first time in six years before losing to Rutgers, and then getting blown out at last-place DePaul on Saturday. And yes, they missed out on the first-round bye in the Big East Tournament, which gets under way at Madison Square Garden today, with the Pirates facing Providence in the opening round tonight. But they had not gone under yet.
This is where it gets murky. All Seton Hall had to do was beat DePaul — by 1 or 100 — on Saturday and the ticket was all but punched. Now not only did the Pirates lose, but they lost in embarrassing fashion to the worst team in the Big East. Working in its favor at this point is nothing except the fact that the bubble in general is so soft that there aren’t a lot of teams with better resumes than Seton Hall. But here’s the two-fold problem: 1) Seton Hall lost so early in the process of Championship Week, that a few bid-thieves here and there, soon the Pirates are on the outside looking in; and 2) It slides the Pirates to last among the Big East bubble teams, meaning that Seton Hall pretty much has to make it to Thursday at the Big East Tournament to get back into calmer waters.
Sun Chronicle: Quite a rookie campaign for Friars’ Henton
Henton will be making his MSG debut, and even for a kid from Michigan, “it’s a dream come true. Everyone knows the Big East is where it’s at.”
Henton is where he’s at, the Friars’ Big East Rookie of the Year candidate.
Pawtucket Times: Confident Friars ready to take center stage in NYC
“We wanted to play Seton Hall,” remarked Council after Ed Cooley’s PC club participated in Monday’s pre-Big Apple practice session at Alumni Hall. “We already beat Louisville [the Friars would face Rick Pitino’s Cardinals on Wednesday should they get past their first-round foe on Tuesday night]. If we win those two games, we get a tough Marquette team on Thursday.”
Connecticut Post: Chris Elsberry: Cooley has Providence on right track
“It may not show in our record but we’ve come a long way as a program,” Cooley said. “(Before the UConn game on Feb. 28) \I showed the team some video of our (exhibition) game against Assumption. I showed them a lot of little things that we weren’t doing then that we’re doing now. Maturity things. Then I showed them video of our (recent) game against DePaul, our precision down the stretch, our paying attention to detail. I really think our program has grown from Assumption to DePaul and I told our players just to continue to trust one another.”
Friar Basketball: BET Preview: A Glance at Seton Hall, PC in 7 Against the Pirates
Offensively, the two teams mirror each other. Both shot 36.2% from three point range this season, both average 66 possessions per game, and each makes an average of 24 field goals.
Assists per game is nearly identical, with Providence dishing out 13.7 per versus the Hall’s 14.1. PC’s assist to turnover ratio is +1.12, while Seton Hall’s is +1.13.
So, where are the differences? Seton Hall takes nearly 20 three pointers a game, almost seven more than the Friars, who seemingly relied on the deep ball through the course of the season to generate offense. When the Pirates are shooting well they are good enough to light up the best defensive team in the Big East, as they did against Georgetown a little over a week ago.
South Orange Juice: Seton Hall Basketball: Pirates Ailing on Eve of Big East Tournament Opener
Today, we learned that Aaron Cosby is battling the flu. He’ll be a game-time decision tomorrow evening, but I’m hearing, “it is not looking good.” Later in the afternoon, Herb Pope was spotted at the University’s Recreation Center, sporting an aircast walking boot, nursing a toe injury he sustained at the end of the first half on Saturday. Pope was able to play through the pain in the second half against DePaul. One source tells me, he’s “absolutely 100%” playing tomorrow, while another expects him to play, but it’s, “still too early to know.”
SB Nation New York: Big East Tournament 2012: Seton Hall Basketball Preview
Playing For: An NCAA Tournament Berth
After beating Georgetown at home on Feb. 21 to get to .500 in league play, the Pirates had their destiny in their hands. Wrap up wins against Rutgers and DePaul, and the Pirates would be dancing for the first time since the 2005-06 season. However, they collapsed with two bad losses to bottom feeders, and now they need to beat Providence in the first round on Tuesday to have a shot.
Seton Hall is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games overall, 8-22 against the spread in their last 30 neutral site games, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against a team with a losing record. Providence is 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games overall, 8-18 against the spread following a loss, and 5-1 against the spread following a cover. The favorite has covered in four of the last five meetings of these two.
Seton Hall is favored but they haven’t played like they should be favored over anyone.
WHAT TO: DREAM FOR
Wikipedia: 1994 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament
WHAT TO: BUY
94-95 SIGNATURE ROOKIE RC AUTO MICHAEL SMITH PROVIDENCE
WHAT TO: WATCH
Monday night, March 5 from PJ Clarke’s in New York City, Coach Cooley and assistant coach Brian Blaney gave Cox Sports a scouting report for tomorrow’s first round Big East Tournament matchup with the Seton Hall Pirates.
Full game video of PC/Seton Hall from early January.
Or if you just want highlights..
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez after his team’s win over Providence in the 2010 Big East tournament
DePaul wins third Big East game on senior night by blowing out Seton Hall and bursting their NCAA bubble.
DePaul freshman Jamee “Davy” Crockett dunks on Seton Hall in a rout.
Rutgers defeats Seton Hall in OT
Seton Hall defeats No. 8 Georgetown: court stormer gets wrecked by security
Seton Hall students try to storm the court
Kevin Willard on Seton Hall’s success
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