Before Vincent Council injured his hamstring on Saturday, the Friars were already in somewhat of a survival mode. The start of the schedule made it a little more manageable, but the waves of zombies looking to eat Friarown’s brains were always out there waiting. Now with Council sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Friars are in zombies-coming-from-every-direction-on-Hershel’s-farm survival mode. Tonight’s opponent Bryant is not a great team, but PC needs to figure out how to master wielding the shotgun without their leader if they want make it out of Puerto Rico later in the week without getting their insides ripped out and eaten.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: Monday, 7 PM
Opponent: Bryant (0-1)
Location: The Dunk
Ken Pom: Providence: #98, Bryant: #300
TeamRankings.com Projection: Providence 76.5, Bryant 61.0
Fun fact: Providence carries a 6 game winning streak against teams from Rhode Island. The last time PC lost was three years ago against URI.
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Ice: Bryant’s Kryptonite?: Bryce Cotton single-handedly saved Providence from an embarrasing home defeat against Bryant last year. He scored a career high 34 points, including 20 in the first half when every other Friar was struggling to score. Cotton will have a lot more to worry about tonight as the Friars will try to cope a full 40 minutes while not having a true point guard.
Different Ed Cooley Motivational Tactics: Two and half minutes into the game during their last meeting, Bryant led 4-0 and PC looked flat. Ed Cooley was not happy and benched all of the starters except Ice in favor of two reserves and two walk-ons (Chris Carter and Ted “Don’t Call Me a Walk-on” Bancroft”). Yeah, that’s not going to work so much tonight. Maybe Cooley can threaten players with benchings in future games when there is actually a bench. “I’VE HAD IT! You four are going to sit at the…18:40 minute mark of the 1st of the Seton Hall game in Newark…somebody write that down!”
Poor defense vs. wounded offense: Last year, Bryant finished 339th in adjusted defensive efficiency — only 6 teams in the nation were worse. Their two victories were the only two games in which they held their opponents to less than a point per possession. As everyone is fully aware, PC’s offense is in rough shape right now. Without their floor general Vincent Council, the offense has the potential to stall for long stretches as they did in the last seven minutes of the NJIT game. Bryant’s defense may be the perfect team on the schedule to play while the Friars are so short on depth, but they are a Bryce Cotton or LaDontae Henton off night away from struggling against anyone.
Alex Francis, Guard Him : Looking at last year’s stats, forward Alex Francis’ usage and efficiency numbers jumped right out. He had the 14th highest possession percentage (31.8%) in the nation last year, but had a very poor offensive rating of 90.0 due to having the 2nd most turnovers in the country. The Friars don’t really force a ton of miscues, so they will have to limit his effectiveness by forcing a lot of tough twos and not allowing him to get to the line. Interestingly enough, Francis only had 2 turnovers against PC last year while scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Brice Kofane’s defense tonight should play a big part here.
Bryant, For Three!: The Bulldogs heavily rely on the three pointer in their offense, but it’s not exactly a mutual relationship. Last season they finished 43rd in the nation in three point attempts, but only shot 30.2%. One game in this year and they are already up to their old tricks — Bryant took almost half of their shots from behind the arc (4-29 3FG, 62 total shots) against No. 1 ranked Indiana over the weekend. They might want to adjust their strategy to not settle for long jumpers against a team who basically won’t be able to take breathers on the bench.
Frankie Dobbs, Their Vincent Council: Hey, the Friars are facing somebody who actually plays as much as Council, Cotton, and Henton. Frankie Dobbs, the Bulldogs senior point guard, was ranked 5th in the nation in minutes percentage by playing in 94.5% of his team’s minutes. He scored 13.3 points per game last year, but was one of the aforementioned three point happy players — he had more attempts than Ice Cotton, but only had average success.
WHAT TO: MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER
Kris Dunn animated GIF making some dude fall to the ground. Dunn wil be here soon, folks.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Scouting the Bulldogs: Bryant opened the season with a 97-54 loss at No. 1 Indiana on November 9. Junior forward Alex Francis led the Bulldogs with 15 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Last season, Bryant posted a 2-26 mark overall, including a 1-15 record in the Northeast Conference. The Bulldogs were picked 10th of 12 teams in the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll. Bryant is led by Francis. He averaged 16.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, good enough to lead the team in both categories.
The Bulldogs also return starters Corey Maynard (11.4 ppg) and Frankie Dobbs (13.0 ppg). Head Coach Tim O’Shea also added redshirt-sophomore transfers Joe O’Shea (Holy Cross) and Dyami Starks (Columbia), who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
BryantBulldogs.com: Men’s hoops ready to play for postseason
“Being eligible for the postseason – it changes everything,” said O’Shea. “I don’t know if the average fan realizes just how big of a deal not having any possibility of postseason play is in college basketball. Everyone who goes on to play basketball at the college level dreams of playing in the NCAA tournament. That hasn’t been a possibility for four years, and now it is. To finally have that restriction lifted is a huge change, and we are all excited about having something to play for.”
The backcourt dominates the roster in 2012-13, with 10 of its 16 players fitting the bill. Half are veterans to the Bulldog lineup, including four senior guards returning to the bench. The group is led by captain and starting point guard Frankie Dobbs (Berea, Ohio), who has been the court general for Bryant since joining the team as a sophomore.
Dobbs brings great vision and basketball IQ, not to mention quick hands and a reliable shot, but this season, he won’t be expected to play the grinding league-high 38 minutes per game he averaged in 2011-12. That is due in great part to the activation of the squad’s most impactful additions, sophomore transfers Dyami Starks(Duluth, Minn.) and Joe O’Shea (Burlington, Vt.).
BryantBulldogs.com: Bryant men picked 10th in preseason poll
Entering its first season with Division I postseason eligibility in 2012-13, the Bryant University men’s basketball team was tabbed 10th in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as voted by the league’s head coaches and announced at the inaugural NEC Media Day at the Barclay’s Center in New York.
The Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – Northeast Conference
BRYANT: Despite winning only two games last season, things are starting to look up for the Bulldogs and fifth-year head coach Tim O’Shea. Junior Alex Francis remains the focal point. The 6-6 forward followed up his NEC Rookie of the Year campaign by averaging 17.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last year as a sophomore, both of which ranked in the top-10 in the NEC. In addition to Francis, the team returns double-digit scorers Frankie Dobbs (13.3 ppg) and Corey Maynard (11.4 ppg). The senior point guard Dobbs finished second in the league with 4.6 assists per game, while Maynard, a junior guard, hit 40 percent of his three-point attempts in 2011-12. Complementing those veterans are seven newcomers, headlined by Columbia transfer Dynami Starks. Another transfer, 6-4 guard Joe O’Shea (Holy Cross), can hit from long range. He is also coach O’Shea’s nephew. All in all, the Bulldogs appear poised to make a significant leap in the win column, although they may still be another year or two away from contending for the NEC crown.
WHAT TO: WATCH
Bryant Bulldogs Season Preview
Bryant had a stiff test in their opening game and lost big to No. 1 ranked Indiana
Bulldog Hoops in Indiana: Practice All-Access
Bryant at NEC ‘Social’ Media Day
Bryant’s Midnight Madness 2012
Men’s Hoops Photo Day Fun
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll be live Tweeting via @friarblog. You can also follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
Cox Sports (If you are in New England)
SNY (for those in NY/NJ)
WHERE TO: LISTEN
Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM