The season so far has been littered with adversity, so what’s one more game that happens to be against an in-state rival? We’re used to this, Friartown. Ed Cooley’s Fightin’ Friars just have to survive this one last game before the semester break to get a much needed two week vacation. Given the situation (despite who the opponents have been), it’s impressive that PC has a chance to go 7-2 as they wait to get Sidiki Johnson and Kris Dunn back for the 2nd semester. Tonight, they will face the Danny Hurley led Rams for the first time in the rivalry.
UPDATE: Kris Dunn is definitely not playing according to Kevin McNamara and Gavin Keefe. Bryce Cotton looks like he will give it a go.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Opponent: Rhode Island (2-6)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: Providence -6
Ken Pom: Providence: #74, Rhode Island: #217
TeamRankings.com Projection: Providence 69.7, URI 62.8
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
If Ice is Warm: All week there have been numerous reports that Bryce Cotton was going to be a questionable decision. Vin Parise tweeted out this morning that Ed Cooley said he was actually “very, very questionable”. Sounds like it’s going to come down to the wire, so look to see what happens in warmups (if he even makes it out there).
More Bricklayers at the Dunk: So far this season the mighty NJIT Highlanders hold the highest shooting percentage against the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center with 36.7%. Rhode Island will look to avoid becoming the 8th PC opponent to shoot below 40%, a feat they themselves have only accomplished in half of their games so far. The Rams’ effective field goal percentage after 8 games sits at 43.4%, ranked 296th in the country. Hurley’s squad gets almost a third of their points by way of the three, and have been shooting much better from behind the arc over the last three games. The Sexy Six will have to defend the perimeter and force URI into tough two’s — The Rams shoot only 40.4% in their two point shots. Or, Ed Cooley can roll the dice and see if the trend of facing awful three point shooting continues — PC opponents are 7 for their last 60 (11.6%) from behind the arc.
Josh Fortune’s Handle: If URI watched the end of the Mississippi State game, they saw what heavy pressure can do to this Friars team short on ball handlers and bodies overall. Fortune is most likely going to have to play 40 minutes at the point again, so anything under 5 or 6 turnovers would probably be considered a smashing success. Like the Penn State game, Cooley is going to want to bring the game to crawl. Fortune will have to make sure he can break the press and get Kadeem the ball inside as much as possible.
Munford and Sons: Xavier Munford is leading the A-10 in scoring with 18.9 points per game, but he’s 9th in the entire nation in shots taken. Hey Munford, Greedy Peterson called, he wants his offensive strategy back! Munford is top 50 in possession percentage at 30.3%, but only has a 98.5 offensive rating mostly due to a couple of horrendously bad shooting games early in the season. Over the last three games he’s scored 33, 24, and 25 points. Let’s see if he can continue that with Ted Bancroft in his face for 40 minutes. FORTY MINUTES OF WHITE LIGHTNING!
Discipline will Win: With most likely 6 available players, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the Friars are going to need to stay out of foul trouble. When Cotton was out against Penn State in Puerto Rico, PC was a couple of fouls away from having to play with 4 players. Kadeem Batts is really the key here, as he needs to stay out on the court for as much as possible. A couple of quick fouls early can really derail Cooley’s likely gameplan of giving Batts free reign offensively. URI has depth issues as well, as they run 4 guys who play over 30 minutes a game. One of those is forward Nikola Malesevic, who has already fouled out in three games this year.
WHAT TO: LOOK AT
I don’t remember making this last year, but it works.
COTTON IS ON THE GAME TICKET. Basketball Gods, you are quite hilarious sometimes.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Scouting the Rams: URI enters Thursday’s game versus the Friars with a 2-6 mark. In the team’s most recent game, the Rams defeated Vermont at the Ryan Center, 76-66, on December 1. First year Head Coach Danny Hurley’s squad is led on of ense by 6-2 junior guard Xavier Munford. He is averaging 18.9 ppg. Senior forward Ryan Brooks is leading the team in rebounding
Today’s Theme: Rhody’s lack of playing experience in the Providence Series
Seniors Ryan Brooks and Nikola Malesevic are the only two Rams that have played in more than one URI/PC game.
Graduate transfer Alwayne Bigby faced Providence twice while at Northeastern, averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 boards.
Only Malesevic (10 points, Dec. 4, 2010) and Mike Powell (13 points, Dec. 22, 2011) have tallied double-figures in a single game against Providence.
Providence Journal: Hurley well prepared for first taste of in-state rivalry
Example A came Sunday afternoon at his son’s CYO game at Rhode Island School for the Deaf. As he watched, both PC and URI fans came by to either wish him ill or a bit of luck.
“I know it’s not taken to that (Duke) extreme here, but you still get a sense of it from basketball people. They tell us that they know we’re not going to be as successful this year as we will be down the line, but try and take care of this (PC) game. That’s the one that matters.”
GoLocalProv: PC-URI rivalry still runs deep
The rivalry has now ramped up to include a true home-and-home each year, as PC returned to Kingston in 2003 for the first time in 31 years. And until last year, in 2011, the Friars had not been able to beat URI on their Ryan Center floor. This year, Rhody will try to return the favor at the Dunk against a depleted PC roster, thanks to injuries and eligibility issues.
No matter, however. For the players, it might be just another game on the schedule…although once they’ve been through a PC-URI game, even out-of-staters will admit to a “playoff” type of atmosphere, at the least. PC’s Ed Cooley has had the unique distinction of going through this game as a coach on both sides of the floor, having been an assistant under former URI coach Al Skinner. New Rhody coach Dan Hurley will get his introduction to the rivalry Thursday night.
GoLocalProv: PC-URI Rivalry Has Lost Some Of Its Sizzle
Yes, the diehard fans remain on board, but the casual fan no longer shows up at the Dunk or the Ryan Center because it has been quite some time since either program has enjoyed any type of success.
We’re going on 9 years since the Friars last played in the NCAA Tournament and a whopping 13+ years since the Rams last appeared in the Big Dance. That’s too long of a drought.
As a result, there is no longer quite the buzz for this intrastate rivalry game that there once was.
Friars coach Ed Cooley knew how great this rivalry was having grown up in Providence. URI head coach Dan Hurley and his brother Bobby will be exposed to it for the first time Thursday night.
Unfortunately, the Hurley’s may be a bit disappointed this year, but things should get better starting next season.
Pawtucket Times: Dan Hurley to get up close with PC-URI rivalry
“We have close to 50,000 living alumni in the state and Providence obviously has tremendous support,” said Hurley. “I got the vibe from fans [regarding the spice surrounding the state’s most important annual sporting event] back in April. Obviously it’s a game that’s important to the state, one featuring two teams that are going to play with a lot of intensity.
“A lot of stuff goes out the window when you play rivals,” Hurley continued.
Bob Walsh Blog: PC vs. URI
What can you do to bring the juice back? I’m a believer that the two teams should play twice. I love Kevin McNamara’s idea of incorporating a banquet hosted by each team before their home game attended by the coaching staffs, the teams, and all of the fans. Let the coaches get up and speak about their teams. Pick a charity at each school and sell tickets for the banquet, and donate the money to the charity. Each school can run a food drive at their home game and collect for the food bank. The two schools could “compete” with each other each year to see who can raise the most money or donate the most food. Pick a couple of Saturday’s and keep the games on those days every year – one after Thanksgiving, one just after Christmas? You could create a real buzz around the games ever year, and do a great thing for local charities at the same time. And you could make the rivalry really special again, and that would be great for everyone.
College Chalk Talk: Friars, Rams meet for 125th time
With Cotton likely out or (if he plays) limited, Batts becomes even more of a focal point of the offense than he’s already been in the Friars’ first eight games. The big fella has averaged 17 points and a shade over eight boards per contest. One of the many areas of weakness for this year’s URI team is its lack of an inside presence on both ends of the floor. Players like Eugene Teague (Seton Hall) and Brandon Goode (7-foot center at Norfolk State) have enjoyed big games against URI… and you can bet Providence head coach Ed Cooley is well aware. Look for PC to pound the ball inside early and often and for the Friars’ junior big man to be the beneficiary in a big way.
College Basketball Talk: Danny Hurley has Rhode Island heading in the right direction
Forget, for a second, the fact that the Rams are coming off of a season where they managed to win just seven games, because that would just be too obvious. Maybe the fact that he’s coaching a team that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since people were still concerned about Y2K is a good indicator. Or how about the fact that the Rams only bring back four players from last year’s rotation — which managed to win just seven games, remember — two of whom missed a combined 30 games. Should I even mention that Hurley has just eight scholarship players eligible this season?
Friar Basketball: Remembering Higher Stakes in the PC/URI Rivalry
We may not be far away from this game meaning what it once did. Both Ed Cooley and Dan Hurley have re-energized their fanbases in large part because they’ve been able to overhaul their respective rosters with the type of talent not seen in the Ocean State in some time.
But the returning Rams may have needed a different voice, according to Hurley and the players.
“Coach Baron was tough on us,” said senior guard Andre Malone. “But Coach Hurley is more in-your-face and gets in the drill with you. He’s not scared to let go of his feelings. Coach Baron was a bit more laid-back. He was on the sideline more pushing us, [while] Coach Hurley is on the court and in our faces.”
A-10 Preseason Poll
1. Saint Joseph’s (11)
2. Saint Louis (10)
3. VCU (3)
4. Temple (2)
5. Massachusetts (2)
6. Butler (2)
7. La Salle
11. Saint Bonaventure
13. George Washington
15. Rhode Island
WHAT TO: WATCH
Rhody Men’s Basketball heads up to PC on Thursday, December 6 at 7pm at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
Dan Hurley Introduced as Head Coach of URI Men’s Basketball team
Dan & Bobby Hurley Play Horse – 2012-13 Rhode Island Basketball
#CAAHoops TV Recap — George Mason 55, Rhode Island 52
Highlights from VT’s 69-50 win over URI
Coach Tom Penders on Rhode Island Rams TV
Head coach Dan Hurley and junior guard Xavier Munford talk about the 58-54 loss at home to George Mason
URI Men’s Basketball Head Coach Danny Hurley talks about the new recruits
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll be missing the game due to a work obligation, so no updates from me. You can follow the #pcbb hashtag instead!
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN