The near two week semester break was much needed time off for Ed Cooley’s Fightin’ Friars. However, Friartown has been itching for some basketball, especially basketball that involves the much anticipated PC debuts of Kris Dunn and Sidiki Johnson. At least there were some things that kept us busy during this whole time, like you know, the BIG EAST imploding and PC actually being involved in some positive conference realignment news for the first time ever. Now that we know what the Catholic 7 generally want to do, all we can do is sit back and wait to see how everything unfolds over the next year. What we don’t have to wait for? Ed Cooley’s basketball team continuing to take full shape. Against Colgate tonight, the Friars will ease into their newfound depth situation as they play their first of three games before grueling BIG EAST play starts.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Opponent: Colgate (3-7)
Location: The Dunk
Ken Pom: Providence: #71, Colgate: #281
TeamRankings.com Projection: Providence 75.6, Colgate 61.9
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Kris Dunn: Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn Kris Dunn. That is all.
Sidiki’s Rust: Sidiki Johnson is playing in his first real game in exactly 13 months since logging two whole minutes against St. John’s at the Garden (I was there!) while playing for Arizona last year. I expect Sidiki to come out hitting the boards hard (Colgate is not a particularly great rebounding team), but the offense will probably show up slowly as he gets acclimated to the real thing. Don’t discount what he’s been able to accomplish in practice though against the suits.
A Packed Dunk: The students are not on campus because of the break, but all of New London might be in attendance to see Kris Dunn make his collegiate debut. When I went on Ticketmaster the other day, the game came up in the first slot as “Hottest Tickets” since my computer’s location is set to Connecticut because of work. Who would have thought a game against Colgate could be so highly anticipated.
An Opponent That Can Actually Shoot Threes??: The last four Friar opponents (Fairfield, Holy Cross, Mississippi State, URI) combined to shoot 10-78 (12.8%). Colgate is a team that loves to put up long range shots (216 attempts, 53rd in the nation) and so far have had tremendous success from three. The Raiders are shooting 37.3% on the season, good for 12th in the country. The Friars are going to have to prevent two Colgate players especially from getting open looks – Murphy Burnatowksi has hit 42.9% (27-63) of his three pointers, while Pat Moore is a ridiculous 26-54 (48.1%).
Few 2nd Chances for Colgate: The Raiders better hope their threes are falling, because they don’t tend to get many 2nd chance opportunities. Colgate’s 23% offensive rebounding percentage is ranked 330th (out of 347). Murphy Burnatowski leads the team with 16 offensive rebounds (in 10 games played), and only two other players have reached double digits total this season. Ted Bancroft HAS THIRTEEN.
Few Mistakes All Around: After playing with no point guard (and at times a missing or hobbled Ice Cotton) for most of the season, PC couldn’t face a better opponent while getting Kris Dunn out on the court. Colgate has one of the worst turnover rates in the country (12.5%) due to their inability to generate steals. The Raiders are also pretty careful with the ball, so there will likely be few opportunities for both teams with points off turnovers.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Scouting the Red Raiders: Colgate enters Tuesday’s game versus the Friars with a 3-7 mark. In the team’s most recent game, the Red Raiders were defeated by Albany in Hamilton, N.Y., 67-61, on December 8. The squad is led on of ense by 6-7 senior forward Murphy Burnatowski. He is averaging 16.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Senior forward Brandon James also is having a strong season. He leads the team in rebounding (6.4 ppg) and is third in scoring (7.9 ppg).
Providence Journal: Friars set to welcome Dunn, Johnson on Tuesday
“They’re both making a lot of mistakes right now,” Cooley said, “but I appreciate their effort and their athleticism and size are going to give us a totally different look than what we’ve seen.”
Woonsocket Call: PC Friars welcome fresh faces Dunn, Johnson with open arms
“Kris hasn’t played in college yet, so I’m going to have to live with a lot of his mistakes he had in high school in order for him to learn what he has to do,” Cooley noted. “His natural talent; he’s a God-gifted athlete and that’s what I’m going to coach – his strengths versus his weaknesses.”
In essence, Johnson is in the same boat as Dunn as far as college-playing experience goes. The forward logged a grand total of nine minutes in four games with Arizona in 2011 before transferring, a paltry sum that suggests that there’s some rust in need of knocking off. The opportunity to do just that figures to come right away as Cooley plans to play Johnson and fellow big man Kadeem Batts simultaneously, the hope being that the two of them can shore up the rebounding deficiencies that Cooley saw sprout from time-to-time during the season’s first nine contests.
“Sidiki is really imposing around the basket. Hopefully we become a better rebounding team, especially in our zone when we’re not buffaloed on the backside,” said Cooley. “Sidiki and Kadeem are two big behemoths that we’re going to need.”
If everything works out, the stars align and the pieces all come together, Colgate could make dramatic improvement in Langel’s second season.
“Hopefully we will be more understanding of the game plan and what we are trying to do. Hopefully we can take some steps forward with this group,” Langel said. “I expect us to be a little better in year two.”
Given that blizzards seem to be as close as Colgate has come in recent winters to perfect storms, “a little better” is probably a realistic goal.
There is help on the way. In addition to Ramon and Sherman-Newsome, Langel’s first real recruiting class also includes a pair of transfers who will sit this one out.
For now, though, there are just too many questions, and too little margin for error, to expect the Raiders to emerge as contenders this season. Even a top-four finish and a first round home game in the Patriot League tournament would seem to be a stretch.
1. Lehigh (12 first-place votes), 96 points
2. Bucknell (4), 88
3. American, 66
4. Holy Cross, 55
6. Army, 47
7. Colgate, 26
8. Navy 15
The Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – Patriot League
COLGATE: Scoring points wasn’t exactly a skill that Colgate demonstrated with great regularity last season, in fact the team averaged just 63.1 ppg and gave up 73.6 ppg. That 10.5 ppg negative scoring margin ranked as one of the worst in the nation last season and is something that second-year head coach Matt Langel really has to address if the Raiders are to keep from falling into the cellar in the Patriot League this year. In 2011-12, Colgate didn’t have a single player average double digits in the scoring column, although coming in just under the wire was Pat Moore with his 9.9 ppg stemming from 43.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Mitch Rolls produced 8.6 ppg as he shot 43.8 percent effort from behind the three-point line, which means Colgate has a pair of perimeter shooters who are capable of knocking down big baskets when given the chance. While those two handle the action on the outside, Nick Pascale (6.4 ppg) will be asked to work even harder on the inside after he led the team in rebounding with a mere 4.8 boards per outing. Even though the Raiders didn’t have a singularly dominant man on the glass a year ago, the team was still only beaten by just 1.1 rebounds per game, but they won’t be able to get away without hitting the glass consistently this year. Another area that has to be of concern for Colgate is on defense where the club accounted for just 3.7 steals per game to rank last among the 338 teams that the NCAA follows religiously at the Division I level.
WHAT TO: WATCH
This may or may not be the Colgate head coach
The Cornell men’s basketball team highlights in a 70-63 win over Colgate on Dec. 1, 2012 at Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y.
St. Francis vs. Colgate highlights. Colgate won 85-76.
Southerland, Syracuse Rout Colgate
Illinois Basketball Highlights vs Colgate 11/9
Marquette Opens Season With Win Over Colgate
2012-13 Patriot League Men’s Basketball Media Day: Colgate coach Matt Langel
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll be live tweeting @friarblog. You can also follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN