Preview: Providence

The Golden Eagles head on the road, looking to extend their winning streak to four.

First year head coach Ed Cooley has one of the youngest teams in the country at his disposal, and at times it is quite evident on the court.

Providence has just three upperclassmen on their roster right now, in juniors Vincent Council and Bilal Dixon, and senior Chris Carter.

The Friars find themselves at 12-7 overall, having started the Big East season with a 1-5 record. Their only win came against the Louisville Cardinals in their last home game, on January 10th.

Cooley's team has played one of, if not the, toughest Big East schedules thus far playing No. 1 Syracuse twice, an upstart Seton Hall team at home, Georgetown and St. John's on the road, and the aforementioned Cardinals.

Providence has five players that score at least 10 points per game, with the sixth leading scorer at 3.4 points per game (Dixon), with three guards averaging at least 14 points per game.

Council runs the offense, and is the biggest part of the team's attack overall on the stat sheet. The guard missed the team's trip to Syracuse because he was suspended due to what was called "accountability issues" by Coach Cooley, but will return to the line-up for the game against Marquette.

Council averages 16.4 points per game (15.2 in five conference games), and also grabs 4.3 rebounds and dishes out a very impressive 7.1 assists. He has yet to find consistency shooting the ball though, shooting just 42.8 percent from the field on the season, including a 31.6 percent mark from three-point range. However, Council has shot 20 of 39 (51.3 percent) in his last three games.

Gerard Coleman averages 14.8 points, along with 5.6 rebounds per game. Coleman has been a fairly consistent scorer, failing to tally double digit points only once this season. Coleman shoots 44.6 percent from the field, but has only taken 19 three-pointers this year, meaning most of the damage he does is inside the arc.

Someone who does a lot of damage from outside the arc is sophomore guard Bryce Cotton. After averaging just four points last year, Cotton now is at 14.2 points, including shooting 40.6 percent from three-point land, along with 44.7 percent clip rom the field overall.

Cotton scored 27 points in the team's lone Big East win against Louisville, but outside of that game is averaging just 7.8 points per game in league play, shooting 14 of 45 (31.1%) in those other five games.

LaDontae Henton has been a beast on the boards for the Friars this year. The freshman, who is just six-feet-six-inches tall and 220lbs, is averaging 8.9 rebounds per game on the season to go along with his 12.7 points per game. While having trouble from the field (43.5%), Henton can extend the defense, attempting 52 three-pointers this year, shooting 32.7% from beyond the arc.

Henton is from Lansing, MI, and was not even ranked by Scout.com, so his revelation down low has been quite a surprise around the Big East.

The four aforementioned leading scorers of the Friars all average over 35 minutes per game for Cooley. There is not too much depth on this Friars team, with the new coach relying on four of his more experienced players to get through the season.

Henton's fellow big man, sophomore Kadeem Batts, has only played eight games this year, being suspended for the first 11 by Coach Cooley for "failing to meet his obligations as a student athlete" according to the school.

Batt averaged 7.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a freshman, and is averaging 10 points and 4.1 rebounds this season. Batts matched Cotton's 27 points against Louisville with 27 of his own and added 10 rebounds.

Dixon, a six-foot-nine junior, has actually seen his points and minutes per game decrease every year. He's gone from playing 24.6 minutes per game as a freshman to just 14.2 as a junior, and has seen his points decrease from 8.2 to 3.4. He's appeared in 18 of the team's 19 games this season.

Finishing the Friars' frontcourt is freshman Brice Kofane, who has played 17.5 minutes per game, while averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 points.

Keys to the Game

1) Defend the perimeter: With Council, Coleman, and Cotton, the Friars have three legitimate scoring threats, with all of them averaging at least 14 points per game. Guy like Darius Johnson-Odom and Junior Cadougan will play big roles defensively for Marquette for a change, as the Golden Eagles will have their hands full with the trio.

2) Avoid sloppy start: This is a winnable game, but as Louisville learned, Providence can be dangerous at home. It seems like Marquette takes a bit of time to get into their rhythm in conference play, so they need to just keep the game within reach (or jump out to a lead) early on, so they can pounce on the Friars later.


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