Friar Week

Who would have guessed that with eight games left in the season the Friars would have to rely on an automatic bid to have any chance of making the NCAA tournament? With an 0-8 mark in conference play and 11 straight Big East losses dating back to the end of last season the NIT is looking unlikely. The 1999-2000 season was ugly, but this year has been the worst of Tim Welsh's Providence tenure.

Some teams will themselves to win, others find ways to lose. These Friars have found different ways to lose. They were hammered on the boards at the Conte Forum, turned the ball over 30 times against Villanova, an 11 point second half lead at home against BC was squandered, they did not start to defend against West Virginia until it was too late, and the list goes on and on.

0-8 with a First Team All American returning. With each passing game you expect the Friars to come out with a sense of urgency, perhaps stemming from embarassment, but this year's team appears to be rolling over and playing dead.

Say what you will about inexperience, but there are few teams in college basketball that had an All American returning to their lineup as well as a point guard who has started for two seasons. This is more about playing with swagger and determination, or more accurately a lack of either.

The Friars have allowed their opponents to set the tone in every game they have played. Providence has played four games against top 10 teams, Boston College twice, Wake Forest and then Syracuse. The Friars had double digit leads in the second half in both games against BC, trailed by only 4 with three minutes to go against Wake and had a chance to take out the Orange in the final two minutes. Is there any question that if they played at that level against the likes of West Virginia, Rutgers and even Villanova that they would still be winless at this point?

Its all about effort and the supporters of Providence College basketball deserve to at least see that.

The Week to Come:

Wednesday vs West Virginia. This is a winnable game for a Friars team that is overdue for one. The last five minutes of their contest against the Mountaineers at the Dunk proved that a little pressure can go a long way against a team that prefers to pass the ball around the perimeter against a zone and then toss up threes. Welsh took too long to leave a zone that was getting devoured by WVU in the first meeting and the guess here is that he goes man to man earlier, if not for the entire game on Wednesday. Coming off of a big win over Pitt on Saturday night means West Virginia is ripe for defeat, but the prediction here is that the Friars come out flat again and come up short again.

West Virginia wins 77-70.

Sunday vs Rutgers. Providence will not see 0-10. Ryan Gomes had perhaps the worst game of his career at the RAC and PC still almost pulled that one out. Rutgers got a great effort from Ollie Bailey in the last meeting, but this time he and Gomes do a little role reversal. Providence takes out the frustration of nine straight conference losses and wins big.

Providence wins 82-65.

Player to watch: Jeff Parmer. The freshman is starting to get some playing time and looks to be a nice scoring option off of the bench. Parmer has been knocking down some outside shots and has an underrated and under-utilized post game and it will be interesting to see how he develops over the rest of the season.

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