Then again, no one else is used to seeing it either, and that could be the magic of it. Providence is quietly building momentum, and their 87-79 win at Cincinnati is only making them hungry for more.
Make no mistake about it, winning at Cincinnati, is a big shot of confidence for this Friar team. It is evidence that maybe this time around the league will be a little different. Maybe the team will stay healthy this winter. Maybe they will keep improving as the year wears on. Maybe they can finally win more of the key games that have ended in disappointment in the past.
Then the reality of what the Friars are really up against in this league this year comes back into focus. There are nine teams currently in the Top 25, and not one of them has done it with smoke and mirrors. The Friars could perform as well as they have since 2004 and still not end up with a winning record in the Big East.
Still, the victory at Cincinnati was full of good signs that this team continues to improve well into January. Here are a handful of statistics that demonstrate that point:
• Randall Hanke scored 8 points and had 4 blocked shots in 16 minutes of play.
• On the road, the Friars committed only 13 turnovers vs. dishing 20 assists against an aggressive Cincinnati defense.
• The Friars shot 53.8 from the field for the game, including an impressive 50% from the three point line. (12-24)
• Brian McKenzie appears to be showing signs of emerging from his shooting woes. The junior was 3-6 from the field, including two three pointers.
• Providence was only out rebounded by 6 by the #1 offensive rebounding team in the nation. (a weakness coming off of last season)
• Weyinme Efejuku is quickly becoming consistent enough with his play to become a legitimate go to guy for the Friars. Efejuku had a tremendous line vs. Cincinnati: 18 pts, 7 asts, 5 rbs, 2 stls, and 0 turnovers. Impressive.
Coach Keno Davis obviously was most pleased with the Friars improved ball movement and shooting, which will be critical going forward if the Friars are going to continue to win Big East games, particularly on the road. "Earlier in the year, we were taking 3-point shots off the dribble", Davis said. "The ones I remember in this game came off the pass."
The win over Cincinnati certainly did not shock the world, but it served notice that this year's addition of the Friars may be a little tougher to beat than originally expected. That alone does not put you into the top 6-8 of the bruising Big East, but if they continue to play well, fans and observers around the league could soon stop saying "Show Me", and instead replace it with talk about "Way-Me". Time will tell.
Providence at Georgetown: Keys to the Game
1) Match Gtown's physicality: Georgetown's offense begins with their defense. The Hoyas have the 16th ranked defense in basketball, and they use it to wear down opponents while providing transition baskets for themselves. They also run an efficient modified Princeton half court set that can frustrate the opposition. Providence must play extremely physical in this game, as the Hoyas are bound to come out of the gate with great intensity. Providence has to match that physical intensity, especially in the first 10 minutes. While physical defensively, Georgetown has had rebounding problems at times. Providence winning the battle of the boards will help their cause mightily.
2) Contain Monroe: Greg Monroe is a 250-pound freshman from Helen Cox High School in Harvey, La., where he earned McDonald's All-America honors last year and was Mr. Basketball in the state of Louisiana each of the last two years. At Georgetown, he is arguably the best freshman in the nation, and is the centerpiece of the Georgetown offense. He's averaging over 13 points a game, but when Monroe is playing well, Georgetown is at its most dangerous, as he totally outplayed Hasheem Thabeet in a win at Uconn. While Dejuan Summers is Georgetown's most explosive scorer, it is the freshman Monroe who the Friars will have to worry about most on the block. Limit his touches near the basket.
3) Maintain Uptempo Pace: The Friars are at their best when they are rebounding the ball well and maintaining an uptempo pace. That pace provides transition 3's and layups, and also wears out the opponent. Georgetown has a strong starting five, but their bench is a bit thin, and the Hoyas could tire in the second half if the Friars can dictate the pace. The Friars will have great difficultly matching Georgetown in a slower half court game.
4) Bench Play: Keno Davis has spoken numerous times about the fact that the Friars' great advantage is the strength of their bench. The Friars really do not miss a beat when Marshon Brooks, Randall Hanke, and Brian McKenzie are knocking down shots like they were at Cincinnati. The Friars may have an advantage over Georgetown here, and need to exploit it.
5) More Weyinme: When Weyinme Efejuku has a game like he did Wednesday night against Cincinnati; Providence is a tough team to beat. Against the Bearcats, Efejuku played under control, attacked the basket with success, involved others with assists, made critical free throws, and kept his turnovers down. That type veteran leadership helped the entire team to be more comfortable in the half court set, and continued play from him like that will be critical for Providence to win big games at crunch time this year.
Game: Providence at Georgetown
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Time: 1:00 pm ET
TV: ESPNU - Radio: 103.7FM WEEI
Victory in Cincy/Georgetown Preview
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