In a couple hours time the Bearcats travel to Providence to take on the Friars in a pivotal game for Cincinnati. In an attempt to give you, my dear readers, a primer on the relevant topics of Providence Basketball I have enlisted the services of Friar Basketball, one of the preeminent blogs for Friars Basketball. Things discussed are the phenomenal season that Marshon Brooks has had, the break neck pace the friars employ and the cauldron that Keno Davis appears to be coaching atop. A good time should be had by all.
1: Marshon Brooks has been nothing short of extraordinary this season.To me he is the most valuable player in the Big East by a landslide. He was good last year, but did anyone around the program expect him to come up with the season he has had so far?
Keno Davis talked of him being an NBA prospect in October and it seemed ridiculous at the time, but the kid was been terrific. He's playing on an island this year. He's score 20+ in 19 of the last 20 games and is asked to do so much for them offensively. It's too bad the Friars are down this year because he'd be one of the better stories in the country, not just the conference, if surrounded with better talent. He was a kid who got knocked as much as any who played at Providence over the last two years, but virtually everyone in Friartown has come clean with a mea culpa in regards to him. Great season on a bad team.
2: This is a probably a sore subject, but what the hell happened last night? The Friars have defended home court brilliantly for most of the season, but then they go out and lose to DePaul? I watched the game, but I haven't seen a ton of Providence this year so I don't have the faintest idea if they played to form or not.
It was brutal. You have to give credit to DePaul because they really controlled the game throughout, but Providence played with no defensive energy, specifically in the backcourt, and it cost them. Simply put, Providence isn't good enough to not play with a lot of effort and win in the Big East and last night they came out with none.
They'd been terrific at home, knocking off Villanova and Louisville, and leading Pitt by four with a minute to play, but just fell apart last night. They fell apart late last season, losing a program worst 11 games in a row to close the conference schedule and it will be interesting to see if Keno can get them to finish stronger this year. They are trending downward though.
3: This is the third year of the Keno Davis experience and the results have been mixed. If my math is correct, never a sure bet, he is 45-45, 17-32 in the Big East, as the Friars head coach. Is that good enough?
One thing Providence fans are is patient, and if they believed that things were going to turn around with a few impact recruits they'd be fine with a few down years to get there. What has really hurt Keno is the decommitments of three players: Naadir Tharpe (a verbal who is now headed to Kansas), Parade All American Joe Young (now a freshman playing for his dad at Houston), and Ricky Ledo, a top 15 junior. Give PC two of those three going forward and the current record is a lot more easy to stomach.
Unfortunately for Keno his record to date combined with few elite prospects joining the program have some saying he's on the hot seat here. Providence fans are not a happy group right now.
4: The one thing that jumped out at me watching the game last night was the pace of the game. kenpom.com ranks it 13th nationally. What your take on that is it more a matter of personnel, after all very few teams have big guys that can keep up with Brooks in transition.
It's not personnel, as much as the style that Davis is trying to incorporate. He wants to push the pace and create as many possessions as possible, a style of play that many here question. Can they outscore teams with lesser talent? Unlikely.
Keno has been pushing the fact that a fast pace attracts recruits, and he has managed to create offense with a team that is lacking in scoring options outside of Brooks, but they take a lot of bad shots, firing away at the first quasi-open look they see.
5: Any predictions?
I wish I had more opportunities to see Cincinnati. A week ago I liked PC's chances in this one, as they were 13-2 at home prior to the DePaul game, but after losing that one the season is on the brink of really slipping away. The Bearcats are playing for more right now, playing far better defense, and have a big advantage inside. It should be a close one, but I'm going to give it to Cincy, 76-73.
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