"I don’t see a better team in the country. They are so much more improved that they were a year ago. They are more balanced on offense and are much, much better defensively."
That's Providence coach Keno Davis, spittin' truth. If that's true, I feel bad for him. He's got to play us twice in the next three weeks. The first go-round between the 21-1 Orange and the 12-9 Friars is tonight in the Dome.
Regardless of the records and rankings, Orange fans (and players) remember last year's battle in The Dunk, won by the Friars. Providence fans did their very best to rattle SU players. SU would love nothing more than to return the favor. The Friars haven't won in the Dome since '99 and the Orange will try to keep it that way.
The Friars are led by forward Jamine Peterson and guard Sharaud Curry. Peterson is the go-to scorer, averaging 18 PPG. Meanwhile Curry, along with Brian McKenzie and Marshon Brooks, can all shoot lights-out from time to time. As we know, this causes all sorts of issues for SU. (see Mike Waters' full scouting report for details).
Coming off the DePaul near-loss, the Orange have to be concerned about their propensity for digging huge holes. They've been able to dig themselves out against the Blue Demons and Hoyas, but sooner or later it's going to bite them in the tushy. Especially against a team that can keep up with the Orange in the scoring department.
The one thing SU should understand about PC is that the Friars can score. Their 81.3 points per game average ranks them second in the league in that category. PC is also draining nearly eight 3-pointers per game, also second-best among conference brethren.
But while the Friars can score, they have had trouble stopping opponents from doing the same. PC ranks last in the conference in defense. Opposing Big East teams are scoring 83 points against them. And teams are shooting at a .479 clip (No. 13 in the league) against the Friars.
For Syracuse, the initial push tonight will be to discourage the Friars’ inclination to score. And that, said Andy Rautins and Brandon Triche, will require that more attention is paid to the Providence shooters.