Going through the motions in the waning moments of the Providence Friars (17-11, 7-8) game against Creighton in the back of my Kyron Cartwright was due for a game-winning bucket. Cartwright and the Friars had come up short several times this year in the final minute with the game on the line. Against Seton Hall two weeks ago Kyron Cartwright missed a jumper that would’ve sent the game to a second overtime resulting in a 72-70 defeat. Prior to that, who could forget the game at DePaul where Cartwright’s coast-to-coast layup some how didn’t go down, causing the Friars to lose 64-63. On Wednesday night in Omaha, the Friars were faced with a similar situation down by 1 with one possession left. Rodney Bullock found an open Emit Holt, who dished it off to Isaiah Jackson as the defense collapsed. Jackson then drove to the hoop, only to be denied by a Creighton defender, so he kicked it to Cartwright. Kyron proceeded to drill the game winning three-pointer from the parking lot. As happy as I was for a massive Friar victory, I was even more elated for Cartwright. The guy plays too damn hard to not let him come through in one of those situations. I mention all this because what gets lost in the fray is Cartwright’s big shot making in the Friars victory over Marquette.
The Marquette Golden Eagles (17-10, 8-7) come to the Dunk Saturday afternoon looking to avenge their loss at the hands of the Friars, who won their first game ever at Marquette, back in January. Kyron Cartwright hit a cocky step-back three-pointer to give PC a 7-point lead with 1:33 left to play. Of course in typical Friar fashion Marquette was able to hit miracle thee-point and-1 shots and have the last possession with a chance to win. Rodney Bullock was able to block Marquette’s first attempt out of bounds, then luckily for the Friars Katin Reinhardt’s shot was off line and the Friars got the 79-78 win. The game on Saturday is a colossal matchup between two teams firmly on the bubble. Speaking of bubble, do any of you remember the Nintendo game Bubble Bobble? It was a game where two baby dragons burst bubbles and I was obsessed with it when I was little (I’m still short but you get the idea), it’s starting to all make sense. Anyways the PC Marquette game also has major implications in terms of seeding for the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles currently are in 5th place at 8-7 and the Friars are tied in 6th with a 7-8 record. If the Friars were to win Saturday not only would they be 8-8 like Marquette but they’d own the tiebreaker over them as well. Depending on how things shakeout this weekend the Friars could be tied for 4th place come Sunday night. So this is clearly a mammoth game, and I don’t need to tell you that because the Dunk is SOLD OUT, so with that here are my keys to the game.
Keys to the Game
- Take Care of the Basketball– The sneaky key to the Friars three-game winning streak has been their ability to take care of the basketball. In the three game winning streak the Friars have only committed 29 turnovers (If you extrapolate that 3 game average on the season the Friars would be #2 in the country in the category). It takes no mad scientist to say taking care of the ball is a good recipe for winning basketball but its especially important against a high-octane offense like Marquette. The Golden Eagles are still averaging 82.5 ppg so you take care of the ball you limit their possessions.
- At Least Match their 3pt %– In the first matchup at Marquette the Friars shot a scorching clip of 55% from 3 (11/20), as Marquette shot 40% (10/25). While I don’t expect the Friars to match their original percentage if they can have any percentage advantage in three-point category there is no way they lose. Marquette will rip more treys then the Friars and the Friars wont take single digit attempts, so you beat them there you most likely beat them in the game. The Friars three-point D was massive in their first win, has been solid all year and it must be the same Saturday.
- Hot Rod Needs to Stay Hot– While Rodney Bullock hasn’t necessarily lit the world on fire lately, he has scored double figures in his last four games (14.3 ppg). There is no coincidence the Friars are 3-1 during that stretch with the only loss being by a bucket. In a truly rare occasion the victory over Marquette only saw him score 8 points. As a matter of fact the Friars haven’t won a Big East game where Rodney wasn’t in double figures, and only two games they’ve won on the season when he hasn’t gotten double digits (vs Maine and Wagner… come on now lets be real). Eddie needs to get Rodney involved early and often.
So in the preview of the first game between these two teams I said the only chance the Friars had was if Marquette had a hangover from their Nova win. So while Marquette definitely wasn’t sharp against the Friars, a lot of credit has to be given to the visitors for playing a great. If there is one thing I know Coach Woj will remind his team of the last meeting and have his boys ready to play. While that’s all great and dandy I don’t think it will matter. The fact that the game is at 4pm may be the biggest factor in the game. The last 4pm was the Butler game, the atmosphere was electric and at that point the Friars were barely sniffing the bubble. The 4pm tip is crucial because it gives myself and other Friar fans a little extra time at Trinity Brewhouse. As TB12 always says the later starts at Gillette the crowd gets “lubed up” and the same thing goes for the dunk. I expect the atmosphere to be insane and you know how the saying goes, “When the DUNK is a rockin, you better not come knockin”!