With a chance to extend their winning streak to four, the Providence Friars return to the Dunk on Saturday in a rematch against the Creighton Blue Jays. Tbe Friars (13-6, 4-2) are coming off a 70-50 victory against Butler on Monday, while the Blue Jays (15-4, 5-2) are coming off a 80-63 victory against #19 Seton Hall. Creighton’s victory wasn’t all a bed of roses however, as they lost leading rebounder and 3rd leading scorer Martin Krampelj for the season to a torn ACL. The Blue Jays are led in scoring by senior guard Marcus Foster (19.2 ppg) and once again feature a high octane offense that ranks 6th in the country in points per game (88.3). PC will be looking to avenge a 83-64 defeat at the hands of the Jays back on New Year’s Eve in Omaha, so with that here’s my keys to the game.
Crier’s Keys to the Game
Contain Marcus Foster
All season long the Friars have struggled to defend smaller scoring guards but they will get another chance against Creighton’s Marcus Foster. This problem that has plagued the Friars this season hasn’t been noticed lately because the Friars played opponents whose scorers were on the wing, where the Friars are more equipped to defend. Foster has the ability to score both off the dribble driving to the hoop and can hurt you from deep as well, shooting a career best 44.8% from three. What the Friars have going for them is they have contained him in the past holding him under his season average in all four contests against him. The last time the Friars faced a scoring guard however they gave up 52 points to Markus Howard, so Cooley will want to focus the game plan on slowing down Foster.
Limit Creighton’s Transition Offense
A big part of the Creighton offense is predicated on getting out in transition. According to hoop-math.com the Jays rank 10th in the nation field goal attempt in transition percentage at 29.9% and 90th in effective shooting percentage in transition at 60.3%. The two best ways the Friars can limit Creighton’s transition is by taking care of the basketball and taking good shots on offense. In the last meeting against the Jays the Friars turned the ball over 13 times and shot a dismal 3/23 from three-point land. Missed threes lead to long rebounds and leak outs which can turn into easy transition buckets the other way. Friars need to slow the game down and value the basketball in order to get the win.
One of the main catalysts to the Friars recent three-game winning streak has been the play of Kyron Cartwright. Over the win streak Cartwright is averaging 15 points per game and 8 assists per game. While the averages are great Kyron is also being very efficient with his shooting. He is shooting 54.8% from the floor (17/31) and 44.4% from 3 (4/9). Cartwright had a game he’d like to forget against Creighton earlier in the season. He did dish out 8 assists in Omaha but only scored 5 points on 2/11 shooting. On top of all of that he ended up getting injured in a collision with Kalif Young. You know Kyron is thinking about his first game against the Jays and will come out wanting to prove something against a team he’s shined against in the past.
Since the start of conference play Ed Cooley has stressed how he wants his team to take care of business at home and hope to steal a game on the road in the Big East. The game against Creighton on Saturday is really important for the Friars especially considering what lies ahead for the team. After the game the Friars will embark on a 3-game road trip that will take them to #1 Villanova, #19 Seton Hall and Marquette, a place that’s been a house of horrors for the Friars. While Creighton presents a tough challenge for the Friars, I think the guys will get the win come Saturday. The Martin Krampelj injury will be a big factor for the Friars because it’s Creighton’s first game without him and he is their only significant rebounder. Also the way the Friars have been playing defensively lately and the play of Kyron Cartwright I see the Friars getting their revenge against the Jays.
Friars 76 Jays 69 (for Gronk)