After a little over a week off, the Providence Friars return to action tonight to take on Seton Hall at the Prudential Center. PC (14-7, 5-3) is in the midst of a season long 3-game road trip where they lost the first game to #1 Villanova 89-69. Led by a big three of Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington the Seton Hall Pirates (16-5, 5-2) were off to one of their best starts in school history until they dropped 3 of 4 games before their recent 76-60 road win at DePaul. For the Pirates Desi Rodriguez leads them in scoring with 17.4 points per game and are led in rebounding by double-double machine Angel Delgado at 12 rebounds per contest. It is a big game for both teams as the Friars are trying to grab at least one of these road games on the trip to avoid being back on the bubble and Seton Hall is looking to get back on track so they can crack the Top 25 again. The winner of the game will also have sole possession of 4th place in the Big East, so there’s a lot at stake tonight and with that we will get to my keys to the game.
Crier’s Keys to the Game
Keep the Pirates Off the Offensive Glass
In order to get a win in Newark the Friars want to keep the opposition from getting offensive rebounds and with Seton Hall that’s no easy task. The Pirates rank 26th in the nation in offensive rebounds per game at 12.7 per game. Angel Delgado himself ranks 5th in the nation with 4.29 offensive boards per game. Playing on the road the Friars can’t allow Seton Halll to get a ton of extra possessions from offensive rebounds. Kalif Young, who has provided a spark on the glass with 21 boards in his last 3 games, is faced with his biggest challenge to date dealing with Delgado. The Friars also need to have their wings and guards help in rebounding department as well. If the Friars can keep the Pirates to under 10 offensive rebounds they can consider that a win.
Cartwright vs. Carrington
The matchup between senior guards Kyron Cartwright and Khadeen Carrington could go a long way in determining who comes out on top tonight. In his last game against Villanova, Cartwright had the same amount of points (6) and assists (3) in the first half as he did in the second however the problem was he turned the ball over four times. Those 4 turnovers occurred during a stretch where Villanova extended their 9 point lead to 18. In tonight’s game Kyron is going to need to be able to attack the basket, hit jumpers, get his teammates involved and most importantly take care of the basketball. As for Carrington his senior season has been a bit of a disappointment compared to what he did last season, seeing his scoring average drop from 17.1 ppg to 13.8. I realize he has been tasked with taking on more of a distributor role for the Pirates and the emergence of Myles Powell (14.6 ppg) has taken the scoring burden off his shoulders but its not just the point totals it’s his efficiency that’s been really disappointing. Carrington is only 39.1% from the floor this season and only 33.7% from 3. Before the Pirates last game against DePaul, Carringotn entered the game only shooting 24.4% from the field in his prior four games. Carrington has had success against the Friars in the past scoring in double figures four times but Hall is going to need Khadeen to be effective and efficient scoring the basketball. If Cartwright plays much better than Carrington the Friars would be in good shape to steal a road victory.
Win the Free Throw Line
While the Friars have improved their free throw shooting since conference play (76.8%) it has occasionally been a problem throughout the season as they’ve only shot 70% for the year. PC ranks 39th in the nation free throw attempts per game at 23, which also places them 2nd in the Big East. The fact that the Friars get to the line so much makes it that much more important to convert at a good percentage, especially on the road. Seton Hall on the other hand has had a tough go at the line all season long, shooting 67.5%, which ranks 287th nationally. In Seton Hall’s 3 losses by single digits this season they’ve shot 58.9% from the stripe. I think this game will be a tight game and may come down to the free throw line so the Friars want to make sure they best the Hall in this category.
The Seton Hall Pirates are the Crier’s favorite non-Friar Big East team. I love their big three of Rodriguez, Delgado and Carrington. Add Myles Powell to the mix and now they’re really cooking with gas. My one gripe with this Seton Hall team however is they leave you wanting more. Their victories over Texas Tech, on the road against Louisville and their 13-point comeback win against Creighton in the Big East opener is what I expect from a team with as much talent as the Hall. Seton Hall’s loss at Rutgers and their offensive duds at Marquette and Creighton are as frustrating as they are perplexing. If I’m a Seton Hall fan I’m disappointed that they aren’t ranked nationally as we head into February, hell I’m upset as a Friar fan that we aren’t playing them when they are ranked. While I think we will ultimately split against Seton Hall, I believe the Friars will get the victory tonight. The Friars psyche after losing to an elite team like Villanova and the major problem Delgado presents them does scare me but I think this will be a close game and with Seton Hall’s free throw shooting I’ll give the edge to the Friars.
Friars 73 Seton Hall 70