Providence plays DePaul at 4:30 Sunday on FS1. The Friars are looking to bounce back after a surprising loss on the road against Butler.
Here is what we will be looking for ahead of the game:
1. Line-Up Changes: Horchler just isn’t cutting it right now. He may turn the corner later in the year, but right now he is a liability on both ends of the floor. He cannot guard Big East 3’s or 4’s and isn’t knocking down shots. Hopefully, Cooley recognizes this and puts Nichols in the starting line-up for Horchler. Nichols has earned the starting nod with surprisingly good offensive performances. The Friars need offense in a big way.
2. Line-Up Changes, Part 2: It wouldn’t shock me to see Gantt potentially start for Reeves. Reeves has been in a funk all year, and a change to the line-up may help him mentally. I won’t pretend to be a mind reader, but coming off the bench may take some pressure off Reeves. A starting line-up of Bynum, Duke, Gantt, Nichols, and Watson is probably the best line-up as of this writing. There isn’t a lot of shooting on the floor, but it is not as if Horchler and Reeves are torching it from deep.
3. Revamped Offensive Philosophy: Rather than jacking up 3’s, I’d like to see Cooley emphasize Watson getting a post touch at almost every possession. The Duke/Watson pick and roll against man defense has worked quite well, with Duke’s hesitation dribble after the pick being set leading to a plethora of offensive options. It took Watson far too long to get touches in the second half against Butler. When he did finally get the ball, he scored without much resistance.
Most teams are going to mimic Butler and go to a zone and try to force the Friars to shoot out of it. When this happened against Butler, Cooley didn’t draw up enough plays for Watson to get touches in the second half. It’s imperative Watson is involved every trip down, regardless of the defensive philosophy.
If Watson is having trouble getting touches in the zone, run Nichols or Duke to flash in the center of that zone. From there, they can get that pass at the high post with a multitude of options. That person can make a high post pass to Watson when the defense comes up to play defense to the flasher. If they leave the high post man open, that individual should settle for the mid range jump shot. Nichols utilized that effectively against Butler.
Bottom line is the Friars should expect a lot of zone moving forward and shooting out of it isn’t a wise approach. Providence arguably has the top offensive big man in the Big East and shouldn’t shy away from riding him to victories.