With Providence sputtering to the finish of the Big East season, followers of the Friar program are hoping a “rivalry” game of sorts gets the Friars refocused and back on track. Even during the original Big East, when UCONN was continually producing top 10 nationally ranked squads, this PC program was consistently a thorn in the side of the Huskies
UCONN, after originally leaving the Big East to unsuccessfully chase football money, is back in the fold and looking to string together a strong close to the season to cement its place in the NCAA tournament.
Questions Heading into Game:
- Will Duke bounce back after a few tough performances?
- Will Bynum play?
- How many minutes will Bouknight play? How effective will he be?
- Can the Friars match the intensity and effort of the Hurley-led Huskies?
Keys to Game for Providence:
- Get UCONN big men in foul trouble – The Huskies may not have the big men of the Calhoun era…but they aren’t too far away. Whaley and Sanogo are two effective big men, with Whaley being that uber-athletic, bouncy forward and Sanogo more of the traditional big man. For Providence to have success, Nate Watson needs to leave his fingerprints all over this game and force Whaley and Sanogo to be effective defenders in the paint.
- Don’t Let Bouknight Get into a Rhythm – It is Bouknight’s first game back in a few weeks, and he will inevitably be a bit rusty. Providence cannot give him open looks and let him see the ball go through the basket a few times. If he makes a few, it brings this UCONN team up a whole different dimension.
- Bring an Intensity not seen this Season – A rivalry game may be just what the doctor ordered for the Providence Friars. This team has been lifeless for the majority of the season. It needs to dig deep and show a backbone, regardless of the current state of the team. Hurley’s teams continually play with a high level of energy and effort. Couple that with Hurley’s familiarity with the PC program from his days at URI, and this game has the makings of a very chippy affair. Providence cannot back down and needs to be ready to fight back, which is something they have yet to show on a consistent basis this season.
If Providence doesn’t match the effort level of the Huskies, this game could get ugly quickly. Cooley needs to have the boys mentally ready for this match-up because you know Hurley is doing that already.
- A minimum of two technicals will be given this game, with three being my prediction.
- Duke rights the ship in this game after a few poor performances in a row. Matching up against Bouknight and the rival Huskies gets Duke back in the right place mentally.
- We see Bynum in a limited capacity.