Providence, off a 7 day break following a convincing victory over Xavier, is looking to settle the score with St. Johns after losing to them earlier this year. The last time these two teams played, St. Johns was scorching hot offensively. The Johnnies scored 92 points en route to an 11 point win, shooting 53% from 3 and 59% from the field.
In case you missed it, here were the write-ups prior to the first match-up against St. Johns.
Keys to a Providence Victory
Defense, Defense, Defense: The first match-up against St. Johns felt like a flashback to the Keno Davis era. While Providence scored 81 points in that game, they let up 92 points (13 points higher than St. Johns season average). I understand that the Johnnies like games to be a track meet, but the porous defense cannot be repeated if Providence has any chance of winning.
The defensive efforts need to start with slowing down potential Big East player of the Year Julian Champagnie. Champagnie had 24 and 10 against the Friars and did it with relative ease, finding wide open looks throughout the game. If he gets going early, the rest of the St. Johns team follows suit.
With Alexander potentially not playing, and certainly not being 100%, Champagnie will be hunting for his shots much more aggressively. The Friars can focus their entire defensive efforts on slowing him down, especially with Alexander being less than 100%.
Don’t Allow Posh Alexander to Influence the Game Defensively: Alexander leads the entire Big East in steals at 2.6 steals/game. The next closest person is almost 1 steal less a game. Alexander is a pest defensively, but I am hopeful the return of Bynum leads to the Friars taking care of the ball. St. Johns had 9 steals in the first game, so protecting the ball should be a huge focus.
Update: Alexander is questionable for the game. This may be a bit callous, but him not being 100% or potentially sitting will make life infinitely easier for the PC guards.
Mimic Game 1 Offensive Gameplan…with one alteration: In the first match-up, Providence scored 10 points higher than their season average, so it is difficult to really complain about the offensive strategy.
Similar to game 1, focus the offensive around our big men Watson and Horchler. They combined for 49 points in the first game. St. Johns does not have the caliber of big men able to contain either of these players. Cooley needs to exploit this match-up and force St. Johns to double Water, leading to open looks for Reeves, Horchler, and company.
Horchler and Reeves have been huge beneficiaries of the doubles to Watson. They often times get wide open looks from deep because their man went to double Nate. If Watson can stay out of foul trouble, we’ll see this exact scenario continue to play out because St. John’s doesn’t have the player to guard Watson 1:1.
Where I’d like to see a few tweaks in the offensive strategy is in the following: Duke needs to play more downhill and aggressive. He only attempted 8 shots in the first game. Even if he is “off” on a given night, a player of his caliber cannot attempt only 8 shots. I’d like to see him hunt for looks on the offensive end.