Providence Looks to Start a Winning Streak – PC vs. Sacred Heart Game Preview

Providence looks to start the season 2-0 after a close victory against Fairfield. Sacred Heart is 1-0 on the season after beating LaSalle 86-81 in overtime in their season opener.

Game Details: 6:30 PM Tip at Dunkin Donuts Center

TV Details: FS1

Betting Details: Providence is favored by 15.5 and is 0-1 against the spread so far this year

Below we provide some background on Sacred Heart, what we are looking for in this game, and give predictions on final score.

Sacred Heart Background

The Pioneers finished 9-9 last year. Sacred Heart’s starting five are all players returning from last year’s squad. Two of the their top scorers from last year, Tyler Thomas and Aaron Clarke, return. The team is led by Thomas, who put up 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists against LaSalle in the opener. Thomas, however, put those numbers up on 9-27 shooting (2-13 from three).

Scouting Report for Providence against Sacred Heart

  1. Defend the 3 point line – The Pioneers shot the ball 70 times against LaSalle, with 31 of those attempts being three point attempts. They made 11 of those for a respectable 35.5% from three. Providence must run them off the 3 point line and not allow them to settle in from deep early.
  2. Understand Tyler Thomas is their focal point on the offensive end – Any time a player shoots 38% of a team’s shots and over 40% of their threes, it is apparent the offense is built around that player. I have a hard time believing that Thomas is going to replicate his 15% success rate from beyond the arc, as he averaged 33% from deep last year. Cooley cannot let this guy take over the game and should plan his defense around shutting Thomas down and forcing the other Sacred Heart players to win the game.
  3. Pressure the ballhandlers the entire game – Sacred Heart had 17 turnovers in their first game, and I would expect Cooley to ratchet up the ball pressure with Providence being the superior team physically and athletically. Providence appears to still be a work in progress in the half-court set, so any opportunities for transition buckets would be welcomed.

What We Are Looking for – Providence Friars

  1. More of an emphasis on defensive intensity – It seemed in the first game that Providence fell back into some bad habits from last year where players were going through the motions and falling asleep on defense. I’m hopeful that Providence is engaged defensively and makes this game a struggle for the Pioneers.
  2. Will there be a defined rotation? Cooley seemingly has his rotation in place, which is consistent from what we saw in the preseason. The five starters are entrenched, with Minaya getting the most minutes off the bench. Breed is next up off the bench for the guards and will likely see more than 10 minutes like he did the first game against Fairfield. Croswell should continue to spell Watson only when needed. I’m hopeful we see more of the same from Cooley in this game.
  3. Results aside, better shot attempts from 3 – I can live with a bad shooting night from deep if the looks are quality. That wasn’t the case against Fairfield. Of the 18 attempts, I’d argue only about 12 of those were quality shots. There is no reason to shoot contested 3’s early in the shot clock. Be patient and run the offense, and we’ll get better looks from deep.

Score Prediction

BOC: Providence – 87, Sacred Heart 70 – Friars settle into this game much earlier than the last (first game jitters) and have a much more efficient offensive game.

Crier: Providence- 88, Sacred Heart 64- Despite the win over Fairfield the Friars know they can play better than Tuesday and it will show tonight. Sacred Heart’s potent backcourt of Tyler Thomas and Alex Watson combined for 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists against LaSalle but also had 8 TO. The Pioneers had 17 giveaways as a team and I’m sure Cooley is looking to turn these guys over and get easy baskets in transition. Nate Watson should have no problems to continue and dominate down low. Friars move to 2-0.

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