Providence starts its holiday tournament in a clash of undefeated teams, taking on 4-0 Northwestern. The Friars are playing their tournament not in Maui, not in Florida, not even in Charleston, but in the tropical urban area of Newark, NJ. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
Below, we provide an overview of this Northwestern team and what the Friars need to do to start the Thanksgiving week 1-0 and 5-0 overall.
Northwestern Player Overview
Pete Nance – Averaging 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks a game, 50% from 3
Nance is a modern big at 6’10 that is springy and an overall solid player. The frontcourt will have their hands full with Nance. This will be one of the few times all season where a frontcourt player will have the athleticism advantage over Watson and Horchler.
Boo Buie – Averaging 15 points, 6.8 assists
Buie, a Mass Rivals product who escaped New England to head to the Midwest, has to be one of the better finds on the recruiting trail. The junior guard is a strong backcourt player and should give Durham and Bynum/Breed fits.
Ryan Young – Averaging 13 points and 4 boards
I mention Young because he exploded against us 2 years ago by pouring in 16 and 7.
Northwestern Schedule Review to Date
The Wildcats are 4-0, but they haven’t beaten anybody of notice. KenPom has them at 39 overall (Providence is 70 as of this writing), but their inflated rating may be due to the margin of victories against these lower level teams. They have won each of their games by a minimum of 16 points.
KEYS TO A FRIAR VICTORY
- I am a broken record, but get Nate involved early…and often
Watson is presently leading the Friars in scoring at 19.3 points a game. What is even more absurd is he doing that on 74% from the floor. That is ridiculously efficient. Watson is only averaging a shade over 11 attempts a game. With the strength of this Northwestern team being Nance and Young, I’d emphasize Watson getting touches on almost every offensive set and mandating he puts up 15-20 attempts tonight. While that 74% will in all likelihood dip, it is our best half court offense and will make those two guys exert a lot of energy on defense. In turn, that may slow them down on offense. Best case scenario is they both get into foul trouble.
Don’t overthink this. Get Watson touches and let him shine against this Northwestern frontcourt.
2. Get Reeves involved in offense early as well
If Reeves gets going early offensively, it changes the entire dynamics of the Providence offense. I’d look to manufacture some good looks for Reeves early. While Reeves is most effective beyond the arc, he also has the size against most guarding him. Setting up a look down low for an easy bucket will hopefully get Reeves going. Reeves is still a boom or bust player, and Cooley should acknowledge that by getting him touches early in the game.
3. Utilize Breed against Buie
Anybody who reads this blog knows I am a massive Allyn Breed fan. What I love about Breed particularly is his ability to effectively defend. Buie can get going in a hurry, so I’d have Breed in the game early to try to lock him down.
4. Convert Free Throws
Providence is shooting 64.9% from the line. I have a feeling this game will be close throughout the duration of it, so Providence needs to be 70-75% from the line. Most importantly, Watson is 42.9% from the charity stripe. He needs to right this because he will be spending a lot of time at the free throw line all year.
This one has the makings to be a potential high scoring affair. Providence puts up 76 a game, while Northwestern scores 85 a game. Providence leans on Watson and wins a tight one to head into the championship of the Legends Classic, 78-76.
After seeing BOC’s close prediction I came to a realization. Late game of a tournament double-header with a 9pm start, two evenly matched teams, what does this sound like? PC’s NCAA tournament win over USC of course. I got PC winning 73-72 with Boo Buie’s buzzer beater clanking off the rim.