Providence Friars Look to Start 2022 With a Win – PC vs. DePaul Preview

Providence, hot off a win at home against #15 Seton Hall, look to extend their 7 game winning streak when they take on the Blue Demons of DePaul in Chicago. We preview the game below and provide keys to victory for Providence.

Game Overview – 3PM EST on FOX

DePaul Team Overview

9-2 Overall, 0-1 in Big East (Wins against Louisville and Rutgers, Losses against Loyola Chicago and Butler)

Javon Freeman-Liberty – Averaging 20pts, 8reb, and 4 asts

David Jones – Averaging 17pts, 8reb on 52% from floor

Brandon Johnson – Averaging 11pts, 8rebs

Keys to the Game

  1. Will David Jones Play? DePaul lost a tough one to Butler, but it is important to note that Jones, DePaul’s second leading scorer, did not play due to COVID protocols. A DePaul team with David Jones is drastically different than one without him (stating the obvious). Freeman-Liberty had a rough shooting night against Butler, and that was partially due to Jones not being his sidekick on the offensive end. Without Jones, Butler could key on stopping Freeman-Liberty without many other offensive threats.
  2. Who Guards Freeman-Liberty? Freeman-Liberty is 0.1 points away from being the Big East leading scorer this season, so it is important for Providence to accept him getting his fair share of points. He also leads the team in assists. The emphasis should be making life incredibly difficult on him and working for every basket. If they can, do everything possible to keep the ball out of his hands and force the rest of DePaul to beat them. I could see Minaya being tasked with guarding Liberty, with a mix of Breed and zone defense being incorporated. DePaul is only a 32% shooting team from deep, so Providence may implement that defensive strategy to minimize the impact of JFL and Jones.
  3. On-Ball Pressure for Providence – DePaul averages a shade under 13 turnovers a game, while averaging less assists a game than turnovers (12.1 to 12.7). Providence should look to implement a full court press and see if their lead guards can handle the consistent defensive presence.
  4. Nate Watson’s RecoveryNate hurt his calf in the late first half against Seton Hall. It is noteworthy to see how many minutes he plays in this one and if he is back to full health. If he isn’t close to fully healthy, I’d turn to Croswell and lean on him for heavier minutes. A gimpy Watson will be a liability on the defensive end and on the glass. This is worth monitoring. If Nate isn’t ready to play, the outcome of this game likely falls upon guard play.
  5. Continue to get Reeves and Horchler Quality Looks from DeepHorchler and Reeves went 6-12 from deep against Seton Hall. Cooley has done a fantastic job this year devising playcalls to get these two guys great looks from the three point line. As we’ve said time and time again, a Providence offense where Horchler and Reeves are clicking becomes very dangerous.
  6. Providence Continues to Impose Its Defensive Will – Slowly but surely Providence has snuck into the top 50 rankings nationally when it comes to major defensive statistics. Providence is 50 overall, holding teams to 61.8 points per game. The only Big East team ranked higher than them is Butler at 29th overall (59.9 ppg). DePaul is averaging 79.5 points a game. Can Providence hold them 15 points below their average like they did Seton Hall?

Predictions

BOC – I think being home for DePaul will do wonders, and this game will remain close the entirety of the game. If David Jones plays, Providence wins 72 – 70. If David Jones has to sit out, Providence wins 77 – 66.

Crier- DePaul basketball will no longer be the punching bag of the league. The Tony Stubblefield hire should do wonders for the program, he and AD Dwayne Peavy seem to be a good duo. The Demons have no real bad losses and have a pair of quality wins. Would be hilarious if DePaul still finds themselves in the basement of the Big East but feel like they have too much talent. PC is going to have to hone in on their stars on defense and play inside out on offense. Ultimately I think our experience and balance will prove to be too much but DePaul is on the rise. PC 70 DePaul 68

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