Friars Look to Finish Road Trip with Win Over Marquette – Game Preview

The Providence Friars, 1-0 on their 2 game road trip after soundly defeating DePaul 70-53, look to head back to Rhode Island with hopes of beating the Marquette Golden Eagles in Wisconsin. The game will be taking place at 9PM EST on FS1.

Marquette Team Overview

Coached by Shaka Smart in his First Year at Marquette, the Golden Eagles possess an 8-6 Record (0-3 in Big East). The team is led by super sophomore Justin Lewis, who is averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a game. Maryland transfer Darryl Morsell helps play sidekick to Lewis, averaging almost 14 points. Cumberland, RI native Tyler Kolek is the leading assist man in the Big East at 5.9 assists/game. Kolek was being evaluated by Providence this offseason after transferring from George Mason.

Keys to the Game

  1. Justin Lewis: Meet Justin Minaya – Lewis is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. Surprisingly, Lewis is listed at only 6’7 (I question the accuracy of that), but plays much bigger than that. He has the ability to mix it up in the paint, while also knocking down the mid-range and deep ball. I’d anticipate “The Energizer Bunny” Justin Minaya to warmly introduce himself to Justin Lewis on the defensive end, in a similar fashion to how Minaya effectively defended Jared Rhoden. Lewis has a propensity for turnovers, averaging almost 2 a game, so Providence should look to make life very difficult for Lewis by having Minaya stick to him like glue.
  2. Attack Kolek on the Defensive End – I’ve been very adamant about the fact that we missed on Kolek. A Rhode Island native, I presume that if we pushed hard for him that he would have been ours. I’m not sure he’d have more than a role off the bench this year for Providence, but he would have absolutely been an asset, exemplified by his Big East leading assists/game. With all that said, I’ve watched a handful of Marquette games, and he gets exposed defensively. If I’m the Providence coaching staff, I put Kolek in compromising defensive positions off pick and rolls and high screens to see if he can stick with his defender. As great as he is on the offensive end, he appears to be a defensive liability.

I’d also ensure that Durham, Bynum, and Breed are guarding him the length of the court. While he is masterful leading the Marquette offense, he can be a bit reckless with the ball at times, averaging 2.9 turnovers a game.

3. Re-Establish Post Play as Focal Point of Offense – Nate Watson had an off-night offensively against DePaul, but will look to get back on track against Marquette. The Golden Eagles have a big man in Kuath who averages 2.9 blocks a game, but I don’t see him being able to hang with Watson. If Nate is able to get Kuath in foul trouble, it puts the Golden Eagles in a significant bind. Ighodaro, a freshman, has a lot of promise, but doesn’t have the size or experience to effectively play in the post against Watson.

Especially with the uncertainty around A.J. Reeves, I’d have the game-plan centered around Nate getting touches early and often. Providence may be down one shooter in Reeves, so getting good looks in the post is imperative. It’s time for Watson to have a vintage 20 and 8 type game.

Game Predictions

BOC: The Marquette Golden Eagles are a dangerous team coming off 3 straight Big East losses. They should have beaten Creighton (not fouling up 3 is coaching malpractice by Smart). If Providence doesn’t come ready to play on the road, they are at risk of losing this one. Ultimately, I think it is the Providence defense which is the differentiator here, as offense becomes too tough to come by for Marquette. Providence wins this one 70-65.

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