Providence Looks to Right the Ship: Merrimack Warriors Game Preview

Providence had a weekend to forget this past weekend. We broke down the weekend in the podcast below:

In all failures, though, there are learning experiences. I’m certain Cooley learned a lot about his Friar roster and what he has (or doesn’t have). This Merrimack game is going to be telling on what knowledge was gained, as Cooley even mentioned the team that shows up to this game will be vastly different from the one from Mohegan Sun.

While going 0-2 isn’t ideal, I believe both Miami and St. Louis will make the NCAA tournament. If the Friars win the remaining out of conference games that they should, they’ll still be on track for a potential NCAA bid. Given the roster turnover, that’s all you can ask for.

Below, we’ll break down what we expect heading into the Merrimack game and provide our game predictions.

Merrimack College Warriors

Merrimack just flat out isn’t a good program right now. They are 1-4 with a 25 point loss to St. John’s, 19 point loss to Troy University, 11 point loss to Montana, and 11 point loss to University of St. Thomas. Their only win is against Clark University, who I couldn’t point out on a map if you gave me 20 tries. Merrimack is only averaging 60 points a game, is shooting 38% from the floor, and 30% from 3. They are a solid 78% from the free throw line.

What We’re Looking For

Shortened Rotation – The 10 man rotations without any rhyme or reason from this past weekend just aren’t going to work out. Cooley traditionally doesn’t do well with a deep bench, and I think he needs to rip the band-aid off and cut minutes for a few players on the bench. Only he knows who that is, but I’d like to see him ride with one of Moore/Castro off the bench (rather than both splitting minutes), as well as pick two of the three guards in Floyd Jr., Pierre, and Breed (rather than all 3 splitting minutes). This shortened rotation will help the team get into more of a rhythm.

Potential Starting Line-Up Change – It is 5 games into the season, and Bynum already looks exhausted from having to carry the offensive load. Besides Hopkins, Bynum really isn’t getting any help on offense, and it is showing with his poor shooting numbers.

Locke hasn’t shown me enough in the past few games to warrant a starting spot, and I think the offense is at its best when Bynum has another ball handler on the court with him. That’s why I expect to see one of Pierre or Breed in the starting line-up next to Bynum against Merrimack and potentially permanently moving forward. I’m not waving the flag on Locke, but he has to show more to warrant getting the starting nod.

Big Men Half Court Sets – Going with similar themes as above, Cooley needs to find ways to lessen the burden on Bynum. We haven’t seen much of it to date, but this may be the game where we see what Croswell and Moore can do in a halfcourt offensive set in the post. Croswell has thrived and made his living on putbacks and hustle points, but that just isn’t enough. We need to see if Croswell and Moore can score in the low post in a more traditional sense. If they can, that’ll space the floor even more for PC’s shooters.

Start Quick – This game should be Stonehill, Part 2. Providence is lucky to have a game so quickly after the Mohegan debacle, and I hope they come out hot. This is a perfect game to wash away this past weekend, and we’ll know very quickly if they are letting the 0-2 weekend linger into this game.


BOC: Reserves get time in second half, and Providence fans are happy to get back in the winning column. 92 – 62.

Crier: While part of me will caution the possibility of there being a Mohegan hangover, the Friars should get back on track today. 100-64.

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