After playing the last two games on the road, the Friars return to the Amica Mutual Pavilion tonight, as they face the Manhattan Jaspers. Manhattan parted ways with head coach Steve Masiello two weeks prior to the season, which was a very curious move. That led to star guard and preseason MAAC player of the year, Jose Perez, to transfer to West Virginia.
Under interim coach RaShawn Sores the Jaspers are off to a 3-4 start. They’re a guard heavy team with senior guard Ant Nelson leading the way with 14.6 ppg.
For the Friars the mission is quite simple: finish off the non-conference slate with two wins. Let’s see what to look for in this one.
Opportunity for Frontcourt- As mentioned in the opening, the Manhattan Jaspers are a guard led team. In fact, their only frontcourt player that sees significant time is former St. John’s Red Storm Josh Roberts. Roberts is holding his own this year with averages of 13.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 2.7 bpg, all while shooting 75% from the floor. However, look for the Friars to try and build off their dominant effort against URI. PC’s frontcourt dominated the paint against URI, scoring a total of 42 points and 24 rebounds. While Manhattan has shown the ability to protect the rim, look for the Friars to play through the bigs. This should be able to open up Locke and Bynum on the perimeter.
Defensive Improvement?- There were mostly positive things to say about the Friars against URI; however, they did give up 47 points in the second half. The defense hasn’t been there for the majority of the season, but Manhattan is a team that can get them on track. The Jaspers rank 270th in the nation in points per game and struggle to find offense outside of Nelson and Roberts. They also commit 15 turnovers per game. Look for the Friars to ramp up the ball pressure and try to get out in transition. The magic number to hold them under should be 65 points.
Consistency from Depth Players – It’d be ideal to see the trio of Moore, Breed, and Locke string together another strong offensive performance. These three will likely never lead the team in scoring, but they did tally 36 points total against URI. If we can have these three putting up 20-25 points a game consistently, that’s a huge helping hand to Bynum, Carter, and Hopkins.
Pierre Minute Watch – Post TCU all fans were clamoring for Pierre to start against URI. Cooley hung tight on the starting line-up, and Pierre only played 10 minutes. With this game at home, I’d envision Pierre playing closer to 20 minutes in this one than 10. He needs the court time as we approach Big East play.
Crier- The Friars offense was heavily critiqued after the TCU game, however they’ve scored over 70 points in six of their nine games this season. The Jaspers really haven’t defended at a high level and their offense won’t be able to score enough points to compete with PC, despite the defense at times being suspect. I really don’t see a scenario where this is a close one. PC 82 Manhattan 62.
BOC – Let’s empty the bench by the Under 16 in the second half. Providence plays another complete game with Bynum returning to form offensively. PC 85, Manhattan 66.