Providence, coming off a gutsy road win against Seton Hall, has a chance for another resume building win when Marquette (also 9-3 on the year) travels to Providence Tuesday night. Marquette is coming off a nice win of their own, a drubbing of the Kalkbrenner-less Blue Jays of Creighton. The winner of this game remains atop the Big East.
We preview the game, what to watch for, and what Providence needs to do to come out on top against the Shaka Smart led squad.
By the Numbers – Marquette Individual Players
Kam Jones – 8th in Big East in Scoring at 15.8 points/game. 2nd most 3 pointers made in Big East at 32 – 92 (34.8%).
David Joplin – 5th in Big East at 3 point FG % at 45.5%/game. 8th in 3 Pointers made in Big East.
Oso Ighodaro – Leads Marquette in Rebounding at 6.8 Rebounds/Game. 6th in Big East in Blocks at 1.67 Blocks/Game.
Tyler Kolek – Leads Big East in Assists at 7.8 Assists/Game. For perspective, the next best player is 5.8 Assists/Game.
Greg Elliott – No longer on the roster after using up his 11th year of eligibility last year
By the Numbers – Marquette Team Statistics
- 3rd in Points/Game at 81.1 Points. Providence 5th at 79.5
- 9th in Rebounds/Game at 33.9 Rebounds. Providence is 3rd at 39.3
- 3rd in Assists/Game at 18.5 Assists. Providence is 6th at 15.5.
- 2nd in Steals/Game at 8.83 Steals. Providence is 4th at 7.92.
- 10th in Blocks/Game at 3.58 Steals. Providence is 1st at 5.25.
What to Watch For
Providence Playing to Strengths – Marquette doesn’t have the big man Kur Kuath to protect the rim and erase shots effortlessly. Remember when Kuath had 7 blocks against PC in the first match-up last year?! Gone are him and Justin Lewis. While Marquette is an explosive and dangerous team, Providence needs to exploit their lack of experience and size in the frontcourt.
Ighodaro and Prosper are incredibly springy big men, but they are, at best, each 6’8. Think of the match-up against Seton Hall and KC Ndefo. Ndefo had his fair share of highlight plays against Providence, but for the most part, the size, strength, and physicality of Croswell and Hopkins got the better of him.
Croswell and Hopkins need to have an identical game-plan as they did against the Pirates. Go into the body of Ighodaro and Prosper and eliminate their athleticism. If they try to avoid the block shot, it plays right into what Marquette wants to do. If they can get Ighodaro and Prosper in foul trouble, Marquette doesn’t have a ton of depth behind them.
Cooley should be emphasizing a touch in the post for Croswell and Hopkins on every half court possession. See if Marquette has an answer for them.
Providence Playing to Strengths, Part 2 – When a shot goes up, Providence needs to make it a mandate to dominate the glass. Marquette doesn’t have the size and strength to push around PC. Providence, on the other hand, can impose their will on the glass while also getting Marquette in foul trouble.
Do Best to Contain Kolek in PnR – As everybody knows by now, Kolek grew up in Rhode Island an avid Friar fan, and he seems to want to make it his mission to make the Providence staff regret not recruiting him. Kolek is an absolute maestro with the ball in his hands, putting his teammates in great positions for success.
In the win against Providence last year, Kolek had 9 assists to 1 turnover on only 3 shot attempts. Marquette scored 88. In the loss against Providence where Marquette scored 63, Kolek scored 13 points on 5-10, but had zero assists.
I think PC needs to replicate the game plan of the second game where you dare Kolek to beat you on the offensive end. PC should fight through picks and not overly help if Kolek gets a step on the man guarding him. By helping hedge on the screen, it leaves another Marquette player open. If Kolek can score 15+ and carry Marquette to win on his shoulders, good on him. I like those odds for the Friars.
Additionally, I would look to switch up the looks on defense. If Bynum is guarding Kolek, that may not be a recipe of success for PC. I’d look for Carter and Breed to spend a lot of time guarding him. Kolek is the catalyst for this Marquette team, and they need to do everything possible to make life difficult for him.
Run Kam Jones and David Joplin off 3 Point Line – As mentioned above, Jones and Joplin are assassins from deep. Providence cannot let them get hot. Jones is a bucket getter anywhere on the court, but Jopin is somewhat limited offensively outside of the 3 ball. 3 Point Defense has been an issue for the Friars, and it needs to be a focus of these two.
BOC: Providence does just enough to win 78-75, going 2-0 in conference. The physicality and toughness of Providence, along with a raucous home crowd, carries Providence to 2-0 in conference.