Providence has a big one coming up on Valentine’s Day, with Creighton strolling into a town scorching hot. The Bluejays are on an 8 game win streak and currently sit tied for 2nd in the Big East at 11-3 and 17-8 overall. Providence is coming off a tough loss on the road to St. John’s and absolutely needs to win this one if there is any semblance of trying to repeat in the Big East.
With the loss to the Johnnies, Providence now needs to go 5-1 at worst to get a piece of the Big East Championship, all while hoping the three teams above them falter down the stretch. The most important thing is that Providence has 3 chances to attain more resume building wins for the NCAA tournament in home games against Creighton and Xavier and a road game against Connecticut. That should be the singular focus right now for the squad.
We will revisit the first game, what has changed since then, and what the Friars need to do to secure a win at the AMP.
Game 1 Articles
Game 1 Preview: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/14/providence-versus-creighton-the-friars-look-to-flex-their-muscles-on-the-road/
Game 1 Recap: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/14/bluejays-too-much-to-handle-for-undermanned-friars-creighton-wins-73-67/
Keys to Victory
Start Fast – Despite the 18-7 record, Providence isn’t talented enough to have another slow start and claw back to win the game. In their losses to St. John’s, Xavier, Creighton, and Marquette, Providence has come out sleepy and dug itself into a hole. While they often dig themselves out of said hole, they exert so much energy in the comeback that they fall short and relinquish any semblance of a lead shortly thereafter. It’s an admirable trait that is the epitome of Cooley’s squads, but these early deficits normally mean a loss is on the way.
With the game at home, a slow start will take the crowd completely out of the game. I anticipate this game to be a packed house, and the Friars want the crowd to be their sixth man.
So, how do they avoid the slow start?
Stop Settling for Jumpers. I want this printed on a tee-shirt (the basketball version of Run the Damn Ball).
Cooley and the staff need to draw up looks that get Providence downhill, attacking the rim, and either getting to the line or converting. I’ve seen enough settles early in games by our two most dangerous weapons in Hopkins and Carter. It’s selling themselves and their respective skill sets short. At home, they should get the benefit of the whistle so don’t be afraid to initiate contact at the rim. Lastly, it puts Creighton in potential foul trouble. Their starting 5 is probably tops in the Big East, but they are still trying to find consistent production from the bench.
A fast start, and it will give the Friars a chance at home.
Countering the Game 1 Kalkbrenner Strategy – McDermott was brilliant in the first game. He sagged Kalkbrenner off Croswell and dared him to shoot elbow jumpers. Croswell passed up these looks willingly. By deploying this, Kalkbrenner could remain near the paint to serve as a helpside defender when Providence beat the primary Creighton defender off the dribble. In the first match-up, Kalkbrenner had 4 blocks, but would be credited with double digit alterations of shots. Cooley needs to devise a strategy to either pull Kalkbrenner away from the rim to open up the lane or have the ball handler driving to the hoop ready to make the extra pass to a cutting Friar once Kalkbrenner leaves his man to swat the shot.
Kalkbrenner is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and for good reason. His fingerprints are all over the game defensively.
Pick Your Poison on Scheierman – Scheierman went 3-6 from deep in the first match-up, and a lot of those makes were because of switches McDermott made to isolate a big like Croswell or Moore on him. If this happens, you need to live with Scheierman blowing by you to get a bucket in the mid-range and/or paint. What can’t happen is sagging off because of fear of the above transpiring. That plays right into his offensive wheelhouse and gives him the easy look from deep. Providence did that too many times in Game 1, and he made them pay.
Defensive Strategy – Make them Uncomfortable – Providence needs to get back to its roots and play with a defensive effort that borders on being overly physical. Creighton is too strong of an offensive team to let them get into their sets and run up and down the court. Providence needs to realize that Creighton doesn’t have depth and force their starters to exert a lot of energy to get where they want to be offensively. Providence has to “get in the jerseys” of the Bluejays and force the refs to make a decision on how they want to call the game.
More important, PC needs to set a tone in this one. The grit and toughness of the Friars hasn’t been on display recently, and I’ve seen too much begging for calls from the refs. Don’t worry about the calls and just play the game. Let Cooley and the assistants handle that.
Be the enforcer, play tough, and make Creighton think twice on every drive. It’s the only way to slow down an offensive team like this one.
Bynum – Starter or 6th Man? I’d imagine the St. John’s performance was an anomaly from a shooting perspective, and he will still be starting. There is no doubt some of his best games have come in that 6th man role, but I don’t think you can move him back to the bench after inserting him in the starting line-up. Providence needs him in this one to help stay on track with Creighton’s offense.
BOC: I’m not feeling great about this one to be honest. While it is at home, Creighton is playing lights out and is healthy. Also, they played really poorly against us in the first one (0 points from Nembhard, 19% from 3), and I can’t see that same scenario happening. Oh, and they still won. I’m torn.
I’ll pick Providence to win 79 – 77 at home, but don’t feel confident at all with that.
Crier: Now that the fighting spirits have warn off I may walk back my guarantee talk. The Jays are on fire winning 8 straight games. However if you take a look into that streak they’ve had 5 games at home and the three road games were at Butler, Georgetown and Seton Hall. The Jays biggest weakness is their lack of depth, and the Friars are really good at drawing fouls and getting to the line. Think the Friars bounce back from a poor shooting day at MSG and end the Jays win streak- Providence 77 Creighton 67