Y'all ready for some more basketball? Maryland will take on the Friars of Providence Monday evening and you might recognize some former ACC players on their roster. Tyler Harris, formally of NC State and Carson Desrosiers, formally of Wake Forest, both transferred to Providence and are playing for the Friars this season.
This will be the third time overall that these teams have met, the last time being a Maryland win over the Friars in 1991 when both teams squared off in the ACC-Big East Challenge (that was a thing?) at the Meadowlands. Walt Williams finished that game with 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. Pretty good day at the office for the Wizard.
Providence was picked to finish 6th in the Big East by their coaches and they're actually the second best team Maryland has faced this season, checking in at 38 according to KenPom.com.
Because of the quick turn around in tonight's game, our preview is going to be a little different. I spoke with Craig Belhumeur of FriarBasketball.com to get some insights about tonight's opponent. He was kind enough to answer some questions about tonight's opponent.Here are my answers to his questions. Be sure to give Craig a follow on twitter @Craig_Belhumeur and check out FriarBasketball.com.
DT: Providence has gotten off to a 6-0 start, including beating a good Boston College team in OT during their first game of the season. Are you surprised at the how well this team has done out of the gate? What has been the key to their success?
CB: I have not been surprised at all by this team. Providence was picked by the Big East coaches to finish 6th in the conference but in my own projections I had them finishing fourth. With the additions of Tyler Harris (13.3 PPG & 5.5 RPG) and Carson Desrosiers (5.8 RPG & 3.0 BPG) Ed Cooley has a lot of depth, something PC has not been accustomed to in the past. The Friars returned the Big East leading scorer from a year ago, Bryce Cotton (17.5 PPG & 5.7 APG), as well as the league's most improved player in Kadeem Batts (14.5 PPG & 7.0 RPG) To go along with those four players, Providence is also getting very good production out of junior forward, LaDontae Henton (14.5 PPG & 8.2 RPG). With all of that being said, I still haven't mentioned former McDonald's American, Kris Dunn. Dunn missed the first three games due to injury but since returning, he has been playing fantastic basketball.
I would say that scoring contributions from a multitude of players as well as solid team rebounding has led to the early success. Four players, Cotton, Batts, Henton and Harris are all averaging double-figures and Providence has out rebounded five of their six opponents. Really, any one of those four guys has the potential to burn an opponent.
DT: It appears that Providence has four players who can score efficiently; Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts, LaDontae henton and Tyler Harris. With all four averaging in double figures, how can opponents slow down the Friars' offense? Which among those four is the one you don't want to see in foul trouble?
Bryce Cotton, Providence's top scorer, can hurt teams by the way of the three ball or he likes to drive and finish with a floater around the basket. In a game against Brown, where Cotton scored just 6 points, the Bears played tight defense on the 6'1 guard, and had a hand in his face nearly every shot attempt. The key to slowing Cotton down is to pressure him and hold him out of the paint. His floater and full extension scoop on the right side of the basket is nearly automatic.
Kadeem Batts, Providence's second highest scorer, love to square up to the basket and shoot from 10-15 feet away. He's shooting just under 50% from the field, and also does a good job rebounding the basketball. Batts has the tendency to get into foul trouble, but look for the seven foot center, Carson Desrosiers to step in if that happens.
LaDontae Henton and Tyler Harris have similar games in that they will take a shot from three, but both can score on penetration. Henton heavily favors his left hand, so forcing him right is the way to go. Harris has been playing very well in St. Thomas as he recorded 22 points and 9 rebounds in the Friars win over LaSalle on Sunday night.
As I mentioned, Batts is the one to watch for foul trouble, but Tyler Harris has also fouled out once this season.
DT: Follow-up - The new contact rules in college basketball this season have taken some getting used to. How have the Providence players adjusted?
CB: Following the home opener against BC, a game that featured 55 fouls leading to three Friars fouling out, the rules changes haven't really impacted Providence that much. Outside of Kadeem Batts often getting called for "ticky tack" fouls on the block, PC has been able to avoid mass foul trouble.
DT: Providence has been one of the better offensive rebounding teams so far this season, according to KenPom. What has allowed them to be successful controlling the offensive glass?
CB: Prior to the start of the season, LaDontae Henton let it be known that he was after the Big East rebounding crown. Through six games, he leads the Friars in that category, averaging just over 8 boards a game. He is currently second on the team in offensive rebounding with 13. Kadeem Batts has corralled 19 rebounds on the offensive glass in addition to Tyler Harris' 12. The size, upfront, for this Providence team has led to the offensive rebounding success through 6 games. It is also worth noting that, under head coach Ed Cooley, the Friars play with much more tenacity and grit than Providence teams are known for.
DT: It appears Providence has about seven players who average 10 or more minutes per game. Playing in their third game since Friday, could fatigue be an issue tonight with a somewhat short bench?
CB: I am not too concerned with fatigue. Since day one at Providence College, Ed Cooley pledged to have a tough and well conditioned team. Even if some of the starters get tired, he has guys like Lee Goldsbrough, Ted Bancroft and Brice Kofane who can step in an provide quality minutes. These three may not be blessed with superior talent but each have their own way of making solid contributions when needed.
DT: Based on Providence's personnel and weaknesses this season, which Maryland player do you think they'll have the hardest time stopping tonight?
CB: For obvious reasons, I am most concerned about Jake Layman. As the Terps top offensive scorer, it will be interesting to see who Ed Cooley puts on him if he decides to play man-to-man for the majority of the game. At 6'8 he is likely too big for one of Providence's guards to take him, but I also don't see a Batts or Henton matchup either. With Layman's ability to shoot the three and stretch the court, my best guess is that either Harris or Dunn will be put on the Wrentham, MA native.
DT: Most seem to have tonight's game as a pretty evenly matched contest. Who do you think leaves St. Thomas as Paradise Jam champions?
CB: The Friars are playing their best basketball since the early 2000's, look for them to continue this ride with a win over Maryland tonight. 71-62 Providence in a game decided by free throws.
Thanks to Craig for doing the quick Q&A with us. In terms of tonight's game, I believe it will be close. I'm hopeful that Maryland's bench will be able to provide with with the extra bit to put them over the top, but Providence is a good, experienced team. I think the Terps pull it out, 73-71.