Name: Providence College
Location: Providence, RI
Cardinal Connection - this one was easy as Coach Pitino reached the Final 4 with the Friars and Billy the Kid Donovan in 1987. Pitino coached the Friars for 2 seasons - compiling a 42-23 record. Assistant Richard Pitino also coached as an understudy/manager to Tim Welsh in his last two years as a student. It's obvious that the Pitino family has strong ties in Providence and both sides have a mutual respect and admiration for each other.
Head Coach - Keno Davis (1st season) (44-14 in 2nd year as HC - 28-5 last season at Drake)
Assistants - Chris Davis, Rodell Davis and Patt Skerry
Overall Record - 16-9 (8-5 in BIG EAST)
RPI - 67 SOS- 268 (kenpom.com)
Pomeroy Rating - 71 Sagarin - 66
Bracketology - #12 in East vs. #5 Purdue
Doris Burke (part of the Axis of Evil involved in tonight's game)
Christopher Dodd (U.S. Senate, D-Connecticut) (Interestingly, like TC, Sen. Dodd received his law degree at University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. While I can't speak for the distinguished Senator, TC assures me he will not be rooting for the Friars.)
Billy Donovan - second favorite coach behind Pitino for the way he spurned Cat fan a couple years back
Patrick Kennedy - U.S. House of Representatives, D-Rhode Island
Lenny Wilkins - NBA's All-Time Wins/Losses Leader as head coach
NBA Alumni - Marvin Barnes, Ausin Croshere, Ryan Gomes, Herbert Hill, Eric Murdock, God Shammgod, Dickie Simkins. Michael Smith, John Thompson, Otis Thorpe, Jimmy Walker, Eric Williams
G - Jeff Xavier (6'1 185 SR) - Mostly known for getting elbowed in the face in a game earlier in the year only to have his drug-charge-carrying brother walk out onto the court in the middle of the game and give the officials a piece of his mind. Aside from that problem, Xavier has not lived up to expectations he had as a transfer from Manhattan averaging 17 ppg. His 9ppg is 3 points less than what he averaged last year. It is always a possibility that Xavier goes off for 20 though.
G- Sheraud Curry (5'10 170 JR) - Friars PG missed all last year with injury and has came back strong, especially the last 10 games. Curry has scored 10+ points and dished out 4+ assists in 9 of the last 10 and has gone over 20 twice. That has boosted his PPG to over 10 to go with a shade under 5 assists. his true test will how he handles the pressure Louisvile is going to throw at them.
F - Geoff McDermott (6'8 235 SR) - A guy that seem like he has been there forever (Clerance Weatherspoon-style) is having somewhat of a down year, but if the Friars make the dance I'm sure he won't care. He has been hovering around 10/10 all 4 years and will do all the dirty work for his squad - a la Jeff Adrien on UCONN. He scored 18 points and grabbed 7 boards in defeat against the Cards last year. A bruising-old-school type of player with a nice mid-range game and good rebounding instincts.
F - Weyinmi Efejuku (6'5 210 SR) - The player with the hardest name to say will probably be the hardest for the Cards to stop tonight. He is coming off a 25 point effort against Rutgers on Saturday and is leading the team with 13.7 PPG. Out of the remarkable 5 Friars with 1,000 career points, Efejuku leads with 1,325. He seems to disappear on occasion and teams with good guards like Marquette and UCONN have been able to slow him down.
C - Jonathan Kale (6'8 245 SR) - Kale takes about 7 shots a game and makes them at a 59% clip. He is an undersized center who gets by with smarts and strength. Has been somewhat of a liability on defense and seem to only play well when the other team doesn't have someone bigger than him (remind you of someone?). Kale is putting up 10 points and 6 boards a game.
G/F- Marshawn Brooks - Sophmore SF brings some youthful exuberance to the team,
C - Randall Hanke - 6'11 big guy helps Friars match up with bigger teams off the bench
G - Brian McKenzie - gives backcourt help - not a very good shooter
Television - 7:30 tip on ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien & Doris Burke)
Side note: So let me get this straight - we have played on ESPN twice in the last week and both times one of the analysts is an alma mater/icon of the opposition. Does that seem unfair to anyone? I didn't see Will Perdue calling the UK/Vandy game and Clark Kellogg isn't calling the Ohio St./Northwestern game tonight. Why do we have to get stuck with pitiful Doris Burke?
Officials - Tim "I love scotch...scotch,scotch,scotch" Higgins, Ed "Pitino must have slept w/ my wife for the way I treat his teams" Hightower and .....who cares? Those are the two worst possible officials we could have been given. Both have a reputation for calling some of the touchy-est fouls in the country and the Freedom hall faithful dogging them all night is just going to make it worse. I could see Samardo getting 3 quick fouls and becoming a non-factor. Not due to stiff competition, but the officiating crew.
Outlook - Samardo Samuels and Earl Clark should have there way inside whenever they want tonight. Providence's tallest player is Randall Hanke at 6'11, but he could become a human tea cup (if you know what I mean) tonight. The ball needs to get pounded inside every possession to get easy buckets and free up the outside shooters. T-Will is set to return 100% so expect him to slice and dice through the defense like TC cutting up onions for his chili. The guys in Las Vegas have this at 14 points, which seems a little high. the reason behind it is that UL completely over matches the Friars and the only way a loss could occur if if Providence is red hot and the Cards are ice-cold from the outside. You also can't discount the fact that the Friars are fighting for their tournament lives so all bets are off. I see Providence covering the 14, but Louisville still winning by double-digits.