Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Show Me My Opponent - Providence Friars

Name: Providence College

Established: 1917

Location: Providence, RI

Enrollment: 8,878

Cardinal Connection – Yeah, we used this one back in February. But it’s still Ricky P, who coached the Friars and Billy Donovan to the Final Four back in 1987.

Site: Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

Head Coach - Keno Davis (1st season)

Assistants - Chris Davis, Rodell Davis and Patt Skerry

Spread - Louisville minus 9

Overall Record - 18-12

RPI - 72
SOS – 47

Notable Alumni

Doris Burke (ESPNer)

Christopher Dodd (U.S. Senate, D-Connecticut) (Sen. Dodd received his law degree at University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law like yours truly. Once again, I can't speak for the distinguished Senator and former presidential candidate, but I promise I’m cheering for the Cards in this one.)

Billy Donovan – Head Coach of Florida Gators; University of Kentucky’s FIRST choice to replace Tubby Smith, respectfully declined (that means “said ‘no’” for you folks joining us from Kentucky Sports Radio)

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

Probable Starters

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.

G/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 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 about 60% a 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.

Bench -

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 – 12:00 noon tomorrow on ESPN

Officials - TBA

Providence beat DePaul today 83-74 to earn a visit with the Cards tomorrow. You’ll recall that the last time these teams met it was all Ville in the second half, outscoring the Friars by 19 during that period to cruise to a 94-76 victory. What you might not recall, due to your selective memory, is that Providence was up a point at halftime after shooting a ridiculous 75% from the field. This team can flat out light it up on any given night. Senior guard Weyinmi Efejuku is their go-to scorer, averaging 15.4 ppg and hitting better than 38% from trey.

Providence is a team on the proverbial bubble (“proverbial” because the team itself isn’t literally on a bubble, but the term is being expressed as something resembling something else in form) so look for them come out swinging. If they’re hot, we’re in trouble. And that’s no lie.

But the Cards should be better rested than the Friars, are riding high coming off that Big East Conference Title, and have better depth and athleticism than our foes from Rhode Island. I may or may not be biased, but I like Louisville here, 75-70.

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