Friar Basketball

Friars Taking on Explosive Creighton

Marcus Zegarowski AP Associated Press

Providence is in Omaha to challenge a Creighton team that should come in with an edge after falling at Georgetown earlier this week. The Hoyas scored on seven of their final eight possessions in that one, with center Omer Yurtseven carving up the Jays to the tune of 20 points and 13 rebounds. If Providence is going to have success on Saturday afternoon (4:30pm tip), they will likely need a heavy dose of Nate Watson and Alpha Diallo on the interior.

Creighton cracked the top 25 earlier this week for the first time in over two years (#25). The Jays are 13-5 on the season, 2-3 in the Big East, and really haven’t had a bad loss. They fell to Michigan, a San Diego State group that is now the last undefeated team left in the country, at Butler, at Georgetown, and they let a home game against Villanova slip away late. The Big East’s coaches picked them to finish seventh in the conference, but perhaps should have taken a closer look at a team returning five of its top six scorers and adding a high impact transfer.

Big East fans are familiar with Creighton’s three backcourt mainstays. Mitch Ballock has long been one Big East’s best shooters. Creighton was able to pry him away from Kansas and Ballock could push to make 300 three pointers in his career. He is shooting 44% from deep.

Sophomore Marcus Zegarowski spent much of his New England prep career being overlooked, but that’s impossible now. The Tilton School product (which produced the likes of Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, Georges Niang, and former Friar Gerard Coleman), leads Creighton in both scoring (17.2) and assists per game. He’s shooting nearly 40% from deep and is terrific off of the bounce.

Ed Cooley coached Ty-Shon Alexander at the Pan American Games this summer and leaned on him heavily. He is scoring just shy of 16 points a night and making 38% from three.

Cooley is 9-6 in his career against Creighton, even with a Creighton sweep of the series a year ago. Providence won on a Kris Dunn buzzer beater in Omaha in 2016, and later Kyron Cartwright hit a last second 3-pointer for another win. The two teams played a terrific game in the 2018 Big East Tournament that PC won in overtime.

For much of the series the team that could impose its style of play was likely to come out on top.

Creighton has one of the most beautiful offenses in the league, and that continues this season. They rank 16th in the country in offensive efficiency and turn the ball over rarely (PC has feasted on opponent’s turnovers in 2019-20). The Friars have preferred to dirty this series up and force Creighton into a more physical game.

That won’t be as easy this season, thanks to a group of role players that some PC fans may not be familiar with. Denzel Mahoney has been a terrific addition for Creighton this season. He sat a year ago due to NCAA transfer rules, but prior to that he was a 19 point per game scorer at Southeast Missouri State. That was good for second in the conference. The one-time Ohio Valley freshman of the Year (he averaged 14.9 ppg as a frosh) has added a physical wing presence at 6’5, 225 pounds. Mahoney is averaging nearly 12 points per game while playing about 18 minutes. He may have gone under-recruited in high school due to an injury that sidelined him for much of his senior season.

Christian Bishop and Damien Jefferson combine to score over 17 points as well.

Of particular interest on Saturday afternoon will be the matchup of David Duke and Zegarowski. Cooley may choose to play Duke more on the bigger Alexander, but Zegarowski, Duke, and fellow sophomore AJ Reeves have a long history together. The three sophomores were each named to the NEPSAC Class AA all conference team as seniors, with Zegarowski earning the player of the year award. He may have sealed that honor with an unbelievable 57 points against South Kent in the NEPSAC semifinals. A day later, Zegarowski scored 19 second half points to lead Tilton in the title game against a St. Andrew’s team featuring Cole Swider and Syracuse’s Brycen Goodine.

Reeves and Emmitt Holt remain questionable for this one, after sitting out PC’s win over St. John’s on Wednesday. Reeves is recovering from a blow to the head in the Butler game, while Holt was injured in a practice leading up to St. John’s.

One Comment

  1. Derec Lamendola

    January 19, 2020 at 12:27 am

    Providence College Mens Basketball needs to figer this out and what we doing and i wont providence College Mens Basketball To Win This For Derec Lamendola and Come on Get This going and providence College Mens Basketball has to keep wing the BIG Esst Conference and becusee we Need to Get back and Start doing something snd Derec Lamendola iS Tickiet off snd im Mad and what is going On and i wont providence college mens Basketball We Need AJ Reeves Kris Monroe cone back and We Need Them back and what is going on

    Friar Basketball providence mens Basketball has to Win the big east east Conference and get Things going and come now and Providence College Mens Basketball needs to figer this out and And Figer it out And See what is going on and Come on now Gro UP And Be ALOT Tuffer and Derec Lamendola is All Cool now and Derec Lamendola is NOT Mad That All im am good And Cradglations to Creighton and i dont care and providence College Mens Basketball has to start Wing Games Come On Now and i think that providence College Mens basketball has to get this going and we Need to be bissie and

    Providence College Mens Basketball and we have to win things and start doing something and providnece College Mens basketball needs to do somehing and i Love MR Merdmick he Same he is nice coach and becusee Mr Merdmick Love Ed Cooley and Thery Are Friends and Im am watching the Coach Show tonnerrrow Night at 11:30 tonnerrrow Night and come on now get this going Players