Friar Basketball

Why Providence Will Upset Notre Dame (and why they probably won’t)

Why Providence Will Beat Notre Dame:

Depth: In Notre Dame’s win over UCLA starting guards Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough played 39 minutes, as did Luke Harangody.  In their loss to Loyola-Marymount Harangody played a full 40, Jackson 38, Hansbrough 37, and forward Tim Abromaitis 36.  In their loss to Northwestern it was more of the same: Harangody 39, Hansbrough 38, Jackson 40.

In both the UCLA and Loyola games only one player scored off of the bench and only two saw minutes.

If ever there was a game that presented itself to Keno Davis’ run and gun style this is it.  The Irish aren’t athletic and with 11 players consistently getting minutes for Davis, the Friars would be best served to sprint into the open court and and force the action inside in the halfcourt set.

The rim will be open.  While Notre Dame sports a big frontline, Harangody is their only true bruiser. The 6’8 230 pound Tyrone Nash only averages 5 rebounds per game and has one blocked shot in his last six games.

Abromaitis is 6’8, 235, a perimeter big who will kill you from 3, but won’t be counted on for more than a handful of rebounds.  He has four blocks in 13 games.

Reserve forward Carleton Scott is the only member of the Irish averaging a block a game.

Loyola-Marymount shot 52% against them on 12/12.  A stumbling UCLA squad shot 58% in the first half.  The Irish did hold Northwestern to 43% for the game, but allowed 42 points and 48% shooting in a 2nd half in which ND let the game get away.

They are blocking 3.5 shots per game, while an underwhelming PC D is swatting 5 per.

3’s will be there.  ND’s opponents are shooting just shy of 40% from 3 against them this year and making over seven per game.  To put that in perspective, a struggling Friar defense is holding opponents to 30% from 3 and 5.1 made per game.

If Providence shoots 40% from 3 or somehow manages to keep the Irish below 35% (they are hitting 42% on the season) the Friars have a great shot.


Why Providence Will Not Beat Notre Dame:

Horror show halfs.  This young Friar team will quickly learn that you aren’t going to win in the Big East playing a terrible half.  After holding Alabama to 29% shooting in the first half the Tide shot 53% in the 2nd.

Boston College ran out to an 11 point halftime lead after shooting 54% in the 1st half.

PC was a miserable 30% in the 2nd half against Mercer.  Northeastern shot 55% in the 2nd half.  PC shot 58% in the 1st half against URI and 37% in the 2nd.  Iona’s shooting percentage jumped from 39% to 59% from half one to two.

You get the picture.  Providence can’t play well in pockets starting tomorrow night.  They will, it’s what young teams looking for an identity do, but the sooner they start to put together 35 good minutes of basketball, instead of 20-25, they will start to win close games.

The Irish can really shoot.  Five of the seven ND regulars shoot over 50% from the field.  Ridiculous.  Hansbrough and Abromaitis continue the tradition of Notre Dame shooters, both hitting at over 50% from 3.  All frightening for Friar fans questioning if this team can defend at all.

Harangody: Who covers this guy once Bilal Dixon picks up two quick fouls?  What a horrible position to put Ray Hall in if Russ Permenter proves he can’t handle him.  Say what you will about Jon Kale and Geoff McDermott, but it will be one of the few games this year when Friar fans might actually miss them.

The double-double machine got into foul trouble a year ago in Providence and only played 24 minutes.  Frighteningly, he put up 18 and 8 in just over a half of action.  What will he do this year to less experienced kids, playing 38 minutes?

Welcome to the Big East, rookies.  Seven Friars make their Big East debutes tomorrow night in a building that ND had won nearly 50 in a row in prior to having their streak snapped a year ago.



While South Bend is a tough opener for the young Friars this crowd won’t be any more hostile than Rhode Island and the Friars have been on the road four times already.

Personnel-wise, this is one of the better matchups when Keno ball is really rolling.  The eyes of a fast-breaking, rim attacking, up tempo team should widen when they play a team without much depth, a single shot blocker, or much athleticism.

If I’m Keno Davis I’m drilling attacking the basket into the heads of Marshon Brooks, Greedy Peterson and Vincent Council.  They won’t be able to slow Harangody, but they can get their bench involved early by drawing fouls, a bench that Mike Brey simply hasn’t played in close games.  This ND team isn’t as experienced as the one that overcame Harangody’s foul trouble in Providence a year ago.  What happens if he goes to the bench early again?  Attack, attack, attack.

While ND hasn’t defended the 3 well to this point of the season, turning this one into an outside shooting contest is playing into the hands of ND.  Even if they are hitting early, it might be a long night if PC starts chucking from deep.

PC hasn’t done much in the past two contests to instill confidence in their fanbase as they head on the road to face the Big East’s preseason player of the year.  There isn’t much reason to believe Providence will be able to slow Harangody or their shooters, but this will be one of the BE games in which PC has an athletic advantage.  Do they crash the boards and run, or does this turn into a halfcourt game in which they try to match 3s?


Key Matchup:

Greedy Peterson versus Tyrone Nash – Nash is a solid defender in the paint, but is he athletic enough to stay with Peterson?  Notre Dame better hope so because they might not have anyone else who can check him.  I don’t think this guy can.  After Nash ND doesn’t have many options.

Greedy has 5 double doubles in his last 7 games, with the two non double doubles coming with 22 and 9 and 18 and 9 efforts against Brown and Northeastern.

Will Peterson continue to be the 18 and 11 guy he has been through 12 games?  If so, ND has a potential problem on their hands.

Asking Greedy to continue to be an 18 and 11 guy, or even a 15 and 10 guy would be asking him to put up one of the best statistical seasons in Friar Big East history.  Providence hasn’t had a player average a double double since Michael Smith’s 12.9 and 11.5 in 1993-94 (and don’t bother looking up Ryan Gomes stats, the closest he came was with 9.7 rebounds in 2002-03)