Friar Basketball

Weekly Primer

Nate Watson Dunk GoLocal

Following a difficult 78-74 loss at Creighton on Saturday, Providence will take on Seton Hall in Newark in what could be their stiffest test of the season.

The Pirates entered this past week ranked 18th in the country, but could vault to the top ten following a 2-0 week that included wins at #5 Butler (78-70), and in a tight one at MSG against St. John’s (82-79).

Kevin Willard’s group is the only Big East team left without a loss in conference play (6-0). They are are riding an eight game winning streak overall. Star guard Myles Powell eclipsed the 2,000 point mark against St. John’s on Saturday, a game in which they rallied from a 13 point deficit.

What makes this team scary is that they’ve surrounded their star with a deep core and terrific shot blocking. Romaro Gill has turned into a complete game changer on the defensive end. The 7’2 shot blocker finished Saturday with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and six blocked shots. Gill’s offense has been a surprise (averaging over 12 ppg and shooting over 70% in Big East play), and he leads the conference in blocked shots in league games (3.2).

Senior point guard Quincy McKnight is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and he is averaging 8.8 assists per game (conference games) — by far the best in the Big East. Three Pirates are shooting over 40% from deep in Big East games and none of them are named Myles Powell. Myles Cales is at 46%, Jared Rhoden 45%, and McKnight 41%. The Hall leads the league in scoring, is first in field goal percentage, and first in field goal percentage against.

Providence played Seton Hall tough last year — winning at the Dunkin Donuts Center before falling late in Newark.

The Friars then return home on Saturday to take on second place Villanova. The Wildcats are 10-1 in their last 11 games, with wins over then-#1 Kansas, a comeback at Creighton, and a narrow victory over UConn on Saturday highlighting this stretch.

Side note: UConn head man Dan Hurley doesn’t see his team losing much going forward.

Five of Jay Wright’s players average in double figures in scoring, led by emerging sophomore Saddiq Bey. The 6’8 wing has shot the ball well this year — 50% from the field, 80% at the line, and 45% from three. Point guard Collin Gillespie is the engine, junior Jermaine Samuels has proven to be at his best late in games, while McDonald’s All American Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a highly skilled power forward averaging over 10 points and nine rebounds a game. Fellow freshman Justin Moore is impressive. He’s averaging over 10 points per game and looks like he will be one of the best players in the league in the near future. Moore plays with great poise and has a knack for scoring.

Rhode Island native Cole Swider is in his second year with the program and is shooting 42% from 3, 49.5% from the field, and nearly 86% at the free throw line. Nova shoots over 77% at the free throw line as a team.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello released his weekly power rankings on Sunday night, and he listed Seton Hall #7 in the country and Villanova #8. Butler was placed 14th in Borzello’s 16 team rankings.

Perhaps the biggest game in the Big East this week takes place on Tuesday night when Butler travels to Philadelphia to take on Villanova. Butler will be looking to snap a two game losing streak after being ranked #5 nationally heading into last week. The Bulldogs were drilled on Saturday by a DePaul team that had started 0-4 in Big East games.

DePaul is one of three Big East teams with one conference win so far, joining 1-5 St. John’s and 1-4 Xavier.


  1. Bill Loney

    January 22, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Who lets the 5 year-old post on here?

  2. Anonymous

    January 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Great analysis Derec! Love your insider perspective! Keep it up!

  3. Pazhoohesh

    January 27, 2020 at 5:31 am


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