Game 9 Preview: Providence Friars vs Rhode Island Rams

Fasten your seat belts, Rhody Nation. The Rams haven’t played since Saturday, so the anticipation has been building for this one. We already chatted with a few PC bloggers over the past few days to try and get the best coverage possible for tonight’s tilt. But really, what do you need to get pumped up for PC, other than, “IT’S PC!” We always thought that Coach Baron got the Rams fired up to play Providence, so now it’s Dan Hurley’s turn. Other than that, the Friars are a team that needs no introduction. Let’s get right to it:

Providence College
Mascot: Friars
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Conference: Big East Conference
2011-12 Record: 15-17 (4-14)

The Friars’ 6-2 record so far this season seems a little more intimidating than it actually is. Their six wins have come over the mighty NJIT (by one point), Bryant, UNC-Ashville, Fairfield, Holy Cross, and 3-5 Mississippi State. BE INTIMIDATED BY THIS MONSTER SCHEDULE! Their two losses have come to UMass and a not-very-good Penn State team (4-4, just got blown out by La Salle 82-57). So there’s that. As for who’s playing for PC tonight, the short answer is “Who the hell knows?”. But here’s what we think:

Projected Starting Lineups

Rhode Island
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Ryan Brooks, Sr, #33, 6’8″, 220
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205

G: Josh Fortune, Fr, #4, 6’5″, 195
G: Ted Bancroft, Jr, #22, 6’5″, 200
F: LaDontae Henton, So, #23, 6’6″, 215
F: Lee Goldsbrough, Jr, #21, 6’9″, 225
F: Kadeem Batts, Jr, #10, 6’9″, 245

So the conventional wisdom is the Friars will only have six players tonight: the five above, plus walk-on Brice Kofane. The word is that highly recruited freshman Kris Dunn and stud guard Bryce Cotton will not be playing due to injury. But then we saw this:

and this:

Is any of this true? Are Zagoria’s and Hartnett’s sources complete BS? Is this gamesmanship by the Ed Cooley staff, floating rumors to try and throw off the URI game plan? We tend to think it’s the latter of the three, but no one is going to know anything until game time – all the more reason to be glued to your seat before tip-off.

Here’s what we do know: Kadeem Batts is a beast that needs to be contained if Rhody is going to have a chance at winning this one. The junior big man is averaging 17 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. It doesn’t really matter if Dunn plays or Cotton plays or if the Friar mascot is in the staring lineup – the game plan for PC is going to be to get the ball to Batts. Rhody needs to deny him the ball as much as possible, because if he gets it, Brooks/Hare/Aaman are going to have their hands full. The Providence big man is someone to keep an eye on early and often if Rhody is going to pick up the W.

Aside from that, we know the Friars are dealing with depth issues. If Dunn and/or Cotton play, they can’t be 100%. So Rhody needs to run, run, and run some more. Their biggest advantage in this one is depth – likely the only time this season you’ll hear that phrase. If they can press the ball up the court and tire this PC squad out, they’ll be looking at a win.

Which would be awesome. Because we don’t much like the Friars.

Tags: Basketball Providence Friars Rhode Island Rams

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