Miami Basketball Faces Crossroads Tonight
When the schedule came out this summer coaches, fans, and players alike pointed to tonight's game Vs the Friars at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, as an opportunity. Providence would be very good out of conference foe, and a chance to boost the RPI perhaps. A measuring stick if you will. And a chance for Coach L to face his alma mater in a unique venue. Suddenly this game is a whole lot more than that.
By season's end there is a pretty good chance that the winner of tonight's crucial contest between Miami and Providence at Barclay's center in Brooklyn, will look back at this contest as a major boost to their NCAA chances.
The loser however, will see a missed opportunity. Perhaps the one thing that sends them to the NIT and not the NCAA's.
Of course both teams still have a lot they can accomplish in their respective conferences, however tonight provides that last shot at boosting their OOC resumes.
To learn more about the importance to both teams, what Providence brings to the table, their best players, and more, we caught up with Mike Hopkins from Big East Coast Bias, SBN's site on all things BE.
Here is the full Q&A:
SOTU: The Friars are 9-3, including wins over ACC Teams Florida State and Notre Dame and a (somewhat) competitive loss against consensus #1 Kentucky. But they also have losses to Boston College and Brown of all teams. What is the true identity of this squad? Are they more the team that hung with the Cats and beat a very good Fighting Irish team, or the one that lost to what appears to be an also ran in the Ivy League?
SOTU: 6'6 wing LaDontae Henton is crazy good. For those who have never seen him play, can you describe his game? Which other players on Providence should 'Canes fans keep an eye on?
As for other players to keep an eye on, Kris Dunn is in the midst of a really good stretch. He is averaging 18.6 points/game, 6.2 assists/game, 6.0 rebounds/game and 4.0 steals/game over his last 5 outings. Tyler Harris came off the bench for the first time this season on Saturday against UMass and it seemed to help the redshirt junior as he played more under control and let the game come to him. He scored 12 points in 16 minutes against the Minutemen. After that it's a barrage of freshmen and they have all been contributing in different ways of late. Ben Bentil replaced Harris in the starting lineup and provides rebounding and toughness down low. Kyron Cartwright began the year starting alongside Dunn in the backcourt and he and fellow freshman Paschal Chukwu have developed a nice alley-oop rapport. Jalen Lindsey is probably the team's best 3-point shooter but needs to gain more confidence and seek shots.
SOTU: What are the overall strengths and weaknesses of the Friars? What kind of pace do they like to play?
SOTU: Which players and match-ups on the 'Canes concern you the most?
BECB: My biggest concern is Sheldon McClellan. He's the kind of player that can give Providence problems. The Friars have been very good this year at shutting down a team's best player but very few of those teams have a reliable secondary option. So if Angel Rodriguez is the focus of the defense then McClellan may be able to pick up that slack. The other thing that worries me is the offensive glass so a player like Tonye Jekiri could pose a threat on 2nd chance points down low.
SOTU: With this game being played in Brooklyn, who does that favor? Or is it a true neutral site game?
SOTU: Tell us about the revamped Big East? Who/how many teams are expected to compete for NCAA Berths? Where does Providence fit in the pecking order?
SOTU: Last but not not least, how do you this game playing out? Who wins and why?