Welcome to every UConn fan's (least) favorite day: Providence Day! UConn-Providence is the only New England rivalry left in the Big East since Boston Clown College escaped for the
greener pastures of the ACC. So in that way it's a special game. But on the other hand, I hate Providence, and their Snuggie-wearing mascot.
They are the Red Sox, pre-2004, to our Yankees. (I know half the UConn fanbase are Red Sox fans, but go with me on this.) Sure, we don't want Providence to win anything and we expect to beat them, but we hate losing to them because 1) it makes their season and 2) gives their fans hope and pleasure in what is generally yet another year of misery.
But, before we go on with mindless hatred, perhaps we should learn a little bit about the Friars in advance of tonight's 7 p.m. tip-off at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. To help us out, we caught up with Dave from FriarBlog, and asked for his insights on Keno Davis, Sharaud Curry, and how South Florida (SOUTH FLORIDA?) came back from a nine-point deficit in the final minute.
Dave quizzed me as well, and you can see my answers to his questions here. On with the Q&A.
TheUConnBlog: Give us your best anti-UConn screed. I don't know that it can top that one hilarious/sadly jealous guy from the Providence Scout forum (which I'm sure you've read before), but let's hear it.
FriarBlog: I don' think I want to even compete with the epic "Why We Hate UCONN" post (which I know you have won titles since it was written blah blah blah), so I am just going to give you a nice Sports Guy-like reverse jinx. The Huskies are firing on all cylinders right now. Do you even think they will lose another game this season?
I don't think they will. Could a team comprised of 3 John Walls and 2 Wesley Johnsons even come within 30 points of beating UConn? You better get some extra cases of Zima, because methinks you will be celebrating a BIG EAST regular season championship, and BIG EAST Tournament, and a National Championship. I'm pretty sure they will just cancel the NIT and CBI and just award them both to Connecticut.
(Ed.: Somewhere, Porter is nodding his head in agreement, wondering how you can reverse jinx someone by telling the truth. Homer.)
TUB: Relatedly, is this Providence's biggest game of each regular season? I might guess URI is bigger, but I truly have no idea. Also, who do you hate more - Boston College or UConn?
FB: Since I'm not originally from Rhode Island (Jersey baby, beat the beat up! [Ed.: JERSEYYYYYYYYYYYY!]) or live there now, I would definitely consider the UConn game the biggest of the season. The URI game is indeed huge for the state and has a great history. Did you know that each year there are approximately 75 deaths attributed to messageboard gang wars between the two factions? There was actually some discussion this year on whether or not the series would be renewed, since PC usually has little to gain by winning and has generally has more to lose. I hope they work something out for the sake of RI basketball.
Wow, who do I hate more, UConn or BC? I think you just blew my mind sir. I mean, who would you rather hook up with, Snookie or JWOWW [Ed.: If you're trying to say Boston College is a short, odd-faced tramp, then I accept this comparison. Also, J-Woww's kind of cute.]? Since the Eagles left the BIG EAST, my hatred for them has certainly waned compared with years past. We still play them once a year and I still hate their effing guts and their fans, but I can never root for them in a million years. Believe it or not, I root for UConn (and all BIG EAST teams) come NCAA tournament time, so I guess it's safe to say I despise BC more.
TUB: On to this year's Friars. First question, since it's most recent: South Florida? Really?
FB: You would think a 9 point lead would hold up at home with :46 seconds left on the clock, wouldn't you? So many things went wrong in the final two minutes, and if I try to explain it here it would just appear I was typing whilst foaming at the mouth. Our defense basically crumbled, our freshman PG missed three out of four foul shots, and we made bonehead turnovers at the worst possible time.
Dominique Jones is damned good and all, but would you think he would ever come TWO POINTS shy of the BIG EAST scoring record? Our defense tends to bring that out in players. Hey, at least that scoring record stayed with Providence (Eric Murdock, 48 points in 1991 biatches!).
There were so many other ridiculous things about that game that drove everyone mad. It was USF's 3rd BIG EAST road win after DePaul and Rutgers. You know that no name guy who hit the tying three with a second left? Yeah that was his 2nd career three pointer. As the final kick in the pants, the game was considered PC's last winnable game. Fun times all around!
TUB: What are your expectations for the remainder of the Friars' season?
FB: It's clear that this season is no longer about the W's and L's. Especially not the W's, since I can't say for sure there will be many more this season. I mean, the Friars went 3-4 in the "easy" part of the conference schedule. Our next eight games are a pretty rough stretch, so I'm just hoping the team makes it to the BIG EAST Tournament in one piece.
Basically, I just want to see improvement from the young guys in the last few months, and maybe someone (ANYONE) just taking leadership of the team. Showing some signs of an actual defense would be spectacular. Also, it would be nice to see at least one nice upset the rest of the season. Is that too much to ask? (Ed.: Yes.)
TUB: What's the future look like at Providence? Is Keno Davis in this for the long haul? Can he get the job done recruiting as the small Catholic fish in the large football-school pond?
FB: What's this "football" thing you speak of?? Keno is definitely in it for the long haul, and his recruiting is the only thing that keeps us Friar fans from wanting to jerk the wheel into a goddamn bridge embankment every time they get in the car.
This year was a little crazy since he had to fill 7 scholarships in such a short amount of time, but Vincent Council especially was a huge get for the program. Next season, Davis has two Top-100 recruits (both guards) coming in. Gerard Coleman is one of the best New England prep players this year, and is going to be an impact player (on both ends of the court!).
Joseph Young (son of former NBA player Michael Young) is the best player on the best high school team in the country (Yates in Texas). Providence is also involved heavily in a ton of big recruits for the 2012 class, so it's clear that Keno and his staff are committed to getting top talent to the school. NCAA Tournament 2012 or bust!!
TUB: Sharaud Curry has been at Providence roughly since I started middle school. (I was also surprised that Randall "I Need A" Hanke didn't return for his 11th season.) He's had less usage and production than Jamine Peterson and Marshon Brooks this year, but is he pretty much the go-to guy on what appears to be a very young team? How would you assess his play this year?
Sharaud Curry's approval rating in Friartown this season has dropped off an effing giant cliff, and then some. As a 5th year senior, Curry has not been the team leader we hoped he would be. It didn't help that he played like absolute poop in out of conference play. Curry's scoring production has picked up considerably since BIG EAST play started, but he has always been a yuuuge defensive liability.
I'm not sure if you heard Keno Davis' press conference (in which he said the team basically doesn't have the talent to compete in the leauge), but he talked about not playing guys "who can score 15 but give up 25". That doesn't really narrow it down among PC players, but Keno was definitely referring to Curry there (among others). As the year has gone on, freshman Vincent Council is getting the ball more and looking like the veteran most of the time. You can count on at LEAST two passes a game from him where you just go..."Woh".
I wish Sharaud Curry the best, but VC is the future of the team.
TUB: The Providence defense the last two games has been pretty bad (Marquette scored 93 points on 67 possessions, South Florida 109 on 82). What's the cause and is it something fixable?
FB: The Providence defense has been bad all season (and for most of the last 10 years for that matter), and there doesn't appear to be an easy answer in sight. Like Keno said, his best scorers are his worst defenders. The team just needs to completely change their mindset and play on both ends of the court. Our veteran guys haven't really played good D for 3 or 4 years, so it's pretty hard to change overnight.
I think that as Keno gets more experience and continues to grow and learn as a coach, coupled with new talented guys coming in willing to give it their all on defense, the Friars will be able to play some good defense in the future. But right now? Not so much unfortunately.
TUB: And finally, how about a score prediction?
FB: As much as I just complained and bashed the team, I think the Friars come out motivated and give the Huskies everything they got behind a roudy DUNK crowd. Gotta stay positive!
Thanks again to Dave for helping us out. Check out the FriarBlog for all of your Friar-related needs both pre- and post-game tonight.