PC Set to Face Creighton in Big East Tournament Quarterfinal
Thursday, March 08, 2018
Joe Calabro, GoLocalProv Sports Team
|Friars face Creighton in first round of Big East Tournament|
“We are in a good spot. We have the ability to control where we end up. We are going to face a tough Creighton team and we are going to need to play tough and focused,” said PC head coach Ed Cooley during the Friars media availability on Monday.
Game time is set for 2:30 p.m.
PC vs Creighton This Season
The Friars and Blue Jays met two times in the regular season, each team winning on their home court.
The first meeting came on December 31, 2017, in Nebraska with Creighton cruising past Providence 83-64.
The Friars were in the game early before Kyron Cartwright reinjured his ankle and missed most of the first half. PC shot just 38% from the field and 13% from three.
In the second meeting on January 20, the Friars cruised past the Blue Jays 85-71 behind a double-double from Alpha Diallo.
In the game, the Friars would lead 67-56 with 7:33 to play, before holding off Creighton to win their fourth straight game.
Since missing the game against DePaul due to illness, Lindsey is just 6-of-27 from three, including 0-for-3 in each of PC’s last two games.
In his career, Lindsey has shot the ball well at The Garden, knocking down 46% of his threes - a good sign for the Friars.
A big key in this game will be for PC to beat Creighton on the boards.
When the Friars grab rebounds on the defensive end, it often leads to fast break offense and easy points.
In the last game against Creighton, PC outrebounded the Blue Jays by a significant margin, 40-27, including 33-20 on the defensive end.
Freshman Nate Watson and sophomore Kalif Young will be the keys to winning the rebound battle.
NCAA Tournament Ramifications
The Friars enter the Big East Tournament just inside the NCAA Tournament bubble.
“I’m always optimistic, I think we are a tournament team. I think we have had some tough losses, but we had some great wins. I still think we are the only team in the conference to be both Nova and Xavier. If we go down there and win, there will be no question,” said Cooley.
As of Wednesday, March 7, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Friars as a ten seed and playing Arkansas in the first round.
He projects the Friars as one of the last four teams with a bye.
CBS’ Jerry Palm projects the Friars as an 11 seed, and also playing Arkansas in the first round.
Earlier this week, both Palm and Lunardi told GoLocalProv in a phone interview that they don’t believe the Friars need to win Thursday to get in.
“I’m not sure they have to win and there is no way to know that, but I still think their odds are better than 50/50 if they don’t. I just think their good wins and the number of them are better than the other teams at the end of the line,” said Lunardi of PC's wins over Villanova and Xavier.
Palm added, “their [PC] chances of getting in are pretty good. If they go out in the first game against Creighton they will probably be a double-digit seed or could be out entirely, but I don’t think so. I don’t think their situation it is quite that bad.”
While Palm and Lunardi project the Friars in the tournament no matter what happens, a loss would likely drop PC to an 11-seed and potentially a First Four game.
Kyron Cartwright - Senior
Kyron Cartwright was ranked as the sixth-best guard in the country and the second-best guard in the Big East by CBS Sports.
He was also named to the preseason All-Big East second team at Big East media day.
"Kyron is the fastest player in the Big East, he can distribute the ball, he was 4th in the league in assists last season, so he can make things happen," said Hassett.
In 2016-17, Cartwright averaged 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in the regular season helping the Friars to a third-place finish in the conference.
He finished the season ranked fourth in the country and first in the Big East with 6.7 assists per game.
Coming into this season, Cartwright is tied with John Linehan with 450 career assists. He has a chance to climb as high as second all-time and pass Ernie DeGregorio who recorded 662 career assists.
Vincent Council is number one with 725 career assists.
Alpha Diallo - Sophomore
Alpha Diallo will look to build off a freshman season in which he started 16 games for the Friars.
He averaged 5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes of action per game. At the end of the year, the team named him the Marvin Barnes Defensive Player of the Year.
Diallo started his freshman season coming off the bench and playing inconsistent minutes through the first eight games.
By PC's fifth Big East Conference game, he was in the starting lineup and would stay there.
Diallo finished the season reaching double figures in five of the Friars final 12 games, including 18 points against both Villanova and St. John's.
Jalen Lindsey - Senior
Jalen Lindsey has missed the entire preseason with a knee injury.
Lindsey returned to practice on Wednesday and will be a game-time decision for Friday, according to Cooley.
If Lindsey can't go, senior Isaiah Jackson will take his place in the starting lineup.
Last season with PC, Lindsey averaged 10.4 points, four rebounds and one steal in 31 minutes of action per game.
He also shot 46% from three.
Rodney Bullock - Senior
Rodney Bullock returns to the Friars this season after testing the NBA Draft waters last March, before pulling his name out.
Prior to the start of this season, Bullock was named second-team all-Big East.
"With Rodney Bullock, he has to be consistent. He has to come out and give it to you every night. With this team, there is no reason why he shouldn't average 17 points and get 8-10 rebounds per game. He has to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor," said Hassett.
In 2016-17, Bullock led Providence in scoring and rebounding with an average of 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
He also led PC with five double-doubles on the year and scored at least 20 points in nine games, including a career-high 36 points against New Hampshire.
In PC’s NCAA Tournament game against USC, Bullock poured in 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Kalif Young - Sophomore
"The Holt injury is a major problem. He is the toughest player on the team, the best rebounder, and a post up guy that they don’t have. He is also good outside guy that can stretch the defense. Plus, you lose the experience," said Hassett.
Holt's absence means 6'9" sophomore Kalif Young will open the season at center.
"He has a tremendous opportunity now with Holt gone to get more minutes then he would have gotten. The reliance on him now is bigger. With Emmitt out there he didn’t have to play important minutes, now he has to play important minutes," said Hassett.
In his freshman season with the Friars, Young averaged 3.2 points, 3.2 rebounds 0.5 blocked shots in 13 minutes of action per game.