As if being linked by the notorious Buddy Cianci is not enough, Marquette and Providence will square off twice in the upcoming Big East basketball season. The Golden Eagles open at Providence on Thursday night -- though we don't know if the former Providence mayor and Marquette graduate will view the game from his modestly appointed jail cell.
Regardless, the nationally ranked Golden Eagles enter the contest at 13-2, while the resurgent Friars are a solid 10-3. At this point, the game is clouded in mystery based on the uncertain status of PC's star point guard Sharaud Curry and MU's Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.
Todd Rosiak updated the situation this afternoon -- both players made the trip to Providence, but their availability for the game tomorrow remains an open issue.
Curry was suspended by Friars' head coach Tim Welsh last month and no timetable was set for his return. McNeal and Matthews were sent to the hospital earlier this week after violently knocking heads during practice. There's no word on their availability for Thursdays' game.
Now, its time to get smart on the tough-minded Providence College Friars.
For our latest installment of 'Know Your Opponent' I want to thank Richard Coren of the Friar Insider for taking the time to fill us in on what we need to know for Thursday's Big East opener.
Richard's answers are below -- and be sure to visit the Friar Insider for threads on the game. Enjoy.........
If Curry does not suit up, how will that effect the style of play for the Friars?
Richard Coren: Anything is possible, but I'm going to guess that Curry won't play against Marquette. That's obviously a problem, because he's the Friars leading scorer, as well as floor general. In addition, he has the capability to step up and hit the big shot. I don't expect the Friars to alter their style of play without Curry... others, like Dwain Williams and the freshmen guards, Brian McKenzie and Jamal Barney, will need to step up, and you'll see the ball in Geoff McDermott's hands more.
The Friars are off to a fast 10-3 start, surprising many. What has been the key to their early season success?
Richard Coren: The improvement in the younger players has been remarkable. Weyinmi Efejuku has emerged as a real threat, thanks to an improved outside shot, and McDermott is a double-double machine. In addition, Herbert Hill has continued his progression into a sometimes dominant big man. Plus, this team has real chemistry. They genuinely like each other and hate to lose.
McDermott, Curry and Efejuku have emerged as stars in their sophomore seasons. Can you break down their games for us?
Richard Coren: McDermott is a bull. A very strong player. Really cleans the boards, goes to the basket well, handles the ball, is kind of a point forward. He was a quarterback in high school, so he's tough and passes well.
Curry is a major loss. He's small, but strong, pressure doesn't faze him, he sees the floor well and gets the ball to the right guy. He also scores from all over and, like I said before, has a knack for hitting crucial shots.
Efejuku is a stud in waiting. He was always explosive going to the basket, but now, with an improvbed outside game, teams have to respect him, which enables him to blow by you to the hoop. A very athletic, acrobatic player with great body control.
Which player will surprise the most during the upcoming Big East season?
Richard Coren: I won't pick Curry or McDermott, because they were on the All-Rookie Team last year... so I'll go with Efejuku or Hill. Efejuku was basically recruited by Ivies, but he's a major talent, and Hill has really gotten stronger and more confident.
Based on style of play, which opponents to the Friars have the most success against?
Richard Coren: PC has a very strong frontcourt, so teams that are smaller will have problems with the Friars. PC can really get after it on the boards and are very physical up front.
Which opponents give the Friars the most trouble?
Richard Coren: With Curry out, guard oriented teams that can pressure the ball are a major concern. PC also has not defended the post well, so teams that can get it inside can create foul problems.
Richard, thanks very much!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Written by TB at 11:17 AM