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Rhode Island vs. Providence: 3-Point Preview

The Friars are reeling from three straight losses as the Rhode Island Rams enter the Dunkin' Donuts Center for an in-state rivalry game Wednesday night.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Out of Their Funk

This goes for Providence as a whole but also individually for LaDontae Henton. After managing only three points against Kentucky and nine points against Boston College Henton scored 16 points in the Friars' loss to Brown on Monday night but those 16 points were deceiving. He scored nine of those 16 in the first half while going 3-for-11 from the field in the second 20 minutes to finish 6-for-16 for the game. What Providence needs more than anything right now is for a leader to step forward and take control of this offense. No one is asking Henton to be Bryce Cotton because that wouldn't be possible but this team is scuffling right now and getting some good offense going would go a long way toward getting back into the groove this team was in heading into Kentucky on November 30. As a team the Friars have not had much of any offensive flow and have been overly reliant on the flex offense to get looks. Hitting a few jump shots will go a long way towards opening up their offense. Jalen Lindsey will be a key in that regard and he will likely get his second straight start in this one.

On the other side of the ball the Providence Friars have not been sharp. They got out-hustled on Monday against an undersized Brown team. The Friars were routinely beat for "50/50" balls and had too many defensive lapses including late closeouts and poor screen hedging. Some of the mental lapses can be explained by the inexperience of the freshmen who are being asked to contribute major minutes right now but the lack of effort is unacceptable. Ed Cooley needs to wake his bunch up. If a rivalry game on your home court can't do that then I don't know what will.

Kris Dunn Limiting Turnovers

19. That's the number of turnovers that Kris Dunn has over this three game losing streak. The 10 he had against Kentucky can be partially excused because he clearly wasn't 100 percent healthy and Kentucky is, well, pretty good defensively but 6 against Brown is not something that should happen. If the Friars can manage to get into a little more of an offensive rhythm that may help Dunn not over-dribble and  get exposed with some loose ball handling which has been the case of late. Rhode Island has been adept at forcing turnovers on the season with a 23.9 turnover percentage according to Kenpom.com which is good for 28th nationally.

Effort

I touched on this a little bit in the first point but this is the overall key. The Friars have lacked effort in their last two games and have seemed like they were just going through the motions at times. EC Matthews, Jared Terrell and Hassan Martin will be bringing their A effort in this game for the Rhode Island Rams and Providence needs to answer with their own A effort. Last season the Friars were a team of "Heart & Soul" but they have yet to find that kind of inspiration through 9 games this season. Ed Cooley will look to LaDontae Henton, Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris to take the leadership role on and get this team back to their winning ways from prior to the Kentucky loss. "We're not there yet and to me that's a satisfying thing when you're building a team," Cooley said after the Brown loss. Providence will be looking to get a little closer to "there" with an inspired effort against a rival on the Friars' home court.