The Providence Friars look to keep the good times rolling in the Wooden Legacy Tournament after they defeated Evansville on Thursday night. Next up for Ed Cooley's club is the 11th-ranked Arizona Wildcats coached by good friend Sean Miller. Cooley and Miller have spent the last two summers together on the sidelines for USA Basketball, including this past summer when Miller took over head coaching duties from Billy Donovan for the U-19 team that won gold in Greece. Arizona needed overtime to defeat the winless Santa Clara Broncos in their first round game right after Providence's.
Santa Clara got a unbelievable individual effort by Jared Brownridge and his career high 44 points and he made some high difficulty shots in the half court but where he started to really get going in the first half was in transition and secondary break offense. Arizona is tall and long and they guard very well in the half court but they showed some vulnerability in transition last night and scoring in unsettled situations off turnovers or quick run ups after rebounds or made baskets will be key for Providence. Look for Ryan Fazekas to try to run the floor and plant himself on the wing looking for passes from Kris Dunn.
2. Cleaning the Glass
Arizona is one of the tallest teams in the nation and they outrebounded Santa Clara, 44-33, last night. They scored 17 second chance points off their 17 offensive rebounds and that was something that kept them in the game while Brownridge was lighting it up and the Broncos made 10 3-pointers. Providence has struggled to rebound in some games and Cooley has said they need to "gang rebound" because of their lack of size up front. The Friars will have to find a balance between pinching guards in to help rebound the defensive boards and keeping the guards up top for transition opportunities.
3. Test Tarczewski
Kaleb Tarczewski injured his left ankle last night against Santa Clara and he is officially a game time decision. Tarczewski has been dealing with nagging ankle issues leading up to the season and if he gives it a go tonight against the Friars it would be a smart play to test that ankle and make Tarczewski guard pick and roll situations and chase Providence's smaller front court players around the court. Ben Bentil was the Friars' leading scorer last night with a career high 24 points and he has he ability to stretch defenses by hitting the occasional open 3-pointer.