Marquette looks to shake off the rust against improving Providence squad

When Providence comes to town tomorrow, coach Buzz Williams expects Marquette to have its hands full despite the Friars 10-9 record.

“Their record is not an indicator of the job that coach (Ed Cooley) has done with those guys,” Williams said. “I think with their injuries, they’ve never had a full roster and I think it’s been hard for him to manage all of that.”

Providence started the year 8-2, but its biggest win during that stretch was probably a 73-62 win over Mississippi State on Dec. 1. Marquette beat the Bulldogs 89-62 in the consolation round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 20.

The Friars then lost their next five games, including an 83-73 home decision against DePaul before rebounding with a 67-55 win at Seton Hall. Providence also beat Villanova at home last Saturday before falling to Pittsburgh at home on Tuesday.

Marquette, meanwhile, hasn’t played since a 71-69 overtime loss at Cincinnati Saturday and Williams said it has been tough not playing after such a tough loss.

“I’ve never been a fan of bye weeks because it alters your rhythm, but we play Saturday afternoon and we’re off on Sunday and then as I begin to prepare for Providence, the first thing I want to do is look at their stats but also study all the advanced stats,” Williams said.

Providence ranks in the bottom half of many of Ken Pomeroy’s advanced statistics, but do rank No. 30 in offensive rebounding percentage (37.7 percent) and allow its opponents to shoot just 27.9 percent from beyond the arc, the No. 10 mark in the country.

Sophomore forward LaDontae Henton (8.1 rebounds per game) and junior forward Kadeem Batts (7.3 rebounds per game) will likely give Marquette a tough time on the glass, as the Friars outrebound their opponents by more than four rebounds per game.

Providence also features the conference’s leading scorer, Bryce Cotton, who puts up 21.9 points per game while still shooting 47.5 percent from the field. Batts is next on the team at 14.5 points per game and the Friars have four players who tally at least 10 points per night.

There isn’t much depth on the team, however, as only three players have played all 19 games. Vincent Council, who seems like he has been on the team forever, has missed 10 games this year, but is still averaging 6.6 assists per game.

Marquette has been able to play nine, sometimes 10 players per night, something the Friars could only dream of doing.

“I think when all of our guys are at an optimum level, I like the fact that we can play nine or 10 guys,” Williams said. “But I don’t like when I’m having to play nine or 10 guys to figure out which six or seven are actually effective.”

Williams said one of the keys for Marquette is creating more possessions because of how unique the team is this year.

“Because possessions for us are so monumental, we’re trying to figure out how to create more possessions or how can we not give away possessions,” Williams. “Offensive rebounding, turnover percentage, all of those things I want to know as we’re going through the game.”

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