PC, Bryant Ready For Postseason Play

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


While college basketball fans for 68 colleges and universities around the country enjoy the real “March Madness” this week, here in Rhode Island, we have our own version of “March Madness” to contend with.

While most of us will be keeping a close watch on everything that happens in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament over the next few weeks, fans of the Providence Friars and Bryant Bulldogs will anxiously watch their teams compete in the postseason as well.

Tonight, both PC and Bryant being their playoff runs with the Friars hosting Charlotte in opening round action of the NIT (7:15pm) at the Dunk. The Bulldogs will play host to Richmond tonight (7pm) at the Chace Athletic Center.

PROVIDENCE (17-14, 9-9 Big East) vs. CHARLOTTE (21-11, 8-8 Atlantic Ten):

It was quite a rollercoaster ride for the PC Friars this season. Still, given the youth of this team and the expectations coming into the season, an NIT bid is quite an accomplishment for this program and could prove to me a major building block with an eye toward a possible NCAA Tournament run next season.

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From an offensive standpoint, it all starts with Bryce Cotton (Jr.) who led the Big East in scoring this season. Two other keys for PC will be the play of senior point guard Vincent Council and junior forward Kadeem Batts. While it is a foregone conclusion that Council will be playing his final game or games in a PC uniform this postseason, any believe that this will also be the case for Batts. On schedule to graduate this spring, sources close to Batts claim that he will not be returning to the program next season despite the fact that Ed Cooley would love to have him in the fold.

However, this should also be a great experience for young players like Kris Dunn, Josh Fortune and LaDontae Henton.

The 49ers are led by talented senior forward Chris Braswell (11.9 pts, 5.5 reb) who scored 20 in the team’s A-10 tournament semifinal loss to St. Louis last week in Brooklyn. Sophomore guard Pierria Henry (10.4 pts, 5.5 reb. 3.7 assists) is also quite a talent. Unfortunately, the 49ers were hurt midseason by the loss of their leading scorer DeMario Mayfield who was dismissed form the team for a violation of athletic department policy. The junior guard was a transfer from Georgia. The team went (16-4) this season before his dismissal and has gone just (5-7) since his departure.

Just as the Friars will be a part of the new Big East Conference next year, Charlotte will be leaving the A-10 to head to Conference USA this fall.

The winner of tonight's game faces 8th-seeded Robert Morris in the second round of the NIT.  The Colonials stunned top-seeded and defending National Champion Kentucky 59-57 Tuesday night.  If PC were to win tonight, it would likelyt mean that they would, indeed, have to look into using URI's Ryan Center to host Robert Morris in round two.

BRYANT UNIVERSITY (19-11, 12-6 NEC) vs. RICHMOND (18-14, 8-8 A-10):

The Bulldogs weren’t just the best college basketball story in Rhode Island this season, they were one of the best stories in the entire country with their unbelievable turnaround from a 2-win to a 19-win team in just one season. As Bryant head coach Tim O’Shea has repeatedly said, playing in a tournament in the program’s first year of eligibility for postseason play at the D-1 level is quite an accomplishment.

While senior guard Frankie Dobbs will be wrapping up his solid career for Bryant, the rest of the key contributors to this team’s success this season will all be returning next year meaning this experience should be a good one.

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Sophomore guard Dyami Starks (17.7 pts) lead the way offensively with undersized junior big man Alex Francis (17.4 pts, 8.7 reb) leading the way down low.

However, this match-up with the Spiders will be a difficult one for Bryant. Led by a terrific senior guard Darien Brothers (14.5 pts, 43% 3pt), Richmond scored some quality wins this season over Wake Forest (ACC) and Xavier and tournament teams VCU and James Madison.

Here’s hoping the atmosphere Wednesday night at the Chace Athletic Center is similar to the one for their NEC quarterfinal round game against Mount St. Mary’s which was electric.

The winner of this game takes on the winner of the match-up between tonight's game between Wright State and Tulsa.



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