Pre-game preview: Providence

There will be several interesting storylines in tonight’s game at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Here’s what to watch:

-- Sophomore Shabazz Napier is back in the starting lineup, replacing freshman Ryan Boatright at the point guard spot. Sophomore Jeremy Lamb, sophomore Roscoe Smith, junior Alex Oriakhi and freshman Andre Drummond are the other starters.

Smith is coming off one of his best games this season, finishing with 11 points and four rebounds in Saturday’s loss to No. 2 Syracuse.

“I love what he’s bringing to the table right now,” associate head coach George Blaney said. “I love his physical aspect of what he is. I love his passion. And he made some big time plays in the game the other day.”

Napier went scoreless Saturday for the second time this season. He needs to be an offensive factor tonight.

 -- Blaney vs. Blaney: George Blaney is coaching against his son Brian, an assistant at Providence College.

It is the first time in the 33-year history of the Big East that a father and son are on opposite benches.

They faced each other in 2008 when Brian was at Fairfield. UConn won, 75-55, in Hartford.

George Blaney was not looking forward to a rematch.

“It’s not going to be any fun for me,” George said.

 -- The Friars are one of the fastest teams in the league. So the Huskies must play sound transition defense and rebound the basketball.

If UConn does those two things, it should win.

 -- Expect sophomore Niels Giffey to see more playing time tonight. The coaching staff was pleased with his aggressive play against Syracuse.

 -- In other news, coach Jim Calhoun was released from the hospital today and headed home to rest and recover from Monday’s surgery. If his recovery goes well, he plans to return to coach against Pittsburgh in Saturday’s regular season finale in Storrs.

Calhoun is missing his eighth straight game tonight.

 -- New London’s Kris Dunn, a McDonald’s All-American, is expected to attend the game. He’s headed to Providence next season. And he’s close friends with Drummond. They both played for the Connecticut Basketball Club.

 -- For regular game updates, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

 

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