It has been 25 years since Billy Donovan led Providence to the Final Four under the tutelage of his coach Rick Pitino. Donovan will now face his mentor Saturday in Phoenix with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
The Gators (26-10) will play the Louisville Cardinals (29-9) in an Elite 8 matchup which will decide who will represent the West Region in the Final Four. It will be the Gators fourth Elite 8 appearance in the last seven years.
Donovan is winless in six tries against Pitino in his coaching career, a streak which will have to end if the Gators are going to make fifth trip to the Final Four and fourth under Donovan.
Pitino’s influence can be seen throughout Donovan’s style of play, from the use of the press and the three-point line. This means that both teams will use similar styles and will matchup pretty evenly with each other.
Louisville presents a balanced offensive attack with six players averaging over nine points a game, led by senior guard Kyle Kuric with 12.9 ppg. The Cardinals have a dynamic sixth-man in sophomore guard Russ Smith who provides more than a spark off the bench with 11.4 ppg and a team leading 84 steals.
Patric Young will have to prevent his physical game from being altered by the 6-foot-11 presence of the Cardinals sophomore center Gorgui Dieng, who was the Big East leader with 123 blocked shots. Young’s experience of having faced Anthony Davis of Kentucky, a similar player in height and defensive ability should help him in handling Dieng.
Besides Dieng, the Cardinals do not have another player in their rotation over 6-foot-8 and therefore should not cause problems from the Gators lack of size.
The operator of Louisville’s offense is junior guard Peyton Siva, a true point guard who looks for the option to pass first almost every time. The Gators defense must be aware of Siva’s passing ability and his intention to create open looks for his teammates.
Both teams will look to speed up the game and create turnovers with their press, which will likely produce a hectic atmosphere and constant play up and down the court. Whichever team can find more of a rhythm at that pace will be the one on top at the end.
Please use theregistration to leave a Reply