This is a guest post by Ryan M., the proprietor of the sports blog “
The State of Friars Basketball” “RI Sports Coverage”. After PC’s latest loss to Cincinnati, he wrote this piece in as a way of letting out some of his frustrations. While you will occasionally see me try to make funnies out of our bad performances this season, I consider myself a Keno Davis supporter who thinks things are on the up and up (despite our record and defense recent play). I think it is good to get a well thought out, different perspective from the fan base on here. Friarblog is not FOX News damnit!
On behalf of Friar Nation,
I write this on behalf of us, forever Friar fans for whatever reason, that for one reason or another find ourselves disappointed and upset with the State of Friars basketball. As some of you may know, my name is Ryan, and I had frequently blogged about the team through December and early January. Not being a Providence College student, I do not have the luxury of in-depth analysis while at school, and being busy at my own school, do not have time to maintain a full-functioning blog. However, that does not take away from my love of the Friars. Going to school in Worcester, I will only miss four home games this season, due to class commitments. If that does not show my commitment than I do not know what will.
However, that is not why I write this to be shown on Friarblog. I decided to write this to talk about in my opinion, the voice of the fan, as to where do we stand now? Friarblog happens to be a great outlet where Friar fans may be able to associate their feelings to my own or others, and is a great place to find information on the “state of the Friars”. My personal feelings right now about the Friars is one of disappointment, of anger, of dissatisfaction. We have senior leaders who rarely lead, we have superstars who think they are too good to play as a team rather than isolating and trying to do it all by themselves, we have juco-players who could barely play significant minutes in Division 3, and all-together have a team of “misfits” who the coach says, “Just aren’t good enough”, and at this point I find it hard not to agree with him. However, where Keno has a chance to change that, I just get to spend large amounts of money on a team that “aren’t good enough”, and that really pisses me off.
As much as we rave about Vincent Council and the recent emergence of Duke Mondy, Keno Davis and his staff really missed on Johnny Lacy, James Still, Russ Permenter, and Kyle Wright. These are players who were supposed to give us tremendous depth, but combined can rarely get over ten minutes a game. Lacy was supposed to be this lightning-quick athlete at both ends of the court, but when he is out on the court, it looks like he is lost in a toy store. James Still is this lanky kid who can barely run without tripping over his own feet, and cannot even catch the ball when he is in the post. Permenter was supposed to be this rugged kid from Texas who was a tremendous shot blocker, but the only thing he blocks is his teammates from stealing his seat at the end of the bench. Kyle Wright was supposed to be a deadeye shooter, but even he cannot shoot his way off the bench and take minutes from Brian McKenzie. All this depth we were supposed to be acquiring has all busted, leaving our team in a less than desirable state for next season. Hoping Coleman and Young can carry the torch as freshman is truly a tall task, and Giplaye appears to be nothing more than a 6-6 version of Ray Hall. Yikes!
The performance of this team is one that cannot be told through statistics. Did you know Brian McKenzie shoots nearly 40% from the floor? I know I did not without looking at the statistics. Yet we all hate him, including myself. Why? Because he plays over twenty minutes a game, does nothing to create a shot, plays lackluster defense, and does little to help the team on both sides of the ball, but this is supposed to be a senior leader, a captain? If you had not watched last night’s game and just saw the score, you would probably say that it must have been a good game and that the Friars only lost by 4 on the road in which Cincy was favored by 7. Again, that does not tell the story of our disappointment. The Friars led by 8 on multiple occasions in the first half, but could not put Cincinnati away, but the Friars did not have the will power to withstand a 16-1 (?) Cincinnati run in the second half which is when I turned the game off. I do not care if the Friars came back from 145 points down to fall by 4 points, as the way they were playing they should not have been down big in the first place. However, the team just became content and things went bad real fast. Again, statistics are deceptive and do not tell the story, but I guess you learn that when you are a die-hard Friar fan.
No one wants to play defense. The correct term for the defense the Friars play would be the “Olay Zone”. Anytime someone goes hard to the basket, forget trying to take a charge. Guys like Marshon Brooks, Brian McKenzie, and Sharaud Curry just let them through uncontested and stick their hands out in a half-ass effort so they can at least say, “Hey, I tried”. As much as I disliked Geoff McDermott, that kid worked his ass off to make sure he put his whole body on the line every game. How many times a game do you say, “How the hell did that guy get so wide-open?” But no matter what Keno says, rarely does it appear that there is any emphasis on defense, and that is frustrating to watch as a fan.
The excuses that this is a young team are wearing quite thin with me. Your starters consist of a 5th year senior, another senior, a 3rd year sophomore, and a 2nd year freshman, and a true freshman. I lay out the numbers to show that it is not like these kids are all new to the world of collegiate basketball. Only two freshmen play meaningful minutes, whereas it would sound like you are fielding a team of all freshmen from some of the excuses I have heard Coach Davis make. Marshon Brooks coming off the bench is arguably one of the best 6th men in the league, a great move in my opinion for the Friars. But yet in games like Yale or South Florida, it is still our “youth and inexperience”, that make the Friars look like a varsity high school team, when guys like Sharaud Curry and Brian McKenzie are the ones making these critical mistakes. I guess in that aspect, I fail to be able to appeal with Keno’s reasoning on why we struggle at times. Does he not think that other teams play freshman? Hell, Wright and Stephenson looked real good last night, and despite some tough losses, I do not think I have heard Cronin complain about the youth on his team. Coaches are supposed to embrace their youth in order to build for the future, not use it as the excuse every time they lose.
Last night, I stated at halftime that we were going to lose. Dickie Simpkins hit the nail on the head near the end of the first half when he stated, “When you are 70% from three, you expect to be up 10 to 15 points, not tied.” The putrid excuses are wearing thin on me, and should be on everyone else. How can you go from dominating a rival at home to not being able to run an offensive set in the second half in a very winnable road game? How can you go from doing so much right to doing so much wrong in two games played so close together? While you might want to call it inexperience, I am going to turn it into a few other key words: Heart, Chemistry, Determination, Intensity, and Tenacity. Providence College has not seen a true team effort since 1996, and it might be another few years till we see true winners walk out of the locker room at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. In what many considered a down year, the Friars had a legitimate shot to be NIT bound, but poor home efforts in losses to South Florida and Yale will probably keep the Friars home this March. If those two losses are instead wins, the Friars have a great shot and making NIT. Now, it is going to be very challenging for them to get above the .500 mark necessary to achieve that feat. At times there is no heart, no defensive tenacity, and everyone is content with just doing it their way and not for the good of the team. I guess that leaves me very disappointed in the State of Friars basketball.
You can check Ryan out on Twitter at rjsuperfly66