Well that was emotional.
There’s no gameflow up yet (I’m writing this a mere two hours after the victory in a Starbucks in Cambridge, MA) but if there was it would be a perfect example of a teenage emotional roller coaster. The Friars would fire on all cylinders will a well oiled killing machine and then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the entire flow would collapse like a house of cards and Fairfield would close the gap, tie it, or take the lead. I found myself alternating between celebratory fist pumps and cuss words throughout the game. It was a great game, played hard for all 40 minutes, and the win further solidifies the early impact Ed Cooley has.
Hit up the rest after The Jump
What Happened? The Friars broke out of the gate hot as hell, hitting 7 of their first 9. They took off on a double-digit run that ran circles around Fairfield and for a moment it looked like the Stags were in far over their head. Like a house of cards the collapse came and Fairfield caught back up from behind, taking a one point lead at the half that would’ve been 3 had it not been for an excellent last second feed to Giplaye in the post followed by a hard dunk. After the half the Friars fought back and forth with the Stags like two boxers throwing jabs and haymakers but saving their energy for the final punch. It came with a 12-0 run that put the Friars up ten, followed by a 10-0 run from the Stags to tie it at 47. The Friars took off after that on an 11-0 run that put them out of sight for the Stags as they did not trail for the rest of the game. They closed out with a win over Cooley’s old team, 80-72.
What was the Hype? Cooley’s old team rose from the ashes of the MAAC to become a competitive force in the conference, and Cooley one of the most respected coaches. When Cooley came home to Providence he agreed to play his former team, now coached by Princeton’s Sidney Johnson, and thus created a target on both team’s early seasons. Fairfield came in against their former coach and picked to finish second in conference, and Cooley came in with a squad that was picked to finish 15th in the Big East. If it were any other coach this game might have been perceived differently, but given how close the two schools were bound together because of one man the excitement and anticipation for this game had been felt early in the summer.
Suprising Stat of the Night 17-20 on free throw shooting, good for 85% from the line for the Friars. I know, I thought I read the box score wrong too, but the Friars have really stepped up from the charity stripe, and it is a large reason why they won the game, not only because of points from the line but also because of the momentum and sparks it provided into runs that helped put a gap between the Friars and Stags that became too much for them. Lots of converted and-ones, which is why we’re trying to draw those fouls in the first place, and a lot of great opportunities including a 4-point play opportunity for Cotton. Council shot 8-10 and Cotton 6-7, and both Coleman and Henton were perfect from the line.
Frustrating Stat of the Night Fairfield shooting almost an even 50% from field goal range for the game, including 53% in the second half. Not a good sign for a defense oriented team and a number that could rattle the bones if Cooley wasn’t coach. You know there will be adjustments made. Still, the beast called the Big East will not be forgiving on a number like that. Let us not forget that this team was not used to winning correctly before Cooley however, so I’m willing to chalk this stat up to growing pains.
Interesting Fact This was our first win on the road since we beat DePaul two seasons ago. We’re a terrible road team apparently, but thankfully that number could change.
Here’s how Chowdah works – rather than dish out pasta I award four categories of Chowdah based on how well an individual played, starting with a solid performance that helped win and ending with an overall example of what should be expected every night from the said player. I’ll award honorable mentions when necessary, and I’ll normally only dish out chowdah to the Friars. Ready? Let’s go!
Why Lee Goldsbrough? Yes his statline looked like a flatline, especially given 22 minutes of play, but if he’s playing that much and his statline is reading that little he should be doing something right, right? He is – whether it’s drawing fouls, being a defensive threat, or helping facilitate the offense, Lee is playing the role Cooley wants him to play. Who knows if this will continue when Batts is back in the lineup, but for now he helped us get a win tonight, even if his statline looks like it should have a tumbleweed blow by it.
Why Vincent Council? He had a great game where he played 39 minutes (would’ve been 40 if he didn’t hurt his ankle in the first before returning to action to finish out the game, channelling the spirit of Paul Pierce) and lead the team in scoring with 26 points, add 7 assists. He’s coming into his own as a general and is an exciting player to watch, and hopefully his game will only improve come Big East play. He was responsible for sparking several runs that pushed a Friars victory.
Why Bryce Cotton? We got Cotton when nobody else was recruiting him for some high school stuff and because we lost Joe Young, and thank god we got him. Cotton is a complete player that is flourishing under Cooley, drawing 4 point plays and creating opportunities for himself and others on offense. He’s a good defender and has a quick cut, and has a bright future ahead of him as a Friar. He played the full 40 minutes tonight and didn’t disappoint the team or play selfish basketball. He broke his career high too with 24 points tonight (his high before was 19).
Honorable Mention: LaDontae Henton
Why Gerard Coleman? After the FDU game Cooley explained that Gerard would be a sixth man off the bench to provide firepower for the Friars and put a spark in when it looked like they were going flat. Gerard looked upset about this, but Cooley got him refocused and when asked how he felt about it, Gerard said he was okay with his role because it would help the team win and that’s what he’s about. Tonight Gerard played his role to perfection, but more importantly he demonstrates a selfless personality on and off the court, putting the benefit of the team before himself. He was a confusing one to watch last year, but he might be on course to have a phenomenal sophomore year, largely due to the fact that everyone is playing into their roles, and Gerard is fully accepting of his. He’s on the court when the game ends so you know Coach trusts him, and Gerard is proud to wear the black and white, as evident by his “team first” mentality that I think everyone is developing.
This keeps freezing up on me so I’m going to bed, I’ll update tomorrow with the statsheet stuff so we can talk about that. For now I’m signing off. Goodnight and good luck Friar fans!