Sometimes things are just easier said than done. This was not one of those times.
To say the Friars manhandled the Florida A&M Raddlesnakes in the first round of the South Padre Invitational would be like saying the sky is blue – unless you’re an idiot it’s an indisputable fact. There was no turning point in the game, and it’s almost unfair to compare the two teams becuase, honestly, I thought teams like Bentley University (DII exhibition last year) and UMASS Lowell were better put together and performed better than the Raddlesnakes. They couldn’t buy a bucket. They didn’t know how to hold onto the ball. They couldn’t defend. At what point does someone, hopefully a ref or a caring patron, call an unofficial timeout, pull the A&M coach aside, and very humbly and delicately ask, “coach, you know this is a basketball game right?”
Yes, it was that awful. Hit up the jump and see what I’m talking about.
What Happened?: The Friars won. How else can you put it? Their opponent faced the wrath of the triple C’s but the walkons got serious minutes. Chris Carter, the double C, hit a three pointer for God’s sake. There was nothing that the Raddlesnakes did that, at any point, would constitute competitive basketball. They waited until they were down 40 to get their head in the game. Just writing this I feel bad because it feels like kicking a child when they’re down with two broken legs, but oh well I hate kids anyway (no I do not actually hate kids, nor do I break their legs and kick them on the ground, sheesh…). It was sad really, because Florida A&M showed heart and really did care, but they missed an open layup on a fast break, got an uncontested rebound, and then missed again 2 inches away from the rim. And then they turned the ball over. But hey, it’s not all throwing stones at the opposing team – LaDontae got a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
What was the Hype?: If this wasn’t part of the South Padre Invitational, Providence would have no business playing a team this bad. Since it was part of an in season tournament I guess the win counts for something, but they have 3 more games left in the tournament – one on Tuesday against Southern, and then they head to South Padre where they play Iowa State Friday night and then Northern Iowa the following. Out of all those teams only Iowa State is the biggest threat, but they shouldn’t sleep on any team ever. Thankfully, Cooley demonstrated that even facing this minuet of an opponent won’t cause him to ease off the gas competitively. Based on how the game was played it was less “let’s phone this one in and see where it goes” and more “they came into our house to play us? They’re going to get bitchslapped into last week!” And I like that – our jerseys, our banners, our court – everything about us represents the best conference in the country and we need to play like we’re a part of that conference night in and night out, no matter who the opponent.
Surprising stat of the Night: Twenty turnovers for both teams. Not a good thing for us in terms of holding onto the ball and protecting it, but good to see such a defensive hustle to force those turnovers!
Frustrating stat of the Night: I don’t know – probably the turnover thing.
Interesting Fact: Bilal Dixon was playing well tonight, and being one of the oldest members of the team he was asked in the press conference how he takes that leadership responsibility. He answered that he sees himself as a father figure to the younger guys, causing Cooley to draw a look of shock on his face before picking on him. “WOW!” Cooley exclaimed. ” ‘Father Figure Dixon’…you changin’ their diapers?” Causing laughs throughout the crowd and a shy smile from Bilal. Father Figure Dixon, can you say new nickname Friar fans?!
Other interesting notes from the press conference: Nothing too significant – Cooley was pleased with LaDontae’s first double-double. He was pleased with Bilal’s performance, and when asked if Cotton’s performance tonight was constituted as “breakout” for breaking his career high, Cooley smiled and said “that’s just Cotton being Cotton.” Seems like Coach really likes this guy and relies on him to be an all around player – if Council is the leader of this team, then Cotton is the one who’s first to carry out and facilitate the orders. Also, this might be news to some of you who’ve been living in Siberia but Cooley really loves Providence College and loves playing at home. He believes in us as fans for our support and love for this school – I don’t know, I can’t capture it through text the way he conveys it with such emotion and passion, but we are very lucky to have a coach like this who’s not only talented but cares so much about us as a subculture. It’s very special to have that connection and I think it’s evident in how he carries himself, but doing so in front of the press just makes it all that more special in my opinion.
And now, Chowdah!
Why Chris Carter? The guy is a walk on and doesn’t see much playing time, but I love that he has a true passion for the team and really plays with heart out there. When he’s not playing he’s trying to get people involved, for example he used to set up game events on Facebook and invite as many students as possible to help increase attendance. It was great not only seeing him with minutes but seeing him score some baskets. Obviously his performance wasn’t a deciding factor in the win, but because he brings it all from the bench and doesn’t see a ton of time he’s getting some chowdah to go.
Why Lee Goldsbrough? Like Chris Carter he plays with heart. He gets significantly more minutes as a starter but often has a deflated statline, yet he still contributes. He contributed more by logging in some points and helping to facilitate a lot of transitional points. Keep eating that chowdah and someday you’ll grow into a very significant piece Lee!
Why LaDontae Henton? While (as you’ll see below) Bryce got the honorable mention this time, LaDontae logged a double double and this could be deemed a breakout game for him. He was sold as a rebounder with a nose for the ball and that paid off with him sniffing out 11 boards as well as 13 points as a freshman. He’s playing exceptionally well and really living up to the player we need him to be, finding all ways to contribute. I like his style of play and I think tonight Henton deserves to fest on some chowdah.
Honorable Mention: Bryce Cotton for logging in a career high of 26 points.
Why Vincent Council? The dude was on f*cking crutches after the Fairfield fiasco and looked like an all star out there. He’s showing his colors on why Cooley loves him; he’ll do whatever it takes to win and won’t let anything short of death get in his way. Twisted ankle? That’s for pussies, there’s basketball to be played!