Good Morning Friartown,
Let us all do this collectively. BREATHE! DEEP BREATHS! It will be okay, I promise you.
Tonight is a perfect illustration of the harsh realities of having a roster without a lot of depth. While I’m sure Cotton would have played if this game meant something, this is typical of a team in complete rebuilding mode. While we wait on the approval or denial of Sidiki Johnson’s wavier request, the health of Kris Dunn, and the possible approval of Ricardo Ledo to play second semester, there will be growing pains.
Now, that does not mean I’m going to sit here and tell you to be optimistic and happy about what happened at the Dunkin Donuts Center last night. Last night, despite a 76-52 over the Rhode Island College Anchorman, was very disappointing in many aspects.
For the good and bad in statistics of last nights game, let us hit the CRUNCH!
2003 – The Last Time PC Lost an Exhibition Game at Home
This is actually amazing to think about, but the last time PC lost an exhibition game at home was coincidentally the same year they last made the NCAA Tournament. On November 15, 2003, the USDBL 320 All-Stars came to the Providence Civic Center and defeated the Friars, 112-109.
These games were also fun, when former collegiate stars would join together and challenge collegiate teams. John Morton (Seton Hall), Trevor Ruffin (Hawaii), and Devonaire Deas (Florida St.) all had big games for 320, while Friar legend Ryan Gomes scored 29 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
This game was back and forth down the stretch of regulation, and Gomes banked in a 3 pointer with one second left to send the game to OT. Back and forth it continued to go, but trailing by 3, Abdul Mills missed a 3 with two seconds left to tie the game.
This was one of the more exciting games no one ever remembers.
76.2% – Free Throw Percentage for PC vs. RIC
Last week I made sure to point out how disappointed I was with the Friar foul shooting against Assumption and how I wished it was just an outlier. Against RIC, Providence College returned close to the norm, shooting 16-21 from the line, even more impressive when considering that Bryce Cotton did not play, who is really their only free throw shooter you would say is close to automatic.
Most reassuring was the fact that Vincent Council went 8-9 from the line. As a 70.4% free throw shooter as a freshman and a 72.1% free throw shooter as a sophomore, last year Council regressed to 67.4%, struggling mightily at times throughout the season, so it was nice to see Council seem as solid as he did a few years ago.
72% – Shooting Percentage in the Second Half for PC against the Anchormen
PC shot 30% in the first half and really struggled to hit their open shots. To be honest, it looked a lot like a combination of nerves and playing their first game of the year at the big, open arena like the Dunk. Josh Fortune was the most affected early on, as his shots were all over the place, missing bad in some cases, and LaDontae Henton threw some missiles off the backboard as well I thought were about to send glass right at the Pep Band.
However, once Council started to effectively push the ball and create some turnovers early in the second half, you could almost sense that RIC was running out of gas. His dunk on the fast break sent some energy to the bench and also the arena, which was quiet for most of the game outside of the RIC fans sensing the upset late in the first half.
Once he composed his troops, they did the rest. Josh Fortune did his best “Ice” Bryce Cotton impersonation, with a performance similar to Cotton’s second half run against UCONN in PC’s last game at the Dunk. His six straight jumpers late in the second half were a thing of beauty, and if Cotton and Fortune are ever on at the same time, opponents will have no chance against the Friars.
50% – The chance I hear Ricardo Ledo suits up for the Friars this season as long as he continues to work hard at his grades.
Rumor has it that there is a very good chance at this point that Ledo could be declared eligible for the second semester. However, there is a catch. If for some reason Ricky is not allowed to play this season, the odds of him ever suiting up for the Friars seems slim to none. How can you blame the kid for chasing money with several European offers? I hold on to the belief that if he really just wanted the money, he would have left here in September. Maybe he thought the platform at PC would help his draft stock and knew the money would still be there if he waited until second semester, but I like to think what Cooley and Ledo have is stronger than those who may not have his best interests at heart.
23.1% – RIC 3 Point Percentage vs. the Friars
When identifying the recipe for a major upset in college basketball, the three point line is the major neutralizer. Providence knew going into the game that RIC was not going to have the height or athleticism to match up and force the action, but what changes everything is ball movement and shooting.
RIC finished the game 6-26 from the three point line. Now imagine if they shoot slightly better, say 10-26. That is only 38.4%, but that is 12 more points they put up, and the game changes tremendously, momentum and ability for PC to run on long rebounds being a big part of that.
So the fact that PC could force RIC to shoot so bad from 3 is tremendous. People might say “Well it is a D-3 team, couldn’t have been that hard,” but you have to remember what D3 players are. They are still good basketball players, just without the height or athleticism to make it at higher levels. But when all is said and done, they are all competent basketball players, mostly capable of hitting good looks. So credit PC for making sure most of the shot attempts were well contested.
18 – Minutes Played by Walkon Ted Bancroft against the Anchormen
In what could be one of the real great feel good stories of the season for the Friars, Bancroft continued his steady play with good decision making and solid effort for a Friars team desperate for depth off the bench.
Bancroft was 1-1 from the field (1-2 from the FT line) for 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 3 points.
The normal person would see this box score and likely say, “What the hell, that is a joke right? This guy stinks!” How quickly we forget this kid is a walkon who is only supposed to be playing when the team is winning by 45 points and the students scream for him to jack up shots.
This is a dream come true for Ted, who has worked hard and earned the respect of his coach and teammate. The fact that he is entrusted to help be a part of the offense and defense is a bonus. He isn’t just a decoy, he is definitely a part of this team.
17 – The Amount of Turnovers by the Friars Against RIC
To say the Friars were sloppy would possibly be an understatement. There are games where PC turns the ball over and you say to yourself “Wow, that team just brings so much intensity to the defensive side of the ball and they make big plays,” but to me, that did not define last night.
Josh Fortune had 6 turnovers. Some of those were bad passes he could not handle that brought him towards the sideline, but if you don’t blame that on Fortune, you blame it on whoever passed it to him. Fortune, Council, and Henton combined for 11 turnovers, far too high. You can get away with silly turnovers against RIC, but if you are playing Syracuse, the ball is going the other way in the blink of an eye, and highlight reel alley oops will be the result.
RIC only scored 14 points off 17 PC turnovers. While PC appreciates the break, good teams won’t give that to them.
15 - Offensive Rebounds for RIC vs the Friars
This is probably the one stat that honestly is the most frustrating theme of the game against the Anchorman. Even though Kadeem Batts was injured and played sparingly through the game, PC should dominate and own the post against the D-3 RIC Anchormen. RIC has two players who are 6’6, and one didn’t play and the other played only 16 minutes. Sure, PC won the rebounding battle 40-29, but they should have probably owned it a little stronger. It’s not just that our big man core may be weak, but on good teams, every player can be tough and grab rebounds. Heck, PC only scored 28 points in the paint, in comparison to 20 for RIC. 28! This isn’t just a Sidiki Johnson thing or even Kadeem Batts, but a team philosophy. Against bad teams, especially teams with zero height, you need to be able to have a threat in the paint. Henton, Council, Fortune, they all need to learn to create more in the paint.
If you live and die by the jump shot, a team lacking depth will lose more often than not against equal or better teams. If Fortune and/or Cotton are cold, winning the game becomes a lot more challenging.
12 – Rebounds Grabbed by Lee Goldsbrough Against RIC
With Kadeem Batts limited due to his shoulder bursitis and still no news on Sidiki Johnson’s waiver request, it was interesting to see whether Goldsbrough, Brice Kofane, or nobody would take hold of the minutes that could potentially be available. Tonight, Goldsbrough was a man on a mission, while Kofane folded under fire. His 8 points and 12 rebounds were much needed to show maybe this guy does have some value on the bench for the Friars, as Lee has long been seen as basically a mascot as opposed to an actual player.
Granted, this “big” game was against the RIC Anchorman, but you can never estimate what confidence could do to someone. It was nice seeing Lee smiling on the bench as his teammates Sidiki Johnson and Ricardo Ledo made sure to let him know how well he was playing. Goldsbrough was one of the rare examples of exceeding expectations against RIC.
10.5 – Assists Averaged by Vincent Council vs. Assumption and RIC
The sign of an elite point guard is making players around him better, and Vincent Council has done that very well in these two games. I think Council is much more comfortable playing with Josh Fortune has I detailed some last week, as a great jump shooter can be a point guards best friend. The team around Council wants him to be in charge and to get them in the right position, which gives Council room to operate.
With guys like Duke Mondy and Gerard Coleman in the past, they wanted the ball in their hands and they wanted to be the ones making the plays. Unfortunately, neither guy had half the decision making or vision that Vincent Council has and they forced way to many plays.
Not only has Council had 21 assists in two games, but he has only had 6 turnovers, good for a 3.5 A/T ratio. 3 turnovers per game may seem high, but compare that ratio to the NCAA leaders from last year. Kyle Cassity led D-1 with a 3.6 A/T ratio (played for St. Louis), and number two was Kendall Marshall (3.5, UNC, drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 1st round). In fact, only 8 players who qualified for this stat had ratios over 3, so what Council has done so far has been terrific.
Granted, these games do not count, and the competition is less, but we have seen what Vincent Council could be capable of in the past. In the past, we have complained about players finishing and ruining assists attempts. Maybe this year is when the players finally step up and help Vincent out.
8 – The Amount of 2nd Chance Points Scored by the Friars Against the Anchormen
This is a very disappointing stat to me on many different levels. Providence had 12 offensive rebounds against the Anchorman, which I actually find disappointing given the size differential between the two teams. Regardless, this would indicate PC scored on 33% of their offensive rebounds, far below the 50% most teams like to see and the 65%+ you would like to see against a team PC should dominate in the post.
The major problem would seem to be the lack of a true “post” presence on this team. While Kadeem Batts and Lee Goldsbrough seem to be improved, they are still wing players in the sense they would rather play with their face to the basket on the wing and make decisions from there. When they get the ball underneath the basket, that is not something they are comfortable with.
I thought Coach Cooley was going to send Goldsbrough through the announcers table WWF style when in the first half, he went up and grabbed a strong rebound, comes down, dribbles away from the basket, and kicked out to Council to reset. Some of those offensive rebounds should have been easy putbacks and layups to competent post players.
While I certainly am not going to complain about Lee Goldsbrough’s performance against RIC, those are things that you need to be able to do to succeed come Big East play, to take advantage of easy shot opportunities.
6 – The Amount of Three Point Field Goals Made by Josh Fortune vs. RIC
This kid is a polar opposite of Gerard Coleman, WHICH I LOVE. I think when push comes to shove, in the Big East to execute when the game matters, you need to be able to open up and hit tough shots. Last season, the strategy was simple. Basically double-team Vincent Council, over pursue on Cotton, have the PF stay near Henton, and have the C roam the paint. Coleman became useless because teams would leave him open to shoot, and his struggles in decision making would lead to mistakes.
Now, Josh Fortune makes the Friars half-court offense more dynamic. Both Cotton and Fortune has the ability to hit the contested three point shot. If you double-team Council, one of those guys will be open and will make you pay. They are both very streaky shooters, but will open each other up for better looks. The defense won’t be able to collapse like they could with Coleman, giving Council and the bigs more room to operate.
Fortune may not be Gerard Coleman in the transition game, but is that a huge deal when you have Vincent Council, one of the best point guard when it comes to pushing the ball and getting players in position to succeed?
0 – The Amount of Made 3 Point Attempts by LaDontae Henton in 3 Exhibitions (Mal-Brown Included)
With the emergence of Josh Fortune to do exactly what we thought he would do, I actually don’t think this stat is a huge deal, except for the fact it is another weapon you would like to see click. LaDontae Henton is 0-5 in the three exhibitions, which obviously does not compare well to the 39.3% Henton shot from 3 last season.
There is also the bright side for the Friars, in that Henton was not a terrific three point shooter to start last year before he became almost automatic for most of Big East play. He was 6-19 (31.5%) last November, and steadily improved as the year went on.
And that concludes your weekly crunch. Next Saturday, Providence opens up the season against the New Jersey Institute of Technology. It is now time for your first bonus crunch:
51 - The amount of consecutive games lost by NJIT from 2007-2009.
This is not technically seen as a record because they were in the process of moving from a Division 2 to a Division 1 program, and because of that provisional status, that does not get recorded as an official stat. The record actually is owned by former Providence assistant Pat Skerry and his Towson program, who although he inherited quite a few of those loses, went 41 straight games without a win.
319 – Ken Pomeroy’s NCAA Projection of NJIT
Basically, he says they are not very good. Too many stats to back that up.
Until next Sunday, hope you all have a great week! Have a special Big East Crunch coming out this week, must read projections about how I think the Big East will play out this season.
Remember to keep reading Friarblog for all of the best of Friar news, and to follow on the twitter machine, @rjsuperfly.