Happy Sunday Morning Friartown,
On Friday night, I unfortunately subjected myself to watching UCONN pull the upset win over Michigan St. in the Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Now, I hate Jay Bilas. I think he is a super-Duke homer who while insightful at times is blinded by the greed and desires of the multi-billion dollar corporation he commentates for.
That said, there was one thing he kept saying on repeat, and I paraphrase: “I think depth is overrated. You can win with a rotation of six or seven guys. The only problem with that is injuries become more severe.” Anyone who watched the game at all probably remembers him saying that, basically because he said it 1,500 times.
Unfortunately for Friar fans, that nightmare became a reality when Vincent Council fell and clutched his hamstring on Saturday afternoon (which I will discuss a little more later). Personally, I think Vincent Council will be out for at least two weeks, and probably closer towards the URI game on 12/4. Anyone who has ever suffered a hamstring pull, especially of the caliber of the strain Council suffered, knows how challenging it is to recover. You constantly think it is improving, only to feel the reminder of its pain after running for a few minutes, or even just strides. Now, I am no doctor, but I’ve dealt with these a few times in the past with myself or teammates, and any moderate to severe pull seems to take some time to recover from as it is really hard to play on a hamstring at less than 100%. It really comes down to the player and his ability to heal though, but these definitely take some time.
All things considered though, PC was still able to fight on while fighting through different sets and rotations they were not prepared to use, and sneak away with a one point victory at the Dunk on Saturday afternoon. For more on the stats, let’s hit the crunch.
691,004,186 – Views of the Gangnum Style Music Video (as I type this)
In what has become a cult phenomenon, Gangnum Style by Psy has become a popular stadium song throughout the United States over the past three months. Here it is in case you haven’t seen it.
The reason I include this in the Crunch is because I would honestly state that once this song was blasted throughout the Dunk with around seven minutes left in the game on Saturday, the Dunk because significantly louder for the rest of the game.
Here is Friar Dom doing it
Something about dancing and swinging hands over one’s head took over the students and young kids alike, and this seems to be the next stadium anthem that will make the Dunk a passionate place, but more on this below.
5,739 – Official Attendance for the NJIT Game
To say this crowd was underwhelming would be an understatement. The crowd was quiet from the start, and whatever buzz was in the building came to a screeching halt when Vincent Council collapsed to the ground in pain. As his screams pierced through the Dunkin Donuts Center, a collective silence overtook the Dunkin Donuts Center. To some, it was a natural reaction to injury. For most Friar fans, it was pure panic that the star of the team was seriously injured. However, even after he was helped to the locker room by Tyler Harris and a team assistant, the silence remained, almost well into the second half when Friar fans realized that NJIT was not going to go way. Insert Gangnum Style, and the Dunk began to get a little louder, and then from about the three minute mark on when the game was neck and neck, the student section and collective crowd finally began to show life reminiscent of key ranked victories at home in the past, and NJIT was crushed under the pressure, forcing several bad shots and making some terrible decisions.
77.8% – PC’s Foul Shooting Percentage against NJIT
Foul shooting is a percentage that I believe is a big deal, which is why I have crunched it since the season began two weeks ago. Against NJIT, Providence shot 21-27 from the foul line, a terrific percentage, and not just was the percentage great, but 27 free throws tends to indicate aggression in driving to the basket and creating contact. The only downside (and you wouldn’t think there would be one when you miss only six free throws) was that Bryce Cotton finished the game only 7-10 for the line, and only 2-4 down the stretch. Cotton was definitely out of gas from being forced to carry the ballhandling burden today, but 70% for a 90% foul shooter is slightly discouraging. It is a small sample so not a big deal, we just hope that “Ice” can return to his nickname from the free throw line soon.
And speaking of foul shooting, believe it or not, NJIT was 12-14 (85.7%) for the game. When you look at how inferior teams can stick in tight contests (especially on the road), making your free throws and not committing careless turnovers (NJIT committed only 13 and only four of those in the second half) are big reasons why.
43 – The Amount of Points Bryant Lost to #1 Indiana By
To anyone who could watch this game in it’s entirety, I respect you. Indiana is an extraordinarily talented team, but I guess that could easily be summarized by the fact they are the best team in the country according to the rankings, and did put a good beatdown on Bryant, 97-54. While Providence might have ended last season with the #6 recruiting class in the country, Indiana was #11, adding to a roster that was strong enough to make a run to the Sweet 16 led behind Cody Zeller and Christian Watford. So when Bryant enters the Dunk on Monday night, don’t expect them to be intimidated. After all, they ventured over last year on a Saturday afternoon for a noontime start, and if it weren’t for “Ice” Cotton going Kobe on everyone, PC probably loses that game (instead win by 11). So now take a PC team without its best player, and bring in a hungry Bulldogs team ready to avenge last years loss, and this could actually be a really exciting, competitive game at the Dunk on Monday night.
And for anyone interested, PC’s opponent after Bryant, UMASS, has only played one game this season, an exhibition win over D2 American by 5 points. The score was 39-37 UMASS at halftime and played nip and tuck all second half until the Minutemen squeaked out a 87-82 win. UMASS did face Drexel in a closed scrimmage as well, but no details released to the public. For those interested in doing some advanced scouting, UMASS will be facing Harvard on Tuesday as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. The game will be played at 10 AM on ESPN. They will be leaving after that game to head to Puerto Rico for their matchup with the Friars.
40 – The Amount of Minutes Play By Both LaDontae Henton and Bryce Cotton against NJIT
This is not really that much of a surprise, but the fact that Providence struggled to build a lead and get these guys at least a few minutes on the bench is unfortunate. Both of these guys will be expected to carry a huge portion of the scoring load for PC, and with 4 games in 7 days coming up, it is imperative to try to make sure everyone is rested as possible. I know we want to think of these guys as iron men, but it is early in the season, and they both looked worn down in the last few minutes of the game against NJIT. One of our most important goals heading into Puerto Rico was to finish at least 1-2, so hopefully the team plays better so those guys can get some rest and stay healthy heading into those games.
35 – The Amount of Minutes Bryce Cotton Played Point Guard
A few weeks ago, I discussed the severe limitations of Bryce Cotton as a point guard and why I was scared if he ever had to play point for significant minutes for the Friars this season, so you can only imagine how I felt when I watched Vincent Council slip trying to turn to catch a Cotton pass running up the court, only to collapse in a heap on the court, screaming in agony with a few curse words thrown in.
All things considered, you would have to consider Bryce Cotton’s play with mixed reviews. For the most part, he struggled in the halfcourt running the offense (although he did a much better job creating for himself than he did last year), but when it came to getting the team out running, I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to create for his teammates. But when the game got close towards the end, several Cotton bad decisions began to hurt his team, including a layup he threw into the bottom of the rim with roughly 55 seconds left when forcing a fast break.
I was very surprised that NJIT really made no effort to speed up the inexperienced PG, much like the Assumption game last week. For the most part, they sat back inside the three point line, waiting for Cotton to bring the ball to them, which naturally is significantly less pressure on the player than if you were up in his face, pressuring him constantly. Better teams are going to work hard to speed Cotton up, but hopefully he can build on his performance and be better prepared for what Bryant might throw at him tomorrow night.
32.3% – The Shooting Percentage of the Friars vs. NJIT
To me, this is one of the biggest reasons why PC almost lost yesterday. As I always try to point out, when you live by the jump shot, you die by the jump shot, and for the most part, no one was hitting. Only 3-21 (14.3%) from three is terrible beyond comprehension, especially considering most of those looks were relatively open. Because PC is a perimeter-oriented team and has no threat from the post, they cannot shoot this poorly and expect to win many games against good teams. Now, there are questions that go with this … How much was this on Cotton for not getting the balls to players in the right places? How much of this was poor shot selection? Many variables that go into this, some because Council was injured, but PC will have to play better on Monday.
29 – Minutes Played by Bilal Dixon For Towson in a Loss Friday Night
I know there are a lot of people out there who did not like Dixon for his attitude on and off the court the past few years, but I do like to keep track of our “former” players as they move on just to think about what it could have been if these guys bought in and were still on the squad. Even though Towson lost 75-58 at the College of Charleston, it seems to be that Dixon has stepped up to the challenge.
7/12 shooting, 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 turnover
While things could not work out here for obvious reasons, hard to deny that a 15 point, 10 rebound performance for the Friars would be much appreciated heading into Puerto Rico.
28 – Points Scored by NJIT Senior Chris Flores against the Friars
In what to me was a a very quiet statline, Chris Flores tied his career-high of 28 points on 10-19 shooting to keep NJIT very much in Saturday’s game at the Dunk. A preseason 1st-team all Great West selection (an award that doesn’t mean much since the Great West is the only conference in the NCAA to not get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and has only 6 teams, all of which are jokes), Flores was a floor general. His teammate, Ryan Woods (he who is whiter than I) also tied a career-high with 19 points on the day. If NJIT could have had any third player make an impact, they probably win this one easily, but they were the only two threats on the roster.
22 – PC Points in the Paint Against NJIT
In another disappointing stat, it is always a telling sign as to why PC struggled against another “inferior” opponent. I know PC might not have the most gifted big men in the country, when you have Henton and Batts to go along with some talented guards and a leaper in Kofane, you would hope that you could dominate the paint against a bunch of fringe D-1 athletes. PC only won the rebounding battle 43-41, and although they did have 20 second chance points on 17 offensive rebounds, you would still hope they could assert themselves more. It reverts directly back to jump shooting. It’s a natural scientific fact — The closer you are to the basket, the easier it should be to put the ball in the basket. The further away, the harder. So when you stand on the perimeter jacking up 15′-18′ shots, you are missing opportunities from 3′ or 5′. That said, it comes down on the big men to work harder on their skills and to be able to dominate when on the block against inferior competition.
20 – Shots Attempted by LaDontae Henton Against the Friars
While LaDontae Henton did have a very solid afternoon from a scoring perspective (24 points), I would not say he was terrible efficient on the afternoon. Outside of the last 10 minutes of the first half where he really got them in the game and than the lead, Henton really made some very poor shot decisions. He made only 8 shots on the day with those 20 attempts, and was ineffective in the second half, shooting only 1/5. Fortunately for him, he did make all 7 of his free throw attempts, so he was trying to assert himself, but 40% from the field on 20 attempts, while better than the team average, is much different than the LaDontae we learned to love last year for high Basketball IQ.
9 – Misses by Josh Fortune Against NJIT
In what was one of the more bigger surprises for me against today, Josh Fortune shot only 1-10 from the floor for 2 points, and was 0-5 from three. Granted, we all knew that “Fire” Fortune was a streak shooter, but he forced way to many shots and just seemed to not be in rhythm by releasing the ball too quick. Perhaps it was first game jitters, but when you have only six scholarship players at this point in time, you cannot afford to have Fortune unable to throw a beach ball into the ocean.
7:07 – PC’s Last Field Goal of the 2nd Half Against NJIT
When Bryce Cotton scored on a layup with 7:07 left, it put PC back up by 8 points, a mark where they had floated around for most of the second half. But never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this to occur over those last 7 minutes:
0/10 from the field, 0/3 from 3, 4/6 from the line, 1 turnover (outscored 11-4)
It will always come back to this principle, you cannot do that against good teams. Luckily NJIT is a bottom 30 team in the country and they made just enough mistakes down the stretch to allow you to stay in the game, but if that is even a DePaul or decent mid-major team, they would have won easily, sending PC home with a bitter taste in their mouth. Think about it, for as bad as PC played, NJIT did not score themselves in the final 4:17 after hitting a three to take a 63-62 lead.
That concludes the Crunch for this week. I look forward to giving you guys a full-buffet next week after three games!
And remember to follow on twitter, @rjsuperfly.