There were a lot of questions raised for the game against Cincinnati. How would the Friars handle themselves after a solid road over Villanova? What would the team be like without Sidiki Johnson? Would this be another close game, or would we get blown out?
Fortunately, the Friars showed a lot of grit and tenacity, especially on defense, and pulled away against a top 20 team. What was most impressive about this win was the defense. And we’re going to dissect that bad Larry after the jump!
Defensive State of Mind: I already went pretty in depth on this in my game recap on Scout Friars (which is free to read, so click here to read that). I’m not going to repeat myself verbatim here (we got a lot to talk about) so here’s the Sparknotes:
- Our defense has improved (obviously)
- Teams have become more limited in getting shots off, but are still converted on a pretty even rate
- Right now, our rebounding is our strongest area defensively
- We outrebound opponents at an average of about 3 rebounds per game
- We are GOD awful at protecting the ball, especially in losses
We’ll get to that last point in a second. For now, I do want to highlight the fact that Providence played possibly it’s best defense all season against Cincinnati. They were aggressive, they pressed, and they didn’t have to rely solely (or even heavily) on just the 2-3 Zone.
Providence limited Cincinnati to just 37.5% shooting. And they did this by limiting the Bearcats to just 48 attempts, which Cincy only converted on 18 of. Turnovers were also a problem for Cincy – they had 15, and those 15 resulted in 17 points for the Friars. This is pretty standard in all Friar Big East wins this year, but the fact that it’s coming together to feel more natural is relieving. Which means PC is on it’s way to…
Come Together: Let’s just get this picture out of the way now.
The Friars have come together in team chemistry and defense. In a way it’s a good thing this article ended up being a few days late because I got to hear Coach Cooley’s interview on Sirius radio today and he talked about how the team chemistry got real screwed up when Council, Dunn, and Johnson were all thrown into the lineup towards the end of the OOC. Not that it wasn’t obvious at the time – we went from a 7 man lineup to a 10 man, and somehow everyone looked lost on the court.
Thankfully that problem seems to have dissipated. The team knows it’s role. I mentioned in a previous discussion about the team that Cooley is brilliant at understanding how to leverage each of his players like a chess piece to pull off wins. Sure, we had some horrible losses as collateral to this, but then again, consider the win against CIncinnati. The team played aggressively, but the fact is that the team did that. Not a few players, the whole team knew it’s role. Cincinnati was limited to 50 points. For the game. Remember when Scores used to be in the 90s and even the 100s before? Remember when Marshon Brooks scored more than 50 on his own two years ago? There’s no stat line, no one percentage that truly proves how this team has evolved defensively, but they have and their style of play looks much more natural because of it. The wins feel deserved, not lucky. And who else better at this than…
LEE-LEE-WOK: I was asked what the fascination with Lee Goldsbrough was in the comment section of the Villanova recap (I also incorrectly gave Lee Goldsbrough credit for making a tip out that apparently Dunn made. My bad.) and maybe there is some fascination on Friarblog with him, but I think at this point it’s less about him as a player and more about him as a person filling a role.
Let’s face it – Lee is never going to see his name on the First Team All Big East list. Not gonna happen. I’m sorry if this is news to you or if this feels negative but this conference is stacked to the brim with talent and There’s just too much to outshine Lee. But, at the same time, Lee will help Providence have a huge amount of success if he can continue to play the role he was assigned. Look at Cincinnati – Goldsbrough played 26 minutes off the bench. He was 3-3 on shooting, and he had four rebounds. That’s not a huge night, but man – he played aggressive on defense, forced turnovers, and was really a presence against Cincinnati players. Lee was just as much a reason we won as anyone else who played. His turnaround put back under the hoop too? Golden.
The point isn’t that Goldsbrough is some astounding, team changing player. It’s that he’s helping change the team by integrating what he has to offer into the chemistry. That’s, in my opinion, just as important as anything else you can do on the court.
Let’s Get Better!: There is always room for improvement after all. If you still didn’t read my article on Scout (linked above) and you wondering what that last point I made about turnovers was, prepare to get schooled.
Providence has lost seven league games. Now, arguably each one has it’s own flaws, and up until recently (maybe even the UConn game) the Friars were still discovering who they were as a team with the added players. However, with each loss there was one concerning trend. Turnovers.
Simply put, the Friars turned the ball over a lot. Isolating the losses, Providence averaged about 15 turnovers in each one. Bad right? It gets worse. Those 15 turnovers per game resulted in an average of 20 points off turnovers for the opposing team. That’s a high number. A really high number. Hell, that number sucks! Want to know what sucks even more though? The average margin of points Providence lost those games by. Was it 20? 50? 100?
Eight. The average amount of points the Friars have lost each league game by has been eight. Well, technically 8.5 but I’m not about to go halfsies on the scoreboard, are you?
Do…do I even need to say it? The Friars could have won some of those games if they took better care of the ball. They need to lock it up like a ball on a chain.
This came with part of the chemistry adjustments mind you (getting used to passes, communicating on the court, you know the deal) but if the Friars learn to hang onto the ball – well, suddenly some of those losses turn into wins, and some of those close wins turn into “no need to worry we got this” wins.
Player of the Game: It’s Lee. Move on.
The Dumbass(es) of the Game: Students, you guys were phenomenal. The cotton ball thing was top notch, you were unified in your chants, you stood up, you cheered. You did it all. You guys were great.
Then, the Cox Ball Blaster came and, like a wily temptress, lured you into the evil of sin.
DAMN YOU COX BALL BLASTER! DAMN YOU TO HELL!
At least, that’s what I would say if it were toddlers throwing learning how things work by throwing them. But it’s (a select few) students, not the Cox Ball Blaster, who have earned their way to Providence College. When we’re up 2 with seconds left and you start throwing balls onto the court, you know what that is? A technical. You know what that means? The other team gets to shoot two times and they get the ball. Not the cheap, silver plastic ball you threw. The game ball. The one that, if they put in the hoop, they could win the game with.
I get it, it’s exciting because we’re about to beat a top 20 team at home. Just please, smarten up a little about it. Have your fun, do literally everything you did last time and more. And I realize that 95% weren’t throwing them, and to you I say great job. To the 5%, I say the following:
Don’t be an idiot. Seriously, you’re better than that. You should be able to handle getting a game promotion without doing something dumb.
Other than that great job.