Good news: There were no blown leads this game. Bad news: The Cincinnati Bearcats took control of the game from the get go to end up with a fairly easy 81-66 victory over the Providence Friars. Despite falling in a hole early on, PC admirably fought back late in the 2nd, but once again couldn’t get over the hump in the last several minutes of the game.
The Bearcats stretched the lead to 54-30 in the second half before Providence started hitting 3s. Council made a pair of 3s, two free throws and a fast-break layup during a 15-2 run that cut the lead to 56-45 with 11:01 left, giving Providence a spark.
Henton had a 3-pointer and a driving layup during a seven-point spurt that got the lead down to 66-59 with 4:25 left. Wright hit a pair of free throws that ended the comeback.
The Bearcats killed Providence on the glass, Yancy Gates scored inside and had numerous posterizing dunks, and Sean Killpatrick shouldered the bulk of the scoring with 22 points. Cincinnati didn’t shoot particularly well in the 2nd, but they got numerous 2nd chances and got to the line often to withstand the late Vincent Council run.
Bryce Cotton went scoreless (ICE, come on bro!), shooting 0-5 from downtown and 0-6 overall. Henton and Council were only two who produced offensively, accounting for 53 of the 66 team’s points. At least Henton apparently had a good time feeling up Cashmere Wright. So wrong, but it feels so wright. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (H/T @PCDen).
Only one Friar scored in double digits as junior guard Vincent Council (Brooklyn, N.Y.) had 16 points in the game. The Bulls held Providence’s second leading scorer, sophomore Bryce Cotton (Tucson, Ariz.), to six points. Overall the Friars shot 30.8 percent from the field, 8.3 percent from behind the arc and 78.9 percent from the free throw line.
How much misfortune can a team be forced to endure, without having the basketball gods send at least one positive result their way?
Plenty – if you’re the 2012 Providence Friars. For the third straight game, PC found itself with a late second half lead…and for the third straight game, the opponent found a way to win. This time, the culprits came from South Florida, as the Bulls outscored the Friars 14-2 over the final 2:30 to win 55-48 at the Dunkin Donuts Center Saturday.
With Vincent Council checking him, Noriega swished home a trey from the corner opposite the Bulls bench, one that made it a one-point white-knuckle affair at 2:20. An offensive foul by Kadeem Batts took away a hoop by Council and gave the Bulls another crack at running something with the intent of freeing Noriega.
Running off of what the USF hero-of-the-game dubbed “a triple screen,” Noriega banged home a three with 1:40 remaining, putting the visitors up at 48-47. Two attempts, two makes in exactly 60 seconds of floor time. Certainly it’s not bad work if you can get it, but as Noriega noted afterwards, he knows why Heath deploys him in certain situations as opposed to others.
Providence struggled through their ugliest offensive night since a 40 point performance against Georgetown in early January, and the closing minutes were not much better. Their only field goal of the final four minutes came when LaDontae Henton squeezed home a shot at the rim with 1:19 left, but USF closed by doing what PC could not six days prior against West Virginia – hitting all eight of their free throw attempts in the game’s final minute as they ripped off a 14-2 run over the game’s final two and half minutes for the victory.
It was a sluggish effort from the start for Cooley’s group, a team that must be discouraged after conceding leads of 15 and 19 points in their two losses prior to this one.
The Bulls, who led 24-21 at halftime, also did a better job with their man-to-man defense against Providence than has been the case in the past. They held the Friars to 30 percent shooting and limited freshman forward Henton to seven points after he scored a career-high 33 on Jan. 29 in USF’s 81-78 win.
“We knew we had to take away their transition,” Heath said. “We did a much better job in the second half. I think it took some of their guys who can really score and didn’t allow them to get in a rhythm that they’ve gotten into before.
“I don’t know how those guys feel, but I’m exhausted,” he added, with a laugh. “The guys did a fantastic job, and there are a lot of heroes in that locker room.”
“I definitely knew my time was going to come,” Noriega said. “We needed some shots at the end, and my coaches and teammates have faith in me.”
Noriega hadn’t played in four of USF’s previous six games, and the 12 total minutes he earned on Jan. 24 against Marquette and Feb. 4 against Georgetown came in contests that the Bulls lost by a combined 50 points. The junior guard had gone from starter to afterthought before sealing a season sweep of the Friars, a stint that Heath had in mind when he addressed the team a day earlier.
“You never know when your turn is going to come,” Heath said. “He perked up and had a pretty good practice (Friday).”
On Thursday, I made my way to Rhode Island College to see Mr. Hometown Hero himself in Ricardo Ledo and South Kent take on La Jolla Prep (CA). I was fortunate to catch the end of Notre Dame Prep’s and have a few words with their head coach, kidding but the thought crossed my mind.
Ledo was the last starter to be announced before the game and got a standing ovation louder than some players have in recent years at the Dunk. Sitting in undoubtedly his cheering section, I stood up in excitement with his first showtime dunk. I was one of three Friars, along with LaDontae Henton and Kiwi Gardner, watching Ledo control the game in every way.
With little hesitation to pull the trigger from deep, Ledo couldn’t connect on a number of three pointers, early in the clock. His shot just wasn’t falling, and like all great players do, they figure out ways to make their team better even on their coldest of shooting nights. Ledo controlled the flow on offense, making passes that most college players couldn’t make. His ability to thread the needle in a heap of traffic is something that caught my eye. He would have added on to his 10-point performance with more assists, but on a number of occasions his teammates couldn’t handle the crisp passes that Ledo was dishing out.
He was being pressured a good amount in the backcourt in the second half but never hesitated with his dribble. His uncanny ability to make it seem he has the ball on a string at all times impressed not only myself, but the numerous college coaches in the stands, including Providence Assistant Coach Brian Blaney. There was no defense Ledo couldn’t break and no pass he didn’t believe he couldn’t make. He realized early his shot wasn’t falling and didn’t let that deter his game.
After the game, Ledo made it clear he was going hard after Nerlens Noel, who has been rumored to have interest in Providence, Kentucky and Syracuse after his reclassification to the 2012 class. Noel and Ledo go back a while and the two could bring excitement to the Dunk that the city has never seen. He also noted that he and Sidiki Johnson were roommates at a tournament a few years back.
Ledo scored 20 points in his next game and will be in the stands today when Kris Dunn and New London take the court at Alumni Hall on the Providence campus. With Tilton playing at RIC tomorrow, its anyone’s guess if Nerlens Noel will be courtside with Ledo to possibly see their future point guard.
If you are drinking any coffee right now, I suggest you take a nice easy swallow, and put your cup down.
Scott Cordischi of GoLocalProv.com just dropped an absolute bombshell on Friartown. With the news last night that Nerlens Noel has reclassified to 2012 (and became the classes #1 ranked player overall as a result), now there is this:
6’-10” big man Nerlens Noel of the Tilton School, once a member of the class of 2013, recently reclassified and is now a part of the class of 2012 meaning he will be attending college somewhere this fall. A NEPSAC coach who did not want to be identified told GoLocalProv.com that he is hearing that “Noel is said to be leaning towards PC.”
In college or HS RT @GoodmanCBS: Nerlens Noel re-classifying to 2012. Whoever gets this kid is getting the best shot-blocker in the country.
The front court changeover is continuing to take shape, as the Friars have landed 6’8 forward Sidiki Johnson. Johnson was the #94 ranked player in last year’s class by ESPN and signed with Sean Miller and Arizona. However, he only appeared in 3 games (and only averaged .3 points and .7 rebounds) this season because he was suspended for “violation of team rules” in November.
The details are still being worked out and it’s not quite official, but it sounds like both parties are down. Once he joins he will most likely be eligible to play 2nd semester next year.
Johnson is a physical specimen with a long and athletic build, good muscle tone and definition, and plenty of room left on his frame to add further muscle. He is a good athlete who plays well above the rim and has good mobility for a big man. Offensively, he is most comfortable facing up and going to the rim with limited dribbles but also gets easy points by finishing plays around the rim, running in transition, or going to the offensive glass. He also shows flashes of being able to score with his back to the basket and make mid-range jumpers.
Johnson’s best attributes are his physical gifts and although he is fairly skilled, he spends too much time away from the basket and has a tendency to settle for jumpers. Generally speaking he must learn to play harder with more consistency as his motor tends to run in spurts which can affect his productivity on the glass and defensive end of the floor in particular. He would do well to refine his offensive repertoire with his back to the basket and continue to improve his mid-range jumper.
Johnson also had some controversy with his high school teams, playing for 4 different high schools and even leaving Oak Hill in February of 2011 for either violating a team rule or returning home to help a family member. Sounds like Ed Cooley will have his work cut out for him here, but if anyone can get this talented kid to reach his potential it’s Big Ed.
If you follow Kiwi Gardner on Twitter (@KiwiLoveThaKids), it’s hard not to see how much passion he has towards the program even with his unfortunate eligibility situation. That is, granted you can understand what the heck he is talking about most of the time. Yeah, that makes me sound about a million years old by not being able to keep up with the latest slang of kids these days, but apparently I’m not alone. Today, some masked member of the internet created a Twitter account that translates his Tweets — check it out at @KiwiTranslator! It’s informative and hilarious at the same time. Even Kiwi Gardner himself likes it.
Here is an example:
Met at Tha party got ya # text all week slide thru on Tha weekend bring sum friends I b wit players , jacuzzi then got it poppin lol EARLY
The rumor and news front is getting pretty crazy on this Friday in Friartown. John Feinstein appeared on The Sports Junkies (106.7 the Fan in DC) this morning and mentioned that Towson (led by head coach Pat Skerry) was expecting two transfers next year from Providence. One has been confirmed as Bilal Dixon.
Dixon is graduating this year (he was a redshirt his freshman year), so he will not have to sit out and will play right away for Pat Skerry.
Ron Giplaye (who was recruited by Pat Skerry when he was an assistant at Providence) seems like the most likely candidate for the other transfer, but nothing is confirmed yet.
With the two transfers, Ed Cooley will have the open spots that were expected to officially land some 2012 bigs. Buckle up Friartown.
Well, I guess those odds makers over in Vegas knew what they were doing in setting that 10 point line today. Pittsburgh finally got in the win column in BIG EAST play and broke out of their offensive slump in a big way against the Friars. The Panthers ended up a fantastic 11-20 from downtown, with a 7-12 performance in the 1st half to help pull away and never look back.
Ashton Gibbs scored 22 points — including 14 straight during a late first-half run — as Pittsburgh beat Providence 86-74 on Wednesday night to end an eight-game losing streak.Trayvon Woodall added 17 points and nine assists in his second game back from groin and abdominal injuries as the Panthers (12-9, 1-7 Big East) won for the first time in five weeks.
Pittsburgh was in control towards the end of the first half, and pretty much all of the 2nd. Providence was able to make it somewhat interesting halfway through the last stanza, but any time they threatened the Panthers easily scored multiple quick buckets to regain a comfortable lead.
The Marquette Golden Eagles defeated the Providence Friars tonight 79-72. Marquette shot lights out in the 2nd half (they hit 11 of their first 14 attempts and went a ridiculous 9-11 from downtown overall) to pull away from the Friars after a back and forth first half. Jae Crowder had 18 points, while Jamil Wilson had a career high 16 points off the bench.
Wilson gave Marquette a 62-57 edge with 10:45 to play when he hit a jumper from the top and followed that with a 3 from the left corner.
After Gerard Coleman had a basket for Providence, Wilson had consecutive baskets in the lane, pushing the Golden Eagles’ lead to 66-59 with 8:02 left.
Gardner then took over the scoring. He scored in the lane, hit one free throw and a putback made it an 11-point lead with 3:51 remaining.
Bryce Cotton had 28 points to lead all scorers.
Here is the Buzz Williams and Ed Cooley press conference following the game tonight.