The Providence College men’s basketball team (14-15, 3-13 BIG EAST) defeated the DePaul Blue Demons (11-17, 2-14 BIG EAST) by the score of 73-71, in Chicago, Ill. on Saturday, February 25. The game marks the first BIG EAST road victory for the Friars since the last time they played at DePaul and defeated the Blue Demons, 79-62, on January 14, 2010.
Freshman forward LaDontae Henton (Lansing, Mich.) and junior guard Vincent Council (Brooklyn, N.Y.) each earned their eighth double-double in the game as Henton scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Council added 14 points and dished out 11 assists. Sophomore Bryce Cotton (Tucson, Ariz.) registered 19 points in the victory.
With some travel difficulties getting to Chicago due to snow on Thursday and Friday, the Friars’ trip to the Midwest was delayed by more than two hours Friday afternoon. After landing – and missing their appointed practice time halfway across town on the DePaul campus, with rush hour traffic in full swing – Ed Cooley took a different tact. He called off practice, and took the team bowling. “We just felt like it was something we needed to do, since practicing really wasn’t going to help us all that much with the travel trouble,” the coach said. “I thought, we needed to lighten things up. And we have some really bad bowlers! But we had fun. And I thought it helped us come together.” For the record, sophomore Ted Bancroft was the top bowler, while freshman Brice Kofane (from Yaounde, Cameroon) had never picked up a bowling ball in his life.
‘‘It’s a tough one to take,’’ DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘Our guys did a really good job of battling back [to a 71-71 tie with 33.5 seconds left on Jamee Crockett’s two free throws]. We have one defensive stop to make to go into overtime, and it didn’t happen.’’
The outcome means the Blue Demons likely will remain the No. 16 seed for the Big East tournament, which begins March 6 in New York.
The numbers and game winner will most likely be remembered in years to come, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is the sheer will of a freshman who made all of the key plays to help end a long road losing streak and reverse the trend of February’s past.
While he’s not playing like it, Henton is still only a freshman, yet he’s providing the on-court leadership and tenacity that Providence fans hope are part of brighter days ahead under Cooley – virtues that had been lacking during past February skids.
“I set a ball screen, pick and pop, and they trapped our point guard. It’s a shot I take every day in practice. I was wide open. If I didn’t make I would’ve been mad at myself. There wasn’t too much pressure because I was wide open. I just took my time and made it,” Henton said.
“We got away from our defensive mindset. We knew that (Ladonte) Henton, he’s left-handed and we knew we had to force him to the right but we have to stay focused and make sure we know the player’s strength,” said Kirk. “You’ve got to stay mentally strong and stick to your defensive game plan.”
“Trying to win the game you know trying to get a win out though so we can get motivated and win more games, but you know we can’t wait to do that until the last minute to do that we have to do that when the ball tips up,” Young said.
“It hurts but we’ll be back tomorrow,” said Purnell. “We’ll try and try again until we get it right.”
The Providence Friars won their first BIG EAST road game in over two years, beating DePaul 73-71 to avoid landing in the basement for the time being. The conference just wouldn’t feel right without the Blue Demons in last, right? Anyways, good to see the players and Coach Cooley get a much deserved win, regardless of the opponent.
However, It almost looked like deja vu all over again, as PC led by 7 with four minutes to go. Providence allowed DePaul to stay in the game down the stretch when their milk-the-clock offense stalled. OH NOES HERE WE GO AGAIN, #pcbb-town growned as the Blue Demons inched closer. DePaul tied the game at 71 with 33 seconds left after hitting two foul shots, and Ed Cooley called time to set up the final play. Vincent Council broke the press and got to half court, stalling until the final seconds. After not finding an open shot, Council found Henton near the top of the three point line. Buckets hit the long jumper with just under two seconds left. However, he wasn’t done being the hero, getting a block on the other end of the court to thwart DePaul’s chances of tying the game.
Henton’s final ridiculous statline: 24 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
Bryce Cotton also had a great game after some poor shooting performances, finishing with 19 points on 8-14 shooting (2-4 from downtown). Brice Kofane provided a huge spark off the bench after an ineffective Bilal Dixon sludged through parts of the first half. The big man had 7 points and three blocks, most of which were made with a volleyball-esque two handed block style.
Vincent Council, despite a poor shooting game, had another double-double with 14 points and 11 assists.
Unless DePaul can beat both West Virginia on the road and Seton Hall at home (with PC losing to UConn and ND), the Friars are looking at least a 15th seed, which will mean they play the 7PM game in the BIG EAST Tournament in early March.
So, who wants the 7:00PM game on Tuesday of the BIG EAST Tournament? With both Providence and DePaul sitting at 2-13 in the conference, the winner of today’s contest will most likely be able to claim 15th place and avoid the basement, including a little more convenient (for the fans at least) game time on the first day of the tournament. What does the loser get, aside from finishing in last and being the butt of all jokes amongst other BIG EAST teams? A noon start where not a lot of fans show up. I know you’ve been giving it your all Friars, but come on bring it! Do it for those fans in NY who may not be able to get out of work for day basketball, and let’s take 15th place. Oh, and a road win would be nice. The Friars last road win? January 2010 against DePaul. If they don’t pull it off today their last chance to win a BIG EAST road game is at Notre Dame. Yep.
DePaul plays to a very, very slow pace (62.9 adjusted tempo, ranked #330), but that just might get thrown out the window given interim coach Webster’s comments the last few days. However, just because they say they are going to speed up the pace, it doesn’t mean it’s going to magically make the team any better. More possessions could just lead to more missed shots, as DePaul’s 45% effective field goal percentage ranks 294th).
DePaul has some pretty poor rebounding numbers, but their best best rebounder (and best player) Mac Koshwal has missed half the games this season. For example, in their ugly loss against American without Koshwal, DePaul mustered just 5 offensive boards (for an ugly 14.3% offensive rebounding %).
Much like the Friars, the Blue Demons have great turnover numbers (17.6% turnover %, #34). However, Providence might be able to force some mistakes if DePaul is going to try and push the tempo. We saw how steals lead the Friars to victory in Queens against St. John’s. Can they do it again in Chicago?
PC will travel to Rosemont, Ill. for a matchup with DePaul on Thursday, January 14 at 9:00 p.m. on ESPN2. The Friars and the Blue Demons have met 26 times in the series, with PC leading, 20-6. Providence has posted a 12-1 mark all-time at home against DePaul, a 6-5 record at DePaul and a 2-0 record on neutral courts against the Blue Demons. The two teams first met on February 16, 1961 when the Friars earned an 81-77 win in Providence. In the Friars’ most recent win, PC defeated the Blue Demons, 83-74, on March 11, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in the second round of the BIG EAST Tournament. The Friars also upended DePaul, 62-54, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on January 3 last season. PC has won five of the last six meetings between the schools. In DePaul’s most recent win over the Friars, the Blue Demons defeated PC, 70-65, at DePaul’s Allstate Arena on January 5, 2008.
The DePaul Blue Demons return to Allstate Arena for a BIG EAST game against Providence on Thursday night. Thursday’s game is the first in eight days for the Blue Demons and the first since the change in leadership of the program. Tracy Webster was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season on Monday, Jan. 11.
Tracy Webster would love to rekindle DePaul’s early-season magic.
Whatever it was that shot the Blue Demons off to a 5-1 start will hopefully be on display Thursday night against Providence at Allstate Arena in an 8 p.m. BIG EAST Conference showdown televised by ESPN2.
Webster, DePaul’s interim head coach in the wake of Jerry Wainwright’s dismissal on Monday, is looking to reverse a slide that has seen his team lose seven of its last nine games.
The Demons began the year with a good win over Northern Iowa and a narrow loss to Tennessee but an injury knocked top big man Koshwal out of the lineup for eight games. The Demons went 5-3 without him and have lost all four games since his return
Also, Marshon Brooks is on the trip. He has not practiced much at all since twisting his ankle in Saturday’s game against Rutgers. Coach Keno Davis said Brooks is “day to day” but is hoping he can play Thursday against DePaul.
DePaul is not a very good, but we said the same thing last year and the Blue Demons almost beat a much more experienced Friars team in the Big East Tournament. The game is on the road, where the Friars have played very inconsistent this season. The Friars looked great against George Washington and St. John’s, but not so good in losses to Notre Dame and URI. However, this is just another step in building a young team, and our talent should be able to beat DePaul, even if the game is on the road. But playing with a new coach, no one will know how inspired the Blue Demons might play except those in their locker room.
It seems like the key to beating the Blue Demons is in slowing down Mac Koshwal. Easier said than done, considering we are an undersized team. The big man can score and cleans up on the glass. We are going to need a great effort from the front court, especially Bilal. Bilal doesn’t need to be a stats monster this game but needs to keep Koshwal off of the boards.
What DePaul sophomore Eric Wallace already has noticed from Webster in practices has been a desire to be more up-tempo.
“Being a former point guard at Wisconsin, he likes to go,” Wallace said. “I think the biggest difference is he’s going to like to push the pace up and down the floor and score more points. Me being an athlete, I like to run, get an alley-oop dunk here or there.”
Ponsetto has no choice but to take that emphatic stance publicly, for obvious reasons. But the Demons’ epic struggles in a staggeringly challenging Big East, and now the Wainwright firing, give rise to an unavoidable, critically important question: Can anyone win at DePaul anymore?
The first two days of the rest of DePaul basketball’s life featured condensed, intense practices. Apathy, especially defensively, became a capital crime. A get-it-and-go mindset returned to the offense.
And the exit strategy for two-plus seasons of misery was as bracing as a January breeze off a frigid lake.
“Go do something about it,” said Tracy Webster, the Blue Demons’ interim coach. “That’s the whole thing. Go play, give 150 percent on the court and things will change.”
Sorry, but nobody’s going to win at DePaul, not with that arena set-up, not with those entrance requirements in a city with a lousy school system, not with all the other small-time thinking and acting that goes on in Lincoln Park.
DePaul ran out the Meyer monarchy, tried an oily salesman, went with a young comer who couldn’t leave fast enough, brought in a solid Chicagoan who even had a Coach Ray-like Cowardly Lion look, and nothing much worked.
“Rodell was a great player,” said Cameli, “I remember the first summer we had him with us in the Chicago summer league when King had all those great players. It didn’t phase Rodell one bit. He scored 18 points in his first game and just continued to play well all summer, as an 8th grader! We won the league that summer.”
WHAT TO: WATCH
CBS Sports on Wainwright’s firing
Highlights from the first half of DePaul’s loss to Villanova
WHERE TO: WATCH
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Check back here for a GIANT LIVE BLOG, with some other PC bloggers joining along. Come chat as we all watch the game on ESPN2.
DePaul has decided Jerry Wainwright will not remain the head coach of the Blue Demons and will make the announcement at a news conference Monday morning, a source close to the situation confirmed to ESPN.com Sunday night.
The Blue Demons went 0-18 in the Big East in 2008-09 season, finished 9-24 overall and lost top-scorer Dar Tucker to the NBA draft.
In his first season, Wainwright won 12 games overall, five of which were in the Big East. He then improved to 20 wins in his second season, winning nine in the Big East and reaching the NIT quarterfinals. Wainwright then slipped back, going 11-19 (6-12 in Big East) in his third year before last season’s disastrous finish.
Hmm, DePaul is a pretty weak team, but I worry about things like the game played right after the coach is fired (even if it is just an interim coach). Will that spark the team to wake up and play a tough game in their own home court? I’m leaning towards no.