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2017-18 Providence College Hoops: Great Expectations?

Discussion in 'College Sports' started by CouchsideSteve, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    New season upon us; new thread.

    Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding one for Ed Cooley & Co., and that seemed evident through the first half of the conference slate. However, an improbable winning streak to close out the Big East regular season propelled the Friars to a 4th straight NCAA tournament appearance -- albeit one that ended in a bitterly disappointing First Four loss to USC.

    Although probably lacking in the type of high-upside talent to make a deep run, preseason projections are pegging PC fourth in the conference -- behind Nova, Xavier and Seton Hall -- and somewhat likely to be dancing for the 5th consecutive March (Lunardi's way too early bracketology has them as a 10-seed). That's something to be celebrated, especially with a potentially monster 2018 recruiting class coming into focus (more on that to follow). The future looks bright!

    Offseason losses: Very few, for a change... Soph. G/F Ryan Fazekas transferred to Valpo, Soph. G Ricky Council transferred to UMBC; neither was projected for much of a role in 2017-18, though Fazekas showed flashes. Walk-on Frosh Bryan Donovan also transferred, while walk-on Senior Casey Woodring graduated.

    New additions: A strong incoming class, bolstered by the late addition of former UConn commit PG Makai Ashton-Langford (#32 OVR per 247Sports), plus PF Nate Watson (#91) and 7-footer Dajour Dickens (#136). They are joined by walk-on Andrew Fonts, native of Portsmouth, RI.

    Projected Starting Five: PG Kyron Cartwright (SR); SG Jalen Lindsey (SR); SF Alpha Diallo (SO); PF Rodney Bullock (SR); C Kalif Young (SO)

    Other Key Rotation Pieces: F/C Emmitt Holt (SR)*; PG Langford (FR); G/F Isaiah Jackson (JR); F/C Watson (FR); G Maliek White (SO)

    Limited Role or Uncertain: C Dickens (FR); F Tom Planek (SR); G Drew Edwards** (SO); G Fonts (FR)

    Questions Entering the Season
    1. Who shoulders the scoring load? The offense sputtered at times early last season, with Bullock being asked to shoot way too much. By the end of the year, Cartwright was asserting himself more as a scorer, while both Diallo and Holt carved out identities of their own. Jalen Lindsey quietly had an extremely efficient season, but will need more outside shots if this team is to reach its ceiling
    2. How does the backcourt rotation shake out? We know both Cartwright and Lindsey will soak up ~32min apiece health permitting, and while some of those minutes will come at the 3 for Jalen, that doesn't leave a ton of room to satisfy both an impact recruit in Ashton-Langford and promising combo guard Maliek White. Not to mention Drew Edwards, who played crunch time minutes as a Freshman in 2015-16, before losing last season while recovering from knee surgery
    3. Will the young bigs be ready? There's a plausible scenario in which Holt is fully healthy and both Watson and Dickens prove ready to contribute by Feb, pushing Young into a limited defensive role. There's also reason to fear that Holt's injury could linger, the Freshman are too raw, and lack depth inside proves the team's Achilles heel. The truth will likely be somewhere in between.
    4. Do any of Lindsey, Bullock or Cartwright have another level? I suspect the answer is no, and that if there's going to be a "breakout" player it's Diallo, but you never know. Bullock and Cartwright were 2nd team all-conference last year anyway (and Kyron won "Most Improved"), so perhaps this is too much to ask... but one of those guys making a leap in their Senior year could make this team pretty special
    The OOC Schedule
    Nov. 10 Houston Baptist 7:00 PM
    Nov. 13 Minnesota 6:30 PM
    Nov. 16 Washington 9:30 PM (@ MSG)
    Nov. 16 St. Louis or VA Tech TBD (@ MSG)
    Nov. 22 Belmont 7:00 PM
    Nov. 25 Boston College 8:00 PM
    Nov. 29 Rider 7:00 PM
    Dec. 2 at URI TBD
    Dec. 6 Brown 7:00 PM
    Dec. 9 at UMass TBD
    Dec. 17 Stony Brook 2:30 PM
    Dec. 20 Houston 7:00 PM

    *Holt is dealing with an abdominal injury, and while it doesn't sound serious, they play these things close to the vest
    **Edwards is widely expected to receive a medical redshirt for 2016-17 after seeing very limited early-season action and shutting things down in Dec
     
  2. pdaj

    pdaj Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks for doing this -- nice work! I'll dive more into this thread, as well as the upcoming season, soon -- but just wanted to state now, that if David Duke commits to PC today, as expected, a Sweet 16 or greater should be the expectation within the next 3 seasons.
     
  3. PC Drunken Friar

    PC Drunken Friar Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Duke commits and by some algorithm, this will put the 2018 class at #8 in the country
     
  4. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Echoing the thoughts above, the commitment of Cushing Academy and Providence native David Duke rounds out a potentially program-changing 2018 recruiting class (all OVR ranks per 247Sports):
    • 6'3" PG David Duke (#48)
    • 6'5" SG A.J. Reeves (#49)
    • 6'8" SF Jimmy Nichols (#196)
    • 6'7" G/F Kris Monroe (#339)
    I thought this write-up from Rob Dauster of NBC Sports really nails it:

    "With those three former top-100 prospects (Ashton-Langford, Reeves, Duke) in the fold, Providence now has a very bright future as they should be counted on to be among the Big East’s best programs every season. Cooley has also done a great job of capitalizing on the recruiting momentum he gained by developing Kris Dunn and putting him in the NBA."
    Things are setting up very, very nicely for the future. I just hope this highly deserving senior class is sent out with a tournament win or two, and that the potential playing time conflicts work out in such a way that none of the young guys feel marginalized (i.e., look to transfer). Every single scholarship player on this year's roster projects as a bona fide Big East rotation contributor (now or near future), which isn't something that could be said of seasons past.
     
  5. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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  6. Dan Murfman

    Dan Murfman Member SoSH Member

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    UConn/PC on FOX Sports Go 7 pm tonight
     
  7. Dan Murfman

    Dan Murfman Member SoSH Member

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    First half impression. It sucks that MAL decommited . He looks like a player.
     
  8. Dan Murfman

    Dan Murfman Member SoSH Member

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    Total ass kicking.
     
  9. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    The Friars check in at 25th in the nation according to KenPom’s preseason projections. That’s good for second in the Big East behind Nova (#1 overall), while just edging out Xavier (26) and Seton Hall (28). Feels a tad generous, but KenPom has liked PC’s D and they obviously return a roster that was very proficient shooting the 3 last year.

    Also watched a fair bit of last night’s UConn exhibition. Some takeaways:

    1) Diallo looks like he added a 3pt shot to his arsenal, which could be huge — he’s primed for a big year

    2) Ashton-Langford looked explosive and is certainly going to be a factor, but I wonder how comfortable Cooley will be playing him next to Cartwright, given the temptation to have Jackson or Lindsey always on for backcourt D

    3) Watson needs a bit of polish but looked really strong. He’ll be the crunch time 5 come conference play.

    4) Dickens, though he appears to have put on weight, looks super raw. They’re going to need all three bigs to defend against a guy like Angel Delgado of Seton Hall, if only for the extra fouls.

    Otherwise, nice to see Drew Edwards back!
     
  10. pdaj

    pdaj Member SoSH Member

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    I’m incredibly excited about the direction of the PC program, but equally bummed regarding the Holt news. It seems as though every season the Friars have a shot to make a bit of a run, bad luck pops up and lowers the ceiling.

    Holt’s been one of my favorite Friars to cheer on over the decade or so, and his offensive game will be missed if he’s not able to play this season. That said, obviously, there’s still many reasons for optimism.

    Also, worse comes to worse, Holt redshirts this year and is available to play with an a young, talented group during the ‘18-‘19 season.
     
  11. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    I just wanted to thank the original poster for the starting post. As a PC Alum ('98) who doesn't follow as closely as a like, it's really nice to get a primer like that before the season. Will certainly be checking in here regularly. Can't really give anything but glowing marks to what Cooley has been doing lately, particularly with recruiting. Future is bright.
     
  12. pdaj

    pdaj Member SoSH Member

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    Death, where the hell have you been the last couple of years?!

    http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?...mens-basketball-thread-life-after-dunn.16483/

    http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?...ad-dunn-guns-for-3rd-straight-ncaa-run.11832/

    http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?...-basketball-thread-bigger-deeper-better.6621/

    Haha, anyway ... I had no idea you were an alum. Awesome to add you to the annual thread!
     
  13. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    Yep, wife and I are both alum. Was a junior during the magical Elite 8 run (still pissed about the overtime loss to National Champ. Arizona). I've read every word of every thread on PC since the early 2000's around here, but besides reading the thread, and catching the box scores after each game, I don't really follow them that closely anymore, especially in the off-season. During the season, I try to catch as many of their televised games as I can, but that's about it. Every year, when this thread starts, I say to myself I'm going to try to pay more attention, but then between football, the B's and the C's, I just run out of time during the week.
     
  14. Joe Sixpack

    Joe Sixpack Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    3,710
    Class of '02 here, and former season ticket holder. Haven't been able to get to a game in a few years or follow the team as closely, but I definitely appreciate these threads and especially the fantastic recap in the OP.
     
  15. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Glad to hear folks are enjoying the thread so far!

    Though I wasn't able to watch, it's hard to spin yesterday's exhibition loss in a positive light. It's not merely that they lost to Carleton University (after beating them by 18 in the preseason last year), it's how -- Projo's Kevin McNamara sums it up here. Granted, a wake-up call is always helpful, but this team is going to really struggle to score -- even in the OOC -- if Holt and Lindsey miss time (more on that following).

    On Holt, I was beginning to see the silver lining, as you've alluded to. While his absence no doubt lowers the ceiling for this year, having him at full strength in '18-'19 would really change the complexion of that team, balancing the talent/experience gap a bit. Holt was miscast playing the 5 last year out of necessity, and he battled admirably, giving up a ton of size on guys like Justin Patton and Angel Delgado. With Watson and Dickens in the fold, Holt can slide up to the 4 and likely lead the team in scoring next year, assuming he comes back at full health. [Can't help myself, but projected starting 5 for '18-'19: PG Ashton-Langford (SO); SG White (JR); SF Jackson (SR); PF Holt (SR); C Watson (SO).]

    The news about Lindsey makes me less sanguine about Holt's injury. Again, few details are available (sore knee), but the fact that he was the only other scholarship player not to suit up for either UConn or Carleton has my eyebrow raised. He hasn't earned the hardware or headlines of Cartwright or Bullock, but Jalen's arguably just as indispensable. Super versatile defender, who quietly had an offensive breakout last year: shot 46% on 3-pointers (22nd nationally), only a 9.5% turnover rate (37th lowest) -- all good for a 123.5 ORtg (64th nationally; all ranks per KenPom.com).

    Anyway, no reason to overreact yet, but... I'm very anxious for the Minnesota game on 11/13 (early season test), hoping they have a healthy Jalen Lindsey.
     
  16. Mloaf71

    Mloaf71 lurker

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    I didn’t see the game yesterday either, however, I had read on another board that Cartwright and he starters played ~5 mins in the first half and Cooley was giving other guys some run. That explains some of them never getting going. Carleton is always a competitive team too, believe they beat Wichita State two years ago.

    In the Post Game, Cooley said he isn’t trying to win any of the exhibition games, wants new guys to gain experience.

    That said, yesterday still sounded ugly. Can’t wait for this team to strap it on for real in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, Lindsey is precautionary (also heard rumors of a team rules violation) and is back for Game 1.
     
  17. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Finally, it’s almost here!

    Friars open the season against Houston Baptist tomorrow night, in a game that will be played at Alumni Hall. KenPom gives PC a 99% chance to win, so this should afford plenty of PT for the Freshman, who we may be leaning on earlier than expected.

    Looks increasingly like Holt’s injury will wipe out his entire season. While there’s very little publicly known about Lindsey’s knee injury, it does sound like he’s back at practice. That’s welcome news, with a major test against #15 Minnesota looming on Monday. Appears Isaiah Jackson will slide into Lindsey’s starting spot in the interim, with plenty of two PG sets featuring Cartwright and either White or MAL.

    Should be a fun season, guys.
     
  18. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Sloppy start... some lazy D, plus Bullock turning it over with a violation *inbounding* the ball, which you just can’t have.

    MAL is the first Friar off the bench.
     
  19. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Interesting lineup that Cooley is playing with ~4min to go in the first half: Two bigs, with both Dickens and Young in the game. (Dickens, curiously, seems to be following his man out to the 3pt line on D...)
     
  20. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Friars win the opener 84-55. Cartwright, Jackson, Young, and White off the bench, in double figures. Nice debuts from Watson & MAL, too.

    Overlooking some bad turnovers by the experienced guys, that’ll do.

    Big one on Monday night hosting Minnesota.
     
  21. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Big one tonight hosting now-fourteenth ranked Minnesota. Friars fell behind 12-2, but have rallied to a 39-36 halftime lead.

    The good: Jalen looks healthy and is gunning; MAL and Watson look fantastic; Cartwright and Isaiah Jackson doing what they do; the Dunk is rockin’.

    The bad: Foul trouble; Bullock is in a funk.

    Huge second half to come.
     
  22. PC Drunken Friar

    PC Drunken Friar Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I have never seen so many off-ball fouls called... Yet there have been a lot of leniency underneath the boards.

    Game got away from them in the early 2nd half. Disappointing, but expected, TBH. They need a true scorer.
     
  23. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    I’m a bit less sanguine about Monday’s loss. Clearly Minnesota appears deserving of their top-15 rank, but per KenPom, the Friars had a 6pt lead and >80% win probability with 16min to go. Missed layups and silly fouls ensued.

    I’m at MSG tonight for the 2K Classic: Friars are 8pt favorites over Washington, and frankly need a win to earn a Friday night matchup against VaTech to build the RPI.
     
  24. PC Drunken Friar

    PC Drunken Friar Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Up mid - 2nd half. This Washington team blows. They were pathetic last year... With the #1 pick in the draft and added a, top-60 freshman, but that is about it.
     
  25. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Agree. Washington was pretty underwhelming, though I’m sure they’ll catch a few teams wrong-footed playing Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. Was a bit concerning to see the Friars let a double digit lead slip to 3, but on the plus side, there are no bad wins against P5 opponents. Good to see Drew Edwards back, making an impact off the bench.

    PC opens as a 10pt favorite tonight against St. Louis, who upset VaTech last night. Winning makes for a reasonably successful opening week, albeit a sloppy one.
     
  26. pdaj

    pdaj Member SoSH Member

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    Great to see PC win comfortably against SLU the other night, as the Friars depth definitely seemed to overwhelm the Billikens’ short rotation. The team’s intensity from start-to-finish was fantastic.

    The Friars aren’t a good team right now, which is to be expected. Losing Holt for the year is obviously part of that, but there’s a also a lot of new pieces, including the return of Edwards, whose weight and lateral quickness is back after surgery.

    Depth can be a blessing and a curse. To me, it seems as though Cooley is still trying to figure out the roles and groupings that work best. Getting solid wins vs. Washington and St. Louis in the process is very promising.

    I’m hoping the Friars can win out on their way to conference play, with URI (very talented), BC (always a pain in the ass), UMass, and Houston the biggest tests.

    Update: And apparently Belmont doesn't suck. I guess Wednesday's game could be interesting.
     
    #26 pdaj, Nov 19, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  27. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Friars are a 9.5pt home favorite tonight against a very competitive Belmont team who upset Vandy last week. This has all the makings of a trap game, I️ fear.

    Agree with pdaj that winning out over the non-con slate should be the goal, albeit an ambitious one. I️ actually think they’ll be fine playing at URI, who is missing their best player in EC Matthews, but tonight and Saturday vs. BC are sneaky tough games. (FWIW: KenPom has the Friars as easy favorites in both of the next two games, and likes them as a 68% favorite over Houston.)

    Short sample, but Jalen Lindsey has only a 12% utilization rate so far, which needs to roughly double for this team to reach its offensive ceiling. He looks healthy, and I’d like to see him shooting early and often tonight.
     
  28. shawnrbu

    shawnrbu Member SoSH Member

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    Belmont gave the Friars all they could handle. Fantastic finish to the game with Belmont taking a 2 point lead on a back door alley oop with 3.7 seconds to go. Cartwright answers with a running 3 that beat the buzzer.
     
  29. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Wow, what a finish. First buzzer beater I’ve witnessed in person. Cartwright wouldn’t accept the loss.

    Come March, that will be regarded as a top-100 RPI win; nothing more, nothing less. But let’s be clear: The Friars played really poorly tonight. The beauty is being able to pull off a game like this, when so much goes wrong.

    Without overreacting, it’s incredible to me that PC couldn’t get to the rim against an undersized Belmont, and there were a maddening number of defensive lapses. The offense needs to evolve beyond Bullock, Cartwright and Diallo playing ISO — and fast. Jalen Lindsey is as good a shooter as exists in college basketball (no exaggeration), so he needs to be featured much, much more.
     
  30. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Friars opened as 9pt favorites hosting BC tonight — that line is down to 6.5. Important game in front of what should be a lively, energetic crowd. PC has more talent, and simply put, needs to take care of business if they’re to be more than a Dayton/bubble team come March.

    I️ think the blueprint includes a lot of small-ball sets with Bullock at the 5, where Lindsey & Jackson are freed up to switch onto / get physical with BC’s elite guard combo.
     
  31. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    Didn't get to watch much of it, but a 20 point win sure seems like things went well. Given the line, they were clearly favored to win, but this has got to be about as good a start as anyone could have expected coming into the season.

    Did anyone catch what happened in the Alabama/Minnesota game? With about 3 minutes left, there was a scuffle on the court. Everyone from the Alabama bench came out on the court, so they all got ejected. Almost immediately after that, another player fouled out, and another sprained their ankle, so Alabama played the last few minutes of the game with 3 players. Never seen that before. By my count, they actually outscored Minnesota during that period 12-8. LOL. Minnesota still won the game. Both teams were in the top 25 going into the game.
     
  32. Joe Sixpack

    Joe Sixpack Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Pretty amazing, they played 10+ minutes with just 3 players. I didn't see it but there is a brief clip here. They managed to get back within 3 points at one point.

    https://screengrabber.deadspin.com/alabama-forced-to-play-more-than-ten-minutes-with-only-1820740548
     
  33. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Friars played great last night. A bit lucky to shoot 61% on 2pt FGs given the number of contested shots, but the offense does a great job engineering quality 3pt looks (the Cartwright baseline inbound to Lindsey for a corner 3 was a thing of beauty). They’re 2nd in the NCAA at 49% from beyond the arc so far.

    Encouraging to see a better defensive performance as well. The guards and wings have largely been fine, but in the final 30min we finally saw the big guys catch their share of rebounds.

    Awesome start to the season, for sure.
     
  34. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    URI opens a 3.5 home favorite against PC tomorrow. Based on how well the Rams have played without EC Matthews, and how poorly the Friars showed against Belmont and Rider (albeit in wins), that sounds about right.

    There’s a buzz about tomorrow’s game that is palpable, even from where I️ live in New York. I’ll be making the trek up to Kingston for what should be a rowdy and uber-sold out Ryan Center (seats in the 200 & 300s selling for $200+ on the secondary market).

    Friars have won 7 straight in this series, though I️ fear this might be URI’s year. It’s a lot to put on a Freshman, but I️ think Nate Watson is one of PC’s keys to tomorrow’s game: Rebounding simply has to improve for this team to meet its aspiration — ones that are still fully in tact record-wise, despite some shakiness so far.
     
  35. shawnrbu

    shawnrbu Member SoSH Member

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    Cooley and Hurley may get into a fistfight before this game ends.
     
  36. shawnrbu

    shawnrbu Member SoSH Member

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    10 for 19 from the line, only 8 three point attempts and Cartwright is scoreless. You would think PC is down double digits, but it is only a 3 point deficit with Cartwright going to the line for 2 with 3:11 to go.
     
  37. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    That game can be pretty neatly distilled into turnovers and free throws — Friars made too many of the former, missed too many of the latter.

    Encouraging how well the young guys played (thinking Diallo, Watson & MAL), but puzzling to see Cartwright & Lindsey as non-factors. For as excellent an all-around player as he is, Cartwright has the yips when it comes to finishing at the rim: The potential game winner last year at DePaul, another against Minnesota earlier this year, and two bad ones tonight. If he can’t get into the lane and create, the open 3s and transition baskets that this team fed on last year won’t materialize.

    Hats off to a tough, well-coached URI team but PC has been flat out sloppy all season. Bad sign for a veteran team.
     
  38. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Down 12 at half to Brown.

    Losing this game would, without exaggeration, effectively end their tournament chances before Christmas.
     
  39. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Friars hold on in OT, thanks in part to a friendly whistle down the stretch.

    At 7-2 with losses to Top-25 caliber teams in Minnesota & URI, preseason aspirations are theoretically in tact. But clearly this isn’t the team we hoped it was back in October — not even close.

    Fingers crossed that injuries tonight to Diallo & White are minor. With Cartwright gimpy too, this squad might be an underdog visiting UMass on Saturday.
     
  40. HomeRunBaker

    HomeRunBaker bet squelcher SoSH Member

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    Late chiming in here so I'll condense my early thoughts here.

    * Cooley's recruiting isn't by luck. His involvement with USA and the U18 program gives him an enormous advantage in building relationships with these kids. MAL was a huge get and has the physical skills to someday play at the next level once he gains strength. I see a bit of Dunn in him at the same stage of their careers so that's a good thing. I hope Cooley learned from the Chukwu disaster how to massage these 7-foot projects who come complete with entitlement issues based on their "ranking." If Dickens continues to be stapled to the bench you may see a VA native getting the hell out of dodge and out of these winters......I'm not saying to not give minutes that Watson deserves (god, I love Watson's potential!) but find a way to keep him engaged so he ya know sticks around to fulfill his potential.

    * I was also at the Belmont game and our struggles that night didn't surprise me against their active zone defense. Even with this being a transitional season for them, Coach Rick Byrd has developed this mid-major to one with 19+ wins in 12 consecutive seasons including 4 first-round NCAA wins in 7 appearances......a tremendous win record for a mid-major.

    * Not sure I've ever seen a player lead his team in Scoring, Rebounding, and Steals in a more quiet manner than Rodney Bullock. He's like a productive Jalen Lindsey. I really like how Diallo is this teams active garbage wing and fitting into his new role over these next 3 years. This team is just so deep and with Cooley's history of his teams improvement over the course of the season I'm really excited to see this group develop. This is obviously a tournament team that should be in the mix for seeding as high as #4-5 if things shake out right. We have a long way to go but a ton of talent and a great coach to get us to reach our potential. I'm glad the Minnesota, URI and Brown games (and even Belmont) happened early......it will only get better from here.
     
  41. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    Uggh, can't see the game, so just following along online, but UMASS seems to be pulling away with about 5 minutes to. Lead is 8 points. PC doesn't seem to have an answer for Luwane Pipkins, who now has 28 points. Going to need to go on a big run to pull this out.
     
  42. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Short-handed or not, a loss to UMass (#154 per KenPom) is a resume blight.

    TeamRankings.com has a pretty good tournament odds simulator, which I expect will peg the Friars at less than 33% now. Lots of opportunities in Big East play, of course, but the team is playing poorly right now.
     
  43. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Down 21 (!) with 12min to play against Houston. Granted there are injuries, but the version of this team we’ve seen in Nov/Dec will be lucky to win 5 games in conference play.
     
  44. PC Drunken Friar

    PC Drunken Friar Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This team has no legitimate scoring threat. To win, someone has to bail them out by going off on an unsuspecting hit streak. They beat Stony Brook by 1! Bullock hit a miracle shit to beat Belmont.

    This team isnt even "not that good". They are downright bad.
     
  45. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Merry Christmas, everyone! I'm sitting idly at my in-laws in Rhode Island -- which is how an NYC resident like me ended up with season tickets and a passion for the team in the first place -- so I thought I'd jot down something of a mid season report card and outlook for what's ahead.

    Overall grade for the OOC schedule? I'd say a D, even adjusting for injury. Lost all three opportunity games (ranks per KenPom): Houston (40), Minnesota (41) & URI (52); also dropped a bad but not terrible game at UMass (151). Wins in almost uniformly unimpressive fashion to Boston College (86), Belmont (101), Washington (131), Rider (165), Stony Brook (172), St. Louis (173), Brown (237), Houston Baptist (281) & Sacred Heart (313).

    So what's gone wrong? 1) Injuries: Maliek White has been out multiple games (knee), while Cartwright and Diallo (both ankle) have also missed time and played at less than 100%; 2) Free throws: At 66.1% they rank 295th in the country -- this was possibly the difference at both URI and UMass; 3) Turnovers: 19.4% of possessions have ended in turnovers (ranks 189th), with the three primary ball-handlers Cartwright, MAL & Edwards all over 23%; 4) Rotations: Cooley has seemingly fallen in and out of love with the small-ball lineup that has Bullock at the 5, moved Jackson from starter to invisible back to indispensable starter, and struggled to carve out roles for the sophomores Edwards and Young, who when this team is back at full strength, should probably be situational role players only.

    Not mentioned above is the season-long absence of Emmitt Holt, who as noted earlier in this thread, was a key piece on last year's team, but one I thought they'd be able to overcome. Perhaps his energy/leadership would have halted a few of the late collapses, and he'd certainly have bolstered the FT% (taking attempts from Young & Watson).

    What to expect going forward? Both KenPom & TeamRankings.com project a 7-11 conference record, which feels about right. Yes, there is talent to exceed that projection, but it will take a minimum of 10 more wins, plus a game in the Big East tournament to return to March Madness for the 5th straight year. I'm just not seeing it.

    Would be remiss if I didn't mention the Freshman: MAL is explosive and tough, though his shot has a ways to develop -- he's going to be an all-conference caliber guy, I predict; Watson is a force inside, but the defense is uneven. Both are going to get a lot of Big East experience. (Cooley is clearly angling for a medical redshirt on Dajour Dickens, who hasn't appeared in a game in weeks.)

    I'll be making the trek out to Queens Thursday for the conference opener at St. John's. A repeat of last year's improbable run would need to start there with a win.
     
  46. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Well then. A 22-point road win in a hostile environment against St. John’s sure does change the narrative.

    That’s the best iteration of this team you’ll see: Lindsey is a *great* 3-point shooter, Cartwright & Bullock pretty good, and Diallo is showing he’s capable as well. Shorten the bench, take care of the ball, let it rain 3s.

    Quick turnaround for a road trip out to Creighton on Sunday, but the kids are confident and (mostly) healthy for the first time in a month. Who the hell knows after last year?
     
  47. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    I'm loving your posts Couchside. Please keep them up. Just wondering what you thought of the Creighton loss. Probably would have been too much to expect a win on the road against them, but it doesn't seem like they were ever really in that game.

    I also have to ask, how weak is Nate Watson? The guy is a 6'10 center, and he doesn't shoot the 3, and he scores 20 points on 7/11 shooting, but he has only 1 rebound in 20 minutes when all signs point to him being a guy that plays down low. He's only averaging 2.3 rpg in 15.5 minutes, so this wasn't really an outlier. Bullock and Diallo seem to be picking up the slack, but I have to ask what the deal is with Watson and rebounding. Seems like a guy playing his position should have more than 2 rebounds accidentally fall in his lap every night.
     
  48. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks! I’ve found the team really entertaining these past few years, so I told myself before the season I’d try to contribute a bit more often in this forum.

    As for the game against Creighton, I think it was as simple as the 3pt shots not falling, and without Holt, this year’s team isn’t nearly as effective running the flex when they need to slow things down. I’m not overly discouraged, considering what a tough place that is to play (on $1 beer night no less!), but we shouldn’t forget PC was picked ahead of Creighton pre-season. They *shouldn’t* be playing many uncompetitive conference games with this roster, but they will if they can’t start scoring out of their own sets.

    I’m very bullish on Watson longer-term, but his defensive instincts are under-developed relative to his offensive game, where he has pretty nice touch close to the basket. He also seems to get lured away from the paint too often, which has resulted in Bullock and Lindsey picking up fouls playing help D. Cooley and his staff just need to continue to drill that, because given his upside and lack of alternatives, Watson will continue to be out there. But yeah, the lineups when Bullock and Young are off (can’t play Young/Watson together I don’t think) are scary bad rebounding units.

    Friars should open as short home favorites with Marquette visiting Wed night. It’s a game PC needs, but MU is an explosive offense — could be tough to hang if Cartwright’s ankle is barking again.
     
  49. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

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    Well, they lost in OT to Marquette tonight, giving up 52 points to sophomore, Markus Howard....Might have been fun to at least see him do that.
     
  50. CouchsideSteve

    CouchsideSteve Member SoSH Member

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    Markus Howard is special. And it was a small miracle that the Friars overcame a second half deficit without Bullock, who missed the game due to the flu.

    That said, when you’re up by 6 with 1:17 to play (96% win prob, per KenPom), you can’t let the game slip away. Particularly not at home. Just a horrible loss.

    Doesn’t get any easier with #5 Xavier visiting the Dunk on Saturday.
     

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