Providence Friars '16 - 17 Men's Basketball Thread -- Life After Dunn

pdaj

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From Waltham to Providence
This is Providence College, which means when 2 players leave early to enter the NBA, the following season is going to be a rebuilding one. That said, the Friars' talent pool is far from shallow, so there's still plenty of reasons to watch this year. The future looks very, very bright.


The 2015 Roster Breakdown:

Who's departed:

G Kris Dunn -- NBA
F Ben Bentil -- NBA
F Quadree Smith -- Transferred
G Junior Lombada -- Transferred
G Tyree Chambers -- Transferred

Who's returned (key players):

F Rodney Bullock -- RS Jr.
F Jalen Lindsey -- Jr.
F Ryan Fazekas -- So.
G Kyron Cartwright -- Jr.
F/G Isaiah Jackson -- RS So.
G Ricky Council, Jr. -- So.
G Drew Edwards -- So.

New additions:

F Emmitt Holt -- RS Jr. (Transfer)
F Kalif Young -- Fr.
F/G Alpha Diallo -- Fr.
G Maliek Young -- Fr.

Projected Starting Lineup to start the year:

PG Kyron Cartwright
SG Isaiah Jackson
SF Jalen Lindsey
PF Rodney Bulock
C Emmitt Holt

Bench:

F Kalif Young
F Ryan Fazekas
G/F Alpha Diallo
G Drew Edwards
G Maliek White
________________
G Ricky Council, Jr.
F Tom Planek
G Bryan Donovan -- Walk-on.
G Casey Woodring -- Walk-on.

2016-17 Schedule:

Nov. 14 Vermont, 7:00 PM
Nov. 17 at OSU, 7:00 PM
Nov. 19 Grambling, St 12:00 PM
Nov. 21 St Francis, (BKN) 6:30 PM
Nov. 25 at Memphis, 9:30 PM
Nov. 30 UNH, 6:30 PM
Dec. 3 URI, 4:30 PM
Dec. 6 Brown, 7:00 PM
Dec. 10 UMass, 12:00 PM
Dec. 17 Wagner, 12:00 PM
Dec. 20 Maine, 8:30 PM
Dec. 23 at Boston College, 4:00 PM
Dec. 28 at Xavier, 7:00 PM
Jan. 1 at Butler, 3:00 PM
Jan. 4 Georgetown, 7:00 PM
Jan. 7 Creighton, 2:00 PM
Jan. 10 at DePaul, 9:00 PM
Jan. 14 Seton Hall, 12:00 PM
Jan. 16 at Georgetown, 9:00 PM
Jan. 21 at Villanova, 12:00 PM
Jan. 25 St John's, 6:30 PM
Jan. 28 at Marquette, 2:00 PM
Feb. 1 Villanova, 7:00 PM
Feb. 8 at Seton Hall, 8:30 PM
Feb. 11 Butler, 4:00 PM
Feb. 15 Xavier, 6:30 PM
Feb. 22 at Creighton, 9:00 PM
Feb. 25 Marquette, 4:00 PM
Feb. 28 DePaul, 8:30 PM
Mar. 4 at St John's, 12:00 PM

What I'm Most Excited About?:

Emmitt Holt:
All reports leading up to this past weekend's exhibition with the Carleton Ravens had been glowing, and his performance in the game confirmed them. This guy is going to make an immediate impact and may end up being the Friars best offensive player. Not all that familiar with Holt? Read all about him here: http://friarbasketball.com/2016/04/20/15418/

Depth: The projected starting lineup listed above could change very quickly, as Cooley has several talented to options to choose from this season. (I could see Jalen playing the 6th-man role as the 4/3, for instance.) While Cooley seems to prefer a shorter (8-man rotation), we could easily see 10 players get decent minutes in certain games. A lot will depend on performance and development as the season progresses.

The Carleton Game: Did you miss it? If so, Brendan McGair, from the Pawtucket Times, provided a nice review of the game here: http://www.pawtuckettimes.com/sports/mcgair-early-returns-on-first-year-friars-offer-promise/article_bfc5aa0c-9fd2-11e6-ae80-1f1afc51d8e3.html

Long story short? A few of the new, young additions are expected to make an immediate impact.

Alpha: Among this year's class, I'm most excited about Diallo. I think he ends up being a a legitimate STUD before his career at PC is through. Of all the incoming freshman, I think he's most likely to emerge as a starter and/or impact player, although many view Klaif Young and Maliek White as players capable of doing the same.

Should be an interesting year!
 

CouchsideSteve

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So the Friars are off to a 3-1 start, with a convincing win over a decent Vermont team, while handling business in less impressive fashion against lesser opponents in Grambling and St. Francis (NY). The loss against Ohio State was frustrating; while PC was a 7-point underdog, they actually out-played OSU for stretches, but were doomed by shooting 33% from the field.

Overall, I've been encouraged by: 1) Bullock showing he's capable of shouldering the scoring load with his inside-outside game, though he appears pressed into some bad shots due to the lack of scoring around him; 2) Holt is going to be a formidable low post presence on both ends for the next two years -- as good as advertised; 3) Fazekas looking stronger and more confident; 4) Kalif Young is impressively athletic for his size, and ready to contribute this season as a Freshman.

Some observations I've been less encouraged by: 1) While he's a versatile defender, it doesn't look like Lindsey will be making the leap forward some hoped for; 2) For a guy who practiced with the team last year, I thought we'd see Isaiah Jackson on the floor more, with the ball in his hands more; 3) Freshman obviously learn fast on the job, but White and Diallo look really green -- White in particular looks out of control with the ball.

Not much to say about Cartwright, who's played predictably well but for some uncharacteristic turnovers, or Edwards, who's being eased back after knee surgery.

KenPom rates PC 62nd overall (97 in AdjO & 36 in AdjD). While the conference is pretty deep this year, I'm more optimistic than I was at the start of the season, when they were picked to finish 9th by the Big East coaches. Take care of business against Memphis and UNH, and get ready for a really compelling test against a ranked URI opponent at the Dunk next Saturday.
 

Mloaf71

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This threads not getting a lot of love this year. Big win against URI today. Only two losses against legit tourney and top 25 teams.

Jalen Lindsay seems to be turning a corner!

Am I just drunk after a day of Christmas decorating and sports or is PC starting to look like a Program instead of a once every 4 years kind of team?
 

CouchsideSteve

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Big win against URI indeed. I was naturally pessimistic when they fell behind by 7 in the second half, but to their credit, PC made shots and locked down on D. The Lindsey fadeaway and Bullock dunk -- which was made possible by an incredible press-breaking pass -- stand out as really clutch plays. Atmosphere at the Dunk was also incredible.

Going into the season, it felt like this was the first half of a two year project, given all key contributors are expected to return and be joined by two highly regarded bigs in the '17 class. Expectations were mostly development focused. But I'm coming around to the idea raised above that vying for the tournament annually could be more expectation that exception going forward.

Five remaining non-conference games are all very winnable. Take care of those and go .500 in Big East play -- no easy feat to be sure -- and it's another 20 win season, with a strong RPI. Pretty exciting time for the program.
 

HomeRunBaker

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10-2 start with two competitive losses, one to #7 Virginia, and a Top-25 win vs Rhode Island. Unlike many other programs we had no slipups in the low level D-1 pay games. I love the way Cooley has this team competing all the time regardless of competition, how he has been able to establish a pecking order/rotation, and with the way Cartwright has assumed a full leadership role running the team. Bullock has continued to improve as an offensive player as we continue filling the lineup with 3-point threats to space the floor for him to put the ball on the floor.

Tough 3-game road stretch coming up which will be an enormous test! @Boston College, @#17Xavier and @#13Butler.
 

CouchsideSteve

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I've likewise been really impressed with the level of effort this team brings every game regardless of competition, and it shows in the 10-2 record. At the same time, this afternoon tilt at BC tomorrow does have all the makings of your classic trap game.

The early games at Xavier and Butler will be very telling. I'll be interested to see whether the rotation remains 10 deep, or gets shortened in closer games. It wasn't rare for Bentil and Bullock to exceed 35min last year (particularly with Dunn battling illness), so I wonder if Bullock, Cartwright & Lindsey become similar always-on fixtures. It feels like the PT given to White & Diallo so far has been more about development than tactics, so I could see Fazekas & Edwards jumping them in the rotation, with Young just spelling Holt. (Young is the most ready for Big East play of the 3 freshman, IMO.)
 

CouchsideSteve

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Off to a slow start against BC. To my surprise, Maliek White is first off the bench, and instantly adds a layup. Perhaps he'll have more of a role in Big Easy play than I imagined...
 

HomeRunBaker

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Bad News - I knew BC was a tough tough trap game. It was one of those every team has in December that we had avoided up until now.

Good News - Easy getting the 10 1/2
 

CouchsideSteve

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I had a bad feeling going into the game, but am still pretty disappointed nonetheless. If they go 9-9 or 10-8 in conference play, that may very well be the difference in making the tournament vs. not.

Still, taking a step back, 10-3 in the non-conference slate with wins over Memphis and URI is a success, relative to preseason expectations, any way you slice it.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Absolutely brutal showing in the conference opener at Xavier. While the Friars weren't expected to beat a ranked team on the road, Xavier has been missing a key backcourt cog to suspension, and underperformed in the non-conference slate relative to lofty preseason expectations. I expected the Friars could keep it relatively close, but their shooting funk carried over from the BC game, and they were simply run off the floor.

Second straight road game against a ranked opponent in Butler, tipping off at 3pm. Really important one, IMO. About 10 days ago, it appeared there was clear separation between the Big East's middle class (i.e., Seton Hall, PC, Marquette) and the three teams at the bottom of the conference. Since then, Georgetown has shown flashes; DePaul kept it close against Nova; and St. John's has risen from the dead to beat Syracuse and Butler. There simply aren't going to be any easy conference games this year, particularly on the road.

I don't expect the Friars to win today, but coming off one of the worst two game stretches in memory, they need a solid effort. Importantly, Bullock needs to get back on track (0 for his first 10 vs Xavier), and they'll have to rotate better on D to disrupt Butler's frontcourt scorers. (KenPom gives PC a 17% chance to win, so crazier things have happened, right?)
 

CouchsideSteve

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So let's break down PC's schedule and results since the loss at Xavier:

Loss @ Butler: This game was a carbon copy of the visit to Xavier. Friars offense was totally out of sorts, leading to easy transition baskets the other way. Didn't help that Butler shot the lights out and is plainly a more talented/experienced squad.

Win vs. Georgetown: The Hoyas have a formidable front court, which I feared would give the undersized Friars issues. While PC did give up some easy points in the paint, they had a solid shooting performance and got to the free throw line enough to win. Importantly, Freshman Alpha Diallo made some great defensive plays and was on the floor during crunch time.

Loss vs. Creighton: The Blue Jays are a top-10 team, with one of the best backcourts in the country and a potential lottery pick at center. The Friars actually hung tough in this one, but Kyron Cartwright sat the entire second half with knee tendinitis, and the wheels came off in the last 10min.

Loss @ DePaul: Friars controlled the tempo for 38min, despite being very sloppy with the ball. Then, a gut-punch of a collapse, blowing a 9pt lead in the final two minutes. DePaul is the worst team in the conference by a wide margin, so this one extinguished any lingering hopes of a 4th straight tournament appearance. Brutal loss.

Win vs. Seton Hall: The Friars bounced back yesterday with perhaps their best effort of the season. They built a 16pt lead in the first half playing almost exclusively zone D, producing turnovers and converting on fast-breaks. The Pirates battled back to ultimately tie the game with 2min left, but PC hit clutch shots down the stretch, with Cartwright sealing it by nailing a jumper while drawing contact, and hitting the free throw. The Pirates are a talented team, with at least two NBA prospects, but are awfully thin. Cooley and staff did a great job adapting the style of play to take advantage, notably with the zone and also by playing both of his "bigs" (Holt and Young) side-by-side for their first extended run together.

As mentioned upthread, it's a two year project with this group, so success is as much about development as wins and losses. Realistically, I do not expect them to win a game against Nova, Creighton, Butler or X. Splitting with DePaul, Seton Hall and St. John's seems likely, so if they can steal one against Marquette and beat Georgetown on the road tomorrow night, they finish 6-10 in Big East play and 16-13 overall. Disappointing relative to how things looked leading up to the BC game, but probably a bit better than pre-season consensus expectations.

Things to be excited about: 1) Kyron Cartwright has been a revelation at PG, and is primed to have an outstanding senior year in '17-18; 2) Alpha Diallo has ascended into the starting lineup as a freshman, and the talent that made him a top-100 recruit is evident -- he's a smooth ball handler, athletic, and surprisingly disruptive defending bigger forwards. Seems like a really composed kid, too; 3) Fellow frosh Kalif Young is also contributing on the defensive end, and it's easy to see him emerging as a potential double-double guy down the road. He's a true center, so it will be interesting to see how they mix in the two incoming 4-star recruits, Watson and Dickens, who are also low post players; 4) Emmitt Holt is pretty damn good. They're asking a lot of him playing as the de facto center at only 6'7, but he fights hard. Gets into foul trouble on D guarding bigger guys, but he's a really talented offensive player. I think their highest ceiling lineup next season will be with both Young and Holt on the floor, but that hinges on Young developing offensively.

Open questions: 1) Is there any more upside to be tapped from Bullock and Lindsey? Bullock reducing turnovers and Lindsey finding his shot more consistently will be the difference between a bubble team and top-25 squad next year; 2) Whither Ryan Fazekas? Before coming down with Mono last Jan, he was a starting wing and floor spacer. The best that team ever looked was with him on the floor, providing an outside shooting threat to complement Dunn and Bentil. Now he's struggling to find minutes. I have no inside info, but the Friars lose a guy to transfer every year... so it makes me wonder; 3) Does Drew Edwards receive a medical redshirt? He played some important minutes as a freshman, and is a really useful combo guard. Would be huge to have 3 more years of eligibility, given that this one has been a total wash due to a lingering post-op knee issue.

To round this out, the only scholarship players not mentioned above are Isaiah Jackson (So.), who is a big wing player and a nice complement to Bullock and Lindsey, and Maliek White (Fr.), who is super athletic and plays with a lot of confidence -- they're working him into the mix in a similar fashion to how Cartwright was developed under Dunn for two years.
 

CouchsideSteve

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On the Amtrak from NYC to watch PC host Butler this afternoon, so I thought I'd update the season diary since the home win against Seton Hall.

W @ Georgetown: The Friars went down to D.C. on MLK Day and simply blew the doors off a talented but inconsistent Hoyas squad. This one was never close, with PC playing an up-tempo style and forcing turnovers, while Georgetown's scoring wings (Peak & Pryor) were unable to hit shots.

L @ Villanova: The Friars actually showed well in a game where they were understandably big underdogs. PC kept it close for 25min, but Nova simply had too much shooting.

L vs St. John's: Awful home loss. While the Johnnies have some very talented young guards, the Friars needed and should've had this game. PC went down early, retook the lead with a second half flurry, only to squander it in the final 4min. A confused and ineffective defensive effort yielded 91 points, which is inexcusable. To add insult to injury, Cartwright had a decent look with <30s to take the lead -- he was fouled (no call) and the Red Storm defender stepped out of bounds on the rebound (missed call).

W @ Marquette: The Friars bounced back from a brutal loss for the second time in January, improbably knocking off a surging Golden Eagles squad who had just beaten #1 Nova. (First win at Marquette in program history!) The Friars backcourt had success driving on MU's smaller, less athletic guards, and Cartwright hit some very clutch shots. A great effort was almost for naught, though, as the Friars allowed a ridiculous four point play while missing a pair of FTs in the final minute. Bullock played excellent D to extinguish a potential game-winning 12 footer with the clock expiring.

L vs Villanova: PC once again played Nova tough, feeding off a sellout crowd. Freshman Alpha Diallo scored 18, including a huge 3 pointer that made it a one possession game with ~2min to play. Alas, missed FTs and a careless turnover brought down the curtains.

L @ Seton Hall (OT): Most of the PC community on Scout.com and Twitter is up in arms, calling this a blown opportunity. Having sat at center court, I have a different perspective. With Creighton & Xavier suffering losses to key personnel, Hall is for my money the second most talented team in the conference after Nova. PC missed some layups and memorably did not get off good shots at the end of regulation or in OT -- and the latter is on Cooley. But otherwise? I thought they benefited from an uncharacteristically lenient officiating crew, who allowed the Friars to be very physical with all-conference Center Angel Delgado. Hall also made some silly turnovers that let the Friars hang in. Tough loss, sure, but the game felt like it was just out of grasp the entire second half.

At 14-11 (4-8), we can now rule out a 4th straight NCAA tournament appearance. That said, there appears to be opportunity to finish 4-2 over these final 6 conference games, which likely would draw a very winnable game vs DePaul on the first night of the BE tournament (7v10). 19-14 is NIT worthy, providing this young group some valuable post-season experience. The future still looks bright to me.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Last second 3 to win @ Creighton keeps the tournament dream alive. Need to beat Marquette at home Saturday, then they will be favored in the last two, home vs DePaul and at MSG vs St. Johns.

Win those 3 and they should finish the season 5th in the BE, with a small small chance at 4th. Win a game in the BE tourney, they are last 4 in or last 4 out. Win 2 and they should be in. This is a horrible bubble season, which helps PC out.

Holy shit tho, does that DePaul loss hurt.
 

Mloaf71

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I see it a bit differently. Win out in the regular season and win 1 in the BET and they should be a lock at 21 wins. More too 100, 50, and 25 RPI wins than last year.

This has to be one of Cooley's best coaching jobs. Young team really coming together at the right time!
 

pdaj

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Whoa, I completely forgot about this thread after my initial post went without a reply for several weeks. Glad there's been at least a little activity! What a pleasant surprise the last few games have been. I'm especially pleased with the the recent contributions from Jackson. Just a month ago, he was looking like a player who should have stayed at the mid-major level. Improvement from White defensively and Diallo across the board has also been very impactful.

I think if the Friars beat Marquette on Saturday, they could probably deal with a loss at St. John's ... but they'd then have to win 1-2 games in the tourney. Winning out in the regular season would surely make things easier.

That said, I'm just glad to have these final games be meaningful games.
 

CouchsideSteve

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So, when I last posted as part of this running diary of sorts back of Feb 11, the Friars had a 5% chance of making the tournament, per TeamRankings.com. How'd we get to where we are today?

W vs Xavier: After the tough OT loss at Seton Hall, PC hosted a banged up X squad missing its two best players. Nevertheless, the Muskies charged out to a double-digit first half lead, thrashing the Friars inside. A late first half run made it a one possession game at the break. PC then came out in the second half on fire, tiring a shallow X roster by playing a fast-paced offense and featuring a small lineup with Bullock at the 5 for spells. The up-tempo and aggressive style helped them coast to a double digit win.

W vs Butler: The Bulldogs have been a top-15 RPI team all season long, and they torched PC by more than 20 in their first matchup back in early Jan. Nonetheless, PC's defense has improved dramatically in the meantime, and the Friars kept it close in a sloppy, low-scoring first half. PC prevailed in the second with some clutch shooting, while taking advantage of some favorable athleticism matchups (notably isolating Tyler Lewis & Emmit Holt on Chrabacz). Isaiah Jackson found his shooting stroke in this game and was on the floor for crunch time minutes, a trend that continued last night at Creighton.

W @ Creighton: Most consequential game since UNC in last year's NCAAs? Regardless, PC rode the 3-ball to sprint out to an 8 point lead, before collapsing into a several minute scoring drought that saw the Bluejays up by as much as 13. PC was lucky to cut it to 7 by the half. Despite the tall task of guarding future lottery pick Justin Patton (who has 4+ inches on Holt) and K-State transfer Marcus Foster, PC improbably cut the lead to a single possession, before Creighton pulled back ahead by 6. The officiating was terrible, putting Creighton in the bonus before the 14min mark, which I thought would doom any fledgling PC comeback. To my delight and surprise, the Friars regained their 3pt stroke, with Holt utilizing the Patton size mismatch to his advantage, drawing the Creighton big man away from the basket and out of his defensive comfort zone. The final possession was a lesson in patience, as well as a helluva shot by Cartwright.

The Friars tournament probability stands at 40% now, according the source cited above... and it will jump to the mid-50s with a home win over Marquette Saturday. As pdaj said, what a treat it is to have meaningful games at this point in the season, with a young and aggressive group that will graduate no scholarship players.
 

CouchsideSteve

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I'm pretty excited for tomorrow's game against Marquette, so I'll share an assortment of observations/thoughts for anyone reading:

1) The uber-small-ball lineup featuring Cartwright-Lindsey-Diallo-Jackson-Bullock has been used in 6% of min over the last 5 games, per KenPom. I hope/predict it will be a big part of tomorrow's attack, to take advantage of Marquette's inferior athleticism

2) Bullock is under-appreciated by Friars fans, but he's essential to this year's run and next. I can't count the number of complaints I've heard about his turnovers and shot selection, but here's what I know: KenPom has him first team all-BE, he leads the team in scoring, and to my eyes is the team's best defender. The kid also plays his ass off, sometimes for a full 40.

3) Marquette is an elite shooting team, and can blow out PC if they have one of their characteristic slow starts. They need to be physical with Markus Howard, and for the love of god, not bite on stupid Andrew Rousy pump fakes

4) Quietly, Jalen Lindsey is top-50 in the country according to KenPom in Ortg, eFG%, TORate, & 3P% - he should have a full green light through Mar 2018

Friars open as 2.5pt favorites, but this game is a coin flip. If you're headed to the Dunk tomorrow, get loud!
 

Mloaf71

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Took years off my life and beers in my liver. This team has heart and is more fun to watch than last year even without the top end potential of Dunn and Bentil.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Guys are slipping on the floor nearly every possession in the 2nd Half. I can't believe Wojo hasn't pulled his team off the court.
Incredible that the officials and both coaches agreed to literally change the rules of the game to accommodate the floor conditions at The Dunk. For those who didn't see......when an offensive player traveled due to the floor conditions they would whistle the play dead and give ball out of boards to the offensive team who retained possession. WTF???

Shame on both Cooley and Wojo for placing their players at such risk in what was the most absurd decision to play a game that I have ever seen.

As far as the tournament goes we are right on the bubble but the ball should be in our court with many winnable games coming up. DePaul, St. John's and a 1st round win should do it. Lunardi has us as one of the "Last 4 In" but as is always the case for bubble teams it will also depend on the results of the other bubble teams. Fun year regardless.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Took care of business last night versus DePaul (albeit in ugly fashion).

Jon Rothstein of CBS tweeted that a win @ St. John's on Saturday would lock up a tournament bid, and I think he's right. Regardless of what happens, the worst PC can finish the conference regular season is 9-9, which is commendable. If they win and finish 10-8 to match last year's record with Dunn & Bentil? Well, that's downright remarkable.

Ed Cooley is an outstanding coach.
 

shawnrbu

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With the PC win and Marquette crushing Creighton, PC will be the 3 seed in the Big East Tournament. The 4/5 game has been good to PC the past 3 years, but it will be easier to watch the game on Thursday playing at night instead of the afternoon. The 6 seed will be Seton Hall unless Seton Hall upsets Butler on the road, which would move the Hall up to the 5 seed and drop Creighton to the 6.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Picked 9th in the pre-season Big East coaches poll, the Friars finished 20-11 overall and 10-8 in conference, earning the 3 seed for the conference tournament (as noted above). Simply incredible.

I'll have a lot more reflections in the days and weeks ahead, but having sat up close at yesterday's game vs. St. John's, I think it might have been the most complete performance they turned in all season. Granted, the Johnnies aren't a great team and the first half was marred by overzealous officiating (an insane 27 fouls assessed in the first half), but the Friars went on the road and completely disrupted an opposing offense that hung 90 on them the last time out. Cooley had a clear plan: Guard the perimeter to aggressively contest outside shots, while allowing Diallo and Jackson to drive hard to the basket against St. John's undersized guards. (It helped that 6'11" rim protector Tariq Owens was less than 100%.) Freshman Kalif Young was a huge force on the glass, ripping down 10 boards in the first half alone, many of which were contested and athletic grabs.

KenPom gives the Friars just a 35% chance to beat Creighton Thursday night. I think the odds are slightly higher, and the Friars should dance regardless of outcome, but they will likely open ~3pt underdogs.

(Cartwright & Bullock named 2nd team all-conference today, which feels just about right.)
 

maufman

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I haven't followed PC closely this season. Do folks who did see a link between the Friars' unexpectedly good performance and Kris Dunn's disappointing campaign as an NBA rookie? I'm wondering if Dunn got more credit than he deserved for elevating his teammates' games.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I haven't followed PC closely this season. Do folks who did see a link between the Friars' unexpectedly good performance and Kris Dunn's disappointing campaign as an NBA rookie? I'm wondering if Dunn got more credit than he deserved for elevating his teammates' games.
I would say no way. I mean last year's team was consistently in the top 25. This year's team is a good story, and they have done better than expected but they are a solidly decent big east team that got hot (and ran in to some teams missing their better players) at the right time. They are firmly on the bubble and I won't be confident they are definitely in the tournament until they beat Creighton Thursday, but last year's team with Dunn (and Bentil) is vastly superior in talent than this years team.
 

CouchsideSteve

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@maufman: My opinion is probably not, I think Dunn was more or less properly credited for his contributions.

I've thought a lot about how the Friars have managed to replicate last year's record, after losing their two best players to the NBA. The obvious answer is the conference is slightly worse this year, especially given injuries to star players like Watson and Sumner. Last year's Friars team > this year's team, no question in my mind.

But why hasn't the drop off been more pronounced? Here's a few hypotheses:

1) The late transfers of Chuwku & Harris left last year's team extremely thin, so the infusion of 3 quality recruits plus two seasoned transfers have given this team 9-10 quality Big East players for the first time under Cooley (factoring in injuries)

2) In hindsight, you could make an argument that the team's third best player last year was/should have been Cartwright. So while he and Dunn did play side by side quite a bit, for a team with depth issues, it wasn't ideal to have talent stacked at PG. (Dunn was a ball-dominant player, naturally; Cartwright's highest and best use is with the ball, too.)

3) Dunn had bouts of illness and Bentil battled an ankle injury early in the season, so last year's team was better in terms of true talent/ceiling than the record showed

I knew Dunn would struggle with both shooting and shot selection as a rookie, but his defensive instincts were just so other-worldly in college, I thought he'd succeed. He is by all accounts very coachable and an extremely hard-worker, so I'm surprised the FT shooting hasn't come around. (Those are platitudes, yes, but by contrast, murmurs out of the program were that Bentil was a bit of a free rover in comparison.)

I think Dunn played a huge part in Cartwright's development (going head-to-head in practice), as he did in Bentil's break-out season. But for guys like Lindsey and Bullock who have taken steps forward this year, there just weren't shots last year with Dunn + Bentil accounting for more than 55%.
 

shawnrbu

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Jul 14, 2005
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The Land of Fist Pumps
Disappointing game from the Friars tonight. Reminded me a little bit of the loss to Dayton two years ago. The game was there for the taking, but every single time the Friars would either commit an awful unforced turnover or clank 2 free throws.

My guess is the Friars will be in the First Four (Would actually love PC vs. URI in Dayton!), but a lot of games to be played the next 3 days and we are going to be sweating TCU, Indiana and Kansas State's runs in their conference tourneys and have to hope there is not a bid stealer in conferences such as the A-10 and American.
 

shawnrbu

Member
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Jul 14, 2005
24,178
The Land of Fist Pumps
Interesting developments with Lunardi. Going into today, the last four byes were the Big East teams (Seton Hall, PC, Marquette and Xavier). URI was the last team in. URI earned an auto bid and one of those last four byes had to drop down to the First Four. For some reason, Lunardi dropped PC below Marquette and Xavier even though PC was ahead of both teams this morning. Lunardi has PC playing Syracuse in the First Four. Would love to know the justification for this or did Joe simply receive a call from his guy.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Apr 16, 2013
255
New York, NY
I've been unsuccessfully trying to tune out bracketology for the last ~24hrs. Lunardi is obviously plugged in to such a degree that I would almost always defer to his opinion over my own inferences, but... we do know the committee still leans heavily on RPI and head-to-head results, so I have a hard time seeing PC go to Dayton before Marquette (55th vs. 61 in RPI; PC swept the two games head-to-head).
 

moretsyndrome

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Jan 24, 2006
480
Pawtucket
Interesting developments with Lunardi. Going into today, the last four byes were the Big East teams (Seton Hall, PC, Marquette and Xavier). URI was the last team in. URI earned an auto bid and one of those last four byes had to drop down to the First Four. For some reason, Lunardi dropped PC below Marquette and Xavier even though PC was ahead of both teams this morning. Lunardi has PC playing Syracuse in the First Four. Would love to know the justification for this or did Joe simply receive a call from his guy.

Good catch. This is typical garbage. Marquette makes a magic leap over a team with a better RPI and against whom they are zero-for-fucking-two this year. So PC's reward for making such a strong move down the stretch is to go up against lemonface and his billion dollar budget on Tru TV. What a fucking cesspool. I pay attention to the NCAA for a few hours every year, and that's still too many.
 

Dave Stapleton

Just A Member
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Oct 11, 2001
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Ed Cooley seems to be recreating Al Skinners career. Hopefully PC treats him better than BC when he continues to be a one/two and done and appreciate what they have.
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
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Jul 21, 2005
17,585
Raleigh, NC
It annoys me that Providence has to play USC to get into the tournament. I don't like repeating matchups from the previous year.
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
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Sep 20, 2005
5,167
What's the logic behind 11 seeds playing an extra game that some of the 16 seeds (and all of the 15 seeds) avoid?
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2005
17,585
Raleigh, NC
What's the logic behind 11 seeds playing an extra game that some of the 16 seeds (and all of the 15 seeds) avoid?
Well it really bothers me that any conference tournament winner should be having to play a game to get into the tournament.
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
5,167
Well it really bothers me that any conference tournament winner should be having to play a game to get into the tournament.
I don't look at it as playing a game to get in; all 68 teams are in. If you think South Dakota State should have an easier path than PC, seed them that way. What's the point of seeds if 13 has an easier time than 11?
 

Infield Infidel

teaching korea american
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Jul 15, 2005
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What's the logic behind 11 seeds playing an extra game that some of the 16 seeds (and all of the 15 seeds) avoid?
IIRC, smaller conferences didn't think it would be fair for 8 small conference champs to have play in games, and TV complained that if they were all small conference teams the ratings would be terrible.
 

Drocca

darrell foster wallace
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2005
17,585
Raleigh, NC
The tournament starts on Thursday. Providence, like Wake Forest, still has a chance to make the tournament (unlike Syracuse) but they are not, as of right now, in.
 

Infield Infidel

teaching korea american
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Jul 15, 2005
11,463
Meeting Place, Canada
Well it really bothers me that any conference tournament winner should be having to play a game to get into the tournament.
I feel similarly that teams that win both regular season and conference tourney ("double winners") should avoid the first four. Conference tourney champs often get lucky. This year 20 teams out of 32 leagues won both, which is high, and if 62.5% winning both is high then there's a lot of luck involved. Last year only 11 out of 32 did it. Winning both is hard

edit: math
 

CouchsideSteve

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Apr 16, 2013
255
New York, NY
Well, my prediction about how the committee would treat PC vs. Marquette was precisely wrong. All of this year's success should be looked at as pure gravy, but I am feeling a tinge of disappointment about having to play in Dayton.

Tough, albeit familiar, opponent in USC -- a team with size and athleticism who likes to play fast, but not necessarily exert themselves defensively. KenPom gives PC the slight edge (51%) and FiveThirtyEight is a bit more generous (58%), but Vegas likes USC -2.5.

PC will obviously need strong games from Cartwright and Bullock, but keeping Holt out of foul trouble is my below-the-radar key to the game. He actually really stretched the bigger players he matched up against in conference play, like Tariq Owens & Justin Patton. Problem is, he struggles not fouling those types of players on the other end. Might be the type of opponent where playing Holt & Kalif Young side by side, as Cooley did at times against Seton Hall, could be an answer to USC's size.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Sep 12, 2003
9,431
South Boston
Embarrassing end to an otherwise unexpected great season. 17 point lead given away. Some will point to the refs (clear block by bullock, a phantom 4 point play and Holts 4th foul) but they need to win that game. Shot lights out from 3 in the first half, had no answer to USC size in the second. One has to wonder why USC didn't go big from the beginning? This loss stings, but, IMO, they were playing with house money. 2 shots here or there in the regular season and we are hanging with Syracuse in the NIT. Future still looks semi-bright. They should be favored to make the tournament next year.
 

NickEsasky

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
SoSH Member
Jul 24, 2001
8,089
It's been 20 years since I started at PC and in that time I have yet to see them make any noise in the NCAAs. I realize things are much better under Cooley, but is one Sweet 16 in 20 years too much to ask for? It's depressing as hell.
 

CouchsideSteve

Member
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Apr 16, 2013
255
New York, NY
I'm not going to comment on the loss to USC. It was awful and completely out of character. But with a couple of week's hindsight, it doesn't ruin what might have been Cooley's best coaching job at PC.

Some program news ahead of what will be a momentous 2017-18 season:

- Soph Gs Ryan Fazekas and Ricky Council have opted to transfer. Both decisions were expected due to limited playing time.

- Jr F Rodney Bullock has put his name in for the NBA draft, but will not hire an agent. This seems purely exploratory in nature, and under the new rules, why not? If his plan was to pursue professional opportunities independent of being drafted, he would have hired an agent, IMO. He'll be back.

- 2017 top-50 recruit Makai Ashton-Langford has de-committed from UConn, after narrowing his search to UConn and PC in the fall. Other blue bloods will now be involved, but I have a good feeling about this -- would be the program's biggest recruiting coup since Dunn.

***

ScoutFriars posted their end of season report card, which is an exercise I intended to do myself:

http://www.scout.com/college/providence/story/1764574-grading-the-friars

Rather than quibble with their grades, which I think are a tad too harsh for a season that blew away expectations, I thought I'd give it a twist. I'll rate the players' 2016-17 performance as a percentile, relative to the median expectation (i.e., a 50 equates to matching expectations). These will skew high, because again, the team hit its ~90th percentile outcome for the year. Here it goes:

Kyron Cartwright, PG (Jr): 65 - We knew about the court vision and superior passing ability, but the improvement in his 3pt shot from when he stepped on campus is amazing. Two things to work on for '17-18: 1) Finishing at the rim; 2) Stop fighting with PC trolls on Twitter

Rodney Bullock, F (Jr): 55 - Expected to carry the team in scoring, and he largely did. Fans rag on his inconsistency, but he was a top-10 player in the conference per KenPom. Very versatile defender. Needs to work on: End of shot clock execution (way too many turnovers and flails this year)

Jalen Lindsey, G/F (Jr): 70 - The eye test suggests he might be the team's best defender, and by KenPom, he was also the most efficient offensive player. Shot 48% from 3pt range, which is obviously fantastic, but he was a bit passive until later in the season. Need to work on: 1) Taking the ball to the rim to round out offensive game and create space for jump shot; 2) Minimize bad fouls

Emmitt Holt, F/C (Jr): 60 - He's a different and much more complete player than I remembered from IU in 2014-15. Very impressive touch around the basket, with the ability to give bigger defenders fits. Frequently in foul trouble on the other end though, as he's stretched guarding 5s. Need to work on: Post defense.

Alpha Diallo, G/F (FR): 80 - Impossible not to like what we saw from this kid. Smart, poised and really fluid. Also a very disruptive defender, both on the wing and against larger forwards. Finishes well at the rim. Needs to work on: 1) Outside shot; 2) Speed/explosion

Isaiah Jackson, G (So): 50 - Took a while to cement his role in the rotation, but he brings a lot to the table: Big body, steady ball handler, skilled passer, able defender. Need to work on: It's trite to say consistency, but that's really it -- a few too many lapses, like missed layups and lost defensive assignments.

Kalif Young, C (Fr): 60 - Respectfully disagree with the Scout assessment that he isn't a good defender; I saw a guy with really solid rebounding instincts. More athletic than I expected for his size. Needs to work on: Won't be able to grow his role as a 40% FT shooter, full stop.

Malik White, G (Fr): 65 - This might be my most controversial opinion, as he looked extremely raw early in the season, and the stats are uneven. But I'm super bullish on a player who is off-the-charts athletic, an outstanding finisher at the rim, who should develop as a shooter. Needs to work on: 1) Tightening up as a ball-handler (would also be helpful if his dad didn't comment on his playing time on Twitter)

Drew Edwards, G (So): Inc - Should receive a medical redshirt, but could find a much more competitive backcourt situation than he left in Apr '16

Tom Planek, F (Jr): 51 - Walk-on turned scholarship player for this past season.

Casey Woodring, G (Sr): 97 - Closes his career with 4 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Hitting a 3 on senior night would have pushed this to a 99

Bryan Donnovan, G (Fr): Inc - Walk-on, who was not in uniform for much of the season