After taking a few days to digest/recover from my trip to the 2k Classic the Crier is ready to provide you his impressions from the two day tournament. The Crier made his grand return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Friars won the Big East Tournament back in 2014. After being escorted out of MSG for a Big East Championship merch misunderstanding I thought there would be signs hanging up listing me as banned from the arena. Luckily for the Crier this was not the case and I was able to enjoy the tournament at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The first game on Thursday the arena was pretty empty (MSG employee told me they only sold 3,500 tickets for Thursday), the game didn’t tip until 9:50pm and the only UW fans there were in the band. The arena was so empty that I decided to stream the Celtics Warriors game on my phone during play. It seemed like the Friar players were doing the same because the Friars were very sloppy in a 7-point win over the Huskies. The game on Friday was the exact opposite of the first game. The arena was much more lively and the Friars put on a show for their fans in a 90-63 drubbing of the St. Louis Billikens. Here are my takeaways.
Shoot More Threes?:
This year’s 2K Classic has shown the Crier that the 2017-2018 Friars can be lethal from downtown. For the 2K Classic the Friars shot 68% (17/25) from 3-point land including a ghost peppery 90% clip in the championship game. I personally think the Friars should be taking more 3-pointers. While the Friars aren’t going to shoot this high of a rate all year and I don’t want them jacking up dumb shots however I feel the team is at their best when they’re mixing in the 3-point shot the entire game. In the 2nd Half vs UW the Friars only attempted 5 3s and I feel it was responsible for the Huskies getting back into the game.
Guards Off The Bench:
The Friar guards that came off the bench this weekend impressed me so much that I couldn’t leave one of them out. Drew Edwards came off the bench in Thursday’s win and scored 11 points on 3 of 4 from the floor and played active defense in his 18 minutes of play. Maliek White continued to show that he could be a scoring sparkplug off the bench this season has he poured in 11 points including 3/3 from 3 in the championship game. Makai Ashton-Langford in the title game showed Friar fans a glimpse of how good he can really be and you can’t help but be excited. He dazzled in the first half of the championship game going 5/5 from the floor scoring 11 points. It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t miss that impressed me but the degree of difficulty of the drives he had in the line and his ability to finish with relative ease was impressive.
Interior Defense/Rebounding an Issue:
While it may have not cost them any games in the 2K Classic the Friars continue to show that they miss Emmitt Holt’s presence down low. In both victories the Friars held their own on the boards overall but their opponents killed them on the offensive glass. The Friars gave up a total 33 offensive rebounds in two games, that’s a trend that can’t continue. With no return date in sight for Holt the Friars are going to have to find ways to defend in the post and keep their opponents off the offensive glass.
Bullock Breaks Out of Mini Slump:
While it was Kyron Cartwright who took home the 2K Classic MVP (and deservedly so) I thought Rodney Bullock’s performance shouldn’t be go unnoticed. In the first two games of the year Bullock failed to score double figures and he did so in both contests of the 2K Classic and made first team all-tournament. He seemed much more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball and found his stroke from distance going 4/5 in the tournament. While I knew it the mini slump wouldn’t last the hope is Rodney can really build of his performance at MSG and be a more consistent scoring threat for the Friars in his last season.
The Friars will be back in action tomorrow at the Dunkin Donuts Center to face a Belmont Tiger team that has already beaten Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee this season. Stay tuned for my preview of the game that will be coming out tomorrow.