Last night the Crier made his way to the Dunk for the first time this season to see the Friars beat Holy Cross 70-61. Before we get into the game, I must point out that the Dunk really classed it up this year. The new Jumbotron is a great addition and makes the entire game experience better. Did you know that there’s a Budweiser Bar & Grill on Level 3? I did not! I was running late to the game so didn’t get to stop by, but my fellow co-minority owners caught some of the game there and gave rave reviews. As a new season ticket holder/minority owner of the Dunk, I take great pride in the arena and really like what they’ve done with the place this off season. Alright now let’s get to my takeaways from PC’s 9-point victory over the Cross.
Alpha and Nate Save the Day
As I mentioned earlier, I was a little late to the Dunk for this one with Boston traffic being BRUTAL. I ended up only catching the final 5 minutes of the first half that would find the Friars trailing by 4. I was running through my twitter timeline when I got back from the game and didn’t realize how panicked all of Friartown was from the first half. What kept this game from a nail-biter for Friar fans was the second half play of Alpha Diallo and Nate Watson. There was a point in the game where every possession, either Alpha was sticking a midrange jumper or Nate Watson was throwing down a ferocious slam. Alpha and Nate combined for 21 of the Friars 37 second-half points and they provided firepower that the Crusaders just couldn’t match. It was great to see those two be the Go-To guys when we really needed them most.
Game of Zone?
Holy Cross’ Matt Faw drained a three-pointer to put the Saders up 46-37 with 16:22 to play. After that Cooley decided to switch from man defense to a zone and with good reason. Our man-to-man defense from what I saw was fucking atrocious. Guys were being left wide open and Holy Cross was getting easy lanes to the basket with their backdoor cuts. I’m excited for what the player Jimmy Nichols could potentially become, but he looked lost on defense; he’d be constantly out of position and players would blow by him, leaving him with the last resort of fouling. Are we going to turn into a zone team this year? I don’t see Cooley giving up on man to man this early and it seemed more of a decision based on the team they were facing, but it’s a fair question. I’m not sure if our zone was that great either- there was constantly a Sader who got behind it, but they didn’t have the players that could find him. I think this will be an interesting thing to monitor because we have the length and athleticism to be good at both defenses, but clearly our man-to-man has been terrible thus far.
While most people may have been panicking, the Crier wasn’t that worried in this one. We were down by as many as 9 in the second half but as soon as we started getting going in the second half, I wasn’t worried about dropping this one. These type of games are going to happen in nonconference when we play poorly against an inferior opponent. The goal is just to get the W when the final whistle blows. The Friars didn’t play their best game last night, and they need to play better this weekend in Mohegan, but I saw a lot of positives in the final 16 minutes of the game that this team can build on. Friars will take on University of South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday at 2:30, until then Friartown!