Providence traveled to Chicago and beat DePaul 57-47, marking a two game winning streak for the Friars as they make a late season push into the NCAA tournament. Sound familiar?
Here is our preview of the game should you want to revisit (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/02/11/providence-looks-to-sweep-blue-demons-win-2-in-a-row/#more-3250).
Takeaways from the Game:
- Bynum is Back – It certainly took long enough, but Jared Bynum made his return to the Friars, logging 7 minutes. He was relatively ineffective during the game, but even seeing him step onto the court is progress. Which leads us to our next point…
- Friars Go Small – We wrote a few weeks ago when Providence was on a losing skid that two things must happen if Providence is going to potentially turn this season around: a. Bynum must return (check) b. Friars must experiment with going small (check). Maybe we know what we are talking about after all? Doubtful…
The Friar group chat exploded when, in addition to Bynum returning, Coach Jeff Battle decided to roll out Bynum, Breed, and Duke on the court together. We’ve been waiting for this all year since the emergence of Breed, and it finally happened.
What was really interesting is that Battle went extremely small with Horchler at the 5 and either Gantt/Reeves at the 4. The line-up worked, as Horchler has shown himself to be a superb rebounder. Horchler over the past 6 games (using 6 game sample size as he has averaged a minimum of 20 minutes over a game since that time) has averaged over 8 rebounds/game. What he lacks in size and bulk he makes up for with a tenacity on the glass and nose for the basketball. He simply hustles and plays winning basketball, in my opinion.
I’m hopeful that Cooley uses this three guard line-up frequently moving forward. It is going to lessen the ballhandling duties for Duke, which will make him more effective, and will allow for a more efficient offense (hopefully). The worst thing that can happen is Bynum gaining the majority of his minutes back, with Breed’s minutes being significantly reduced. 2 of those 3 should be on the court together at all times, with all 3 playing together when the situation calls for it.
3. Winning Without One of the Dynamic Duo Excelling – This exemplifies that the complimentary players to Watson/Duke are finding their niche/role in this offense. Watson only had 4 points, but this was offset by Reeves scoring 13 and Breed putting up 9.
I doubt we see any more games where Watson scores in single digits, and it is a great sign that Providence can win without him carrying the scoring load alongside Duke.
4. Mass Rivals Duo Needs to Tighten Their Handle – While there were a lot of positive developments in this game, one cannot overlook how sloppy this game was played. As a Friar fan, you can be happy with the outcome (double digit win on the road) while recognizing that a lot has to be changed if Providence is truly going to make a run to the NCAA tournament.
David Duke had 6 turnovers to 4 assists, while AJ Reeves had 5 turnovers to 1 assist. That is unacceptable. On the season, David Duke has 68 turnovers to 104 assists. The next closest person to him on turnovers is AJ Reeves at 27 turnovers to 14 assists. The next grouping of teams they play will punish this Friar squad if they do not limit the amount of lazy passes and careless turnovers.
I’m hopeful Bynum returning limits the amount of time Duke is handling the ball, as he is best served in an off-ball role.
Providence has a rematch Tuesday at 6:30 EST against UCONN, where they are looking to sweep the Huskies.