Earlier today, Providence hosted #7 Purdue in a preseason scrimmage. While we weren’t able to attend said scrimmage (maybe…just maybe…one day), the detailed box score was released, along with a few clips from the Providence Basketball social media account.
Providence defeated Purdue 89-88 in overtime. While it is noteworthy to mention that players couldn’t foul out (more on that in a bit), Friar fans can walk away from this game knowing they have the ability to compete with the best teams in the nation. Make no mistake about it, Purdue has the pieces to be a Final Four type squad.
Here are our main takeaways after digesting the various amount of content available:
- It appears the starting line-up is set
Five players on the Friars played more than 35 minutes each. More noteworthy is that the 6th and 7th player only played 16 and 12 minutes, respectively. To me, this means we have a solid starting 5 set in stone with Bynum, Durham, Reeves, Horchler, and Watson. The first off the bench appear to be Minaya and Breed. Minaya can spell Reeves and Horchler, while Breed will provide valuable minutes when Bynum or Durham need a breather.
2. Shortened Rotation This Year?
One of the consistent gripes from The Providence Crier is the handling of personnel. Last year specifically, it was tough to find any consistency with the rotation. From our point of view, Cooley and his teams tend to perform better when there is a limited rotation of 7-8 players. We hope this year follows that blueprint, as it provides everybody on the roster with an understanding of what their role is on the team.
3. Watson showing preseason hype is warranted
This Purdue frontcourt, manned by Pre-Season First Team All Big-Ten Trevion Williams and 7’4 Zach Edey, will likely be Watson’s toughest test all season. Watson answered the call with an extremely efficient 16 points on 9 attempts with 5 rebounds (don’t tell Rothstein).
One area of concern was 9 (NINE) fouls on Watson. The only thing holding back Watson from having an All-American type season is foul trouble. He needs to play smart and understand how vital he is to the success of this team. Watson will likely be tasked with playing 32-35 minutes a game, and the Friars don’t have the frontcourt depth to stay afloat with Watson on the bench.
Putting that aside for the time being, putting up 16 on Williams and Edey should be applauded and keeps the hype train rolling on a darkhorse All-American type run for Nate Watson. Watson is going to open some eyes nationally this year.
4. Durham and Bynum = a formidable backcourt
The first thing that jumped was 5 assists each. I know Durham transferred to Providence expecting to handle the ball more, and it appears these two players can co-exist as dual ballhandlers in the starting line-up.
Both players also lit it up from deep, combining to go 4-6 from 3.
5. Friars hot from 3 and the free throw line
One of the biggest questions for this Friars team was if they could find consistent scoring from deep. So far, so good. They went 11-21 from 3 today. We all know Watson’s post presence is going to lead to open looks from the perimeter. If the Friars can average somewhere around 35-40 percent from 3, they become an extremely dangerous team. For reference, they averaged 32% from 3 last year.
Not to overlook this, but it is refreshing to see Providence go 18-21 from the charity stripe. Nothing more to add on that front, but seeing a 12 or 13 from 21 may have raised some warning flags.
6. The Providence Crier Horchler Fanclub marches on
I have no qualms proclaiming that I believed Noah Horchler was the best player on the Friars towards the end of last season (not exactly a high bar to set, but I digress). He was lethal from 3 and was rebounding at an impressive clip. You can’t quantify it, but he also just seemed to make the right play and be in the right position more often than not.
So, this stat may have only caught my eye, but his +/- was the highest on the Friar squad today with a +12 when on the court. Good things happen when Horchler is on the court.
Summary: This performance should only elevate the outlook for this Friar squad. They have a chance with their non-conference schedule to start the season hot and become a national story come Big East play.