The Friars improved to 2-0 in convincing fashion Thursday night, albeit it took a second half surge to get there. PC overcame a lackadaisical first half performance to settle in for a 92-64 victory at the Dunk.
We analyze what went well and where things need to continue to improve.
The Crier’s Takeaways
- Defense Tightens Up in the Second Half: The first half the Friars gave up several easy baskets around the rim and a bevy of wide open three pointers. The effort forced Cooley to pull several players, including bringing in walk-on Andrew Fonts to provide a spark (a classic Cooley maneuver). PC ended the first stanza with a 43-36 lead including giving up 8 three pointers. The second frame the Friars put down the clamps giving up 28 points and only 4 3pt makes to finish at 36% for the night. When the Friars dedicate themselves to defending, they are a really tough team to beat.
- Breed Continues to Show He’s Ready: Some how it ended up being sophomore guard Alyn Breed who led all Friars in scoring in this one with 15 points. Breed also chipped in with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Alyn continues to show his promise for the future of PC’s backcourt. With him and Brycen Goodine (7 points) I really like our depth at guard this season behind Bynum and Durham.
- Watson Finishes with a Double Double: With the biggest player on the Sacred Heart roster at 6-7, most assumed Nate Watson would feast on the Pioneers. It never quite turned out that way as Sacred Heart did a solid job fronting him and providing help defense often. Even with that strategy, Nate was able to score 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Watson also did a good job on the glass, securing 10 rebounds en route to his first double-double of the season.
- Have No Fear Al is Here: BOC wrote about this in his post after the Fairfield game but Al Durham is continuing to show his value to this Friar team. Once again his leadership was on display constantly talking to teammates. He also has this calming presennce that is much needed for this Friar team. Despite a poor first half showing, Durham never showed it and knew when to take over. After a Bryce Johnson 3 cut the Friar lead to 46-49 it was Durham who scored 8 points during a 14-4 run to put the Pioneers away for good.
- Breed and Minaya are the 6th and 7th starters: While Breed and Minaya both aren’t starters, they each received 20+ of playing time. They are an asset to this team and will continue to get a ton of minutes. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see them eventually in their starting line-up if their play continues to ascend.
- Durham has been a revelation: I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Durham, but whatever it was, he is vastly exceeding it. His athleticism has been on display the past two games, and he has a better handle than I was anticipating. I’m very curious to see if this carries over when the opponent is somebody the stature of Wisconsin.
- Goodine may earn himself minutes as a defensive stopper on the perimeter: Goodine led the team with three steals, and I am amazed by how quick his hands are. Minutes are going to be tough to come by and will need to be earned, but Goodine is doing just that. He is confident in himself offensively (did anybody see him cock that ball back?), but where he will earn court time is being a pest on the wings.
- This version of Cooley is the best version of Cooley: My favorite moment of the game was when he berated his team up 20 in the second half in the waning minutes of the game. He was doing this because Sacred Heart had a wide open look with seemingly no defensive effort from Providence. Cooley ripped into his team for the lack of effort, and it is something I LOVE to see. This team isn’t skilled or talented enough to go through the motions. Cooley is sending that message loud and clear with his short leash. Keep it up, Coach.
Friars will face their toughest non-conference test and potentially best opportunity at a resume building win of the pre-Big East slate. The Friars will make the trip to Madison, WI to take on the Badgers apart of the Gavitt Games. As of this writing the Badgers are #43 in KenPom, thus would be a quadrant 1 opportunity for PC.