The Providence Friars came into the Legends Classic looking to right some wrongs from past holiday tournament showings and are off to a heck of a start. The Friars beat a very strong Northwestern Wildcat team to advance to 5-0 on the season. They play Virginia tonight at 7:30 PM EST on ESPN2 in the championship.
We detail the win and discuss some takeaways from the game last night
This isn’t last year’s squad – PC can play some serious D
Northwestern came into the game averaging 82 points. Providence held them to 72 points. Wisconsin is averaging 70 points. Providence held them to 58 at their place. This Friar team has size and athleticism down low and can pair that nicely with length and quickness on the wing. If Providence can stay mentally locked in, they’ll have one of the better defensive squads in the nation.
All hands on deck – contributions from the entirety of the roster
Last year, you could rely on Duke and Watson to put up 40-50 points a game. That was a given. Too often though, you were left wondering who else would contribute. Often times, there wouldn’t be anybody else who chipped in offensively.
That just isn’t the case this year, where offense is coming from all facets of this roster. Brycen Goodine was the man last night, making 4 three balls and totaling 12 points. Bynum, Durham, and Horchler also were in double figures.
When you have a true team effort on both ends, it lightens the proverbial weight off the shoulders of a star like Nate Watson because he knows his teammates can help carry the team to a victory.
Providence jumping out to early leads puts their opponent in a severe bind
Providence started the game scorching hot, led by PG Jared Bynum, and proceeded to hold that lead for the entirety of the game. If the Friars can jump out to an early lead, it plays right into the hands of what Cooley wants to do. If they can jump out to an early lead, it gives the Friar team the ability to aggressively defend and be more creative on the offensive end. Even with end of game snafus, Providence has built up sizable leads where a few mistakes here and there don’t come back to ultimately bite the Friars squad.
Just like against Wisconsin, Providence built a double digit lead and was able to withstand the end of game comeback attempt. Getting an early lead allows that to happen. Kudos to the Friars for coming ready to play from the opening tip.
Clutch from the charity stripe
Providence has been horrendous from the line to date, but made up for it in a big way against Northwestern. Providence went 13-15 from the line, with Durham in particular icing the game. It was reminiscent of Pipkins from 2 years ago.
Box score doesn’t tell the story of impact of Minaya
Minaya got the start over Reeves tonight. While his stat line doesn’t jump out (3 points and 6 boards), he does so many things that help a team win. He had to have had 2 or 3 effort plays that kept an offensive possession alive that led to a bucket.
He works his tail off on both ends, and Providence is very lucky to have him on their squad.