Friars Succumb to the Stifling Virginia Defense – Lose 58-40

In the final of the Legends Classic, Coach Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers showed their championship pedigree. The Cavs flexed their defensive muscles, shutting down the Friar offense to win 58-40.

Below, we revisit the keys to the game in our preview and detail where Providence went astray.

Revisiting Keys to Game

1. Start Hot – Well, this didn’t go as planned. Virginia jumped out to a lead and never gave it up. When playing a Cavalier team, being down 10 points is the equivalent of being down 20 to others.

Virginia made a concerted effort to shut down Nate Watson, daring the other Friars to beat them. They couldn’t do so. Watson was doubled the instant he touched the ball, and Providence needs to be ready to have this same defensive strategy employed against them moving forward.

2. Watson & Horchler need to be ready to pass out of double teams – I actually thought Watson did an admirable job of this. I only recall one turnover early in the game from the doubling of Watson. Providence just couldn’t make the Cavaliers punish by knocking down the open shot.

3. Get out in transition as much as possible – You cannot score against this Cavs team in a half court set, and you certainly cannot score on them going East-West. Providence, in my opinion, didn’t push the pace enough. Providence only had 9 assists in the game, with 8 turnovers. Not ideal.

It also is difficult to push the ball when the Cavs are making baskets. They went 49% from the floor, which allowed them to get into their defensive set.

4. Team Rebounding a Must – Again, another fail here. Horchler had 7 boards, and Watson had 4 boards. Nobody else had more than 3 rebounds.

Other Takeaways

1. Providence is going to need to learn to beat other teams when Watson has an “off” night. While fans have come to expect 16 and 6 every night from him, that isn’t realistic. Watson was essentially taken out of the game by Bennett and the Cavalier D. Nobody else stepped up on the offensive end. I personally believe it was just an off night for the offense, so I’m not overly concerned.

2. This Friar team feels different than last year’s squad. How many times did Providence get down early in games last year and never show any fight? While the score may make folks think this game was out of reach, there was a period in the second half where Providence cut the lead to 6 points. Virginia countered with a punch of their own to get a double digit lead back, but it was very impressive to see Providence claw their way back and not give up. I like the make-up of this team moving forward. They just ran into a buzzsaw in Virginia who is finding their footing. Couple that with a poor offensive showing, and these results happen.

3. A 1-1 result, with a win against Northwestern, means this tournament was a success. I know that sounds crazy to say, but that win will look very good in the future. Northwestern beat Georgia handily, and Wisconsin also beat Houston. Those two wins will help Providence come tourney time.

A win Saturday against St. Peter’s gets things back on track ahead of a vital week against Texas Tech and URI.

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