Going into the game there were a lot of uncertainties. Both teams coming off a lengthy COVID pause, Hall being down to 8 players, and the Friars playing basically a 7 man rotation. In the end it was the Friars cruising to a 70-65 victory despite a resilient Pirate team not going away. For the Friars, (12-1, 2-0) it was their fifth Quad 1 victory and their 7th straight victory overall. Some called it a street fight, let’s see how it went down.
Revisiting Keys to the Game
See our preview article here, where we detail what to watch for heading into the Seton Hall game. https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/12/29/providence-hosts-seton-hall-in-top-25-showdown/#more-4204
- COVID Impact on Game – Both teams had players sitting out due to COVID protocols, but Seton Hall clearly got the short end of the stick with notable rotation players Tyrese Samuel and Ike Obiagu out. Providence’s only player that receives minutes that was ineligible to play was Brycen Goodine.
- Bryce Aiken’s impact on the game – Aiken was rather ineffective, totaling 11 points on 3-11 shooting. Cooley also made it a point of emphasis to attack him on the drive. Aiken is hit or miss and fortunately for the Friars this was a miss game.
- Homecourt Advantage? – We were dead wrong about this one. We thought the Dunk wouldn’t be that lively due to holidays and COVID. From what we saw on TV, the Dunk was packed and energetic. Cooley was very appreciative of the fans post-game.
- Slowing Down Rhoden – Rhoden was frustrated all night. He finished with 10 and 10, but had 4 fouls and went 4-12 from the field. Minaya played stellar defense on him, with his pesky on-ball defense being a clear factor to the Friar win.
- Another Test for PC’s Frontcourt – This one should have an asterisk next to it, as we wrote the preview article prior to two Seton Hall frontcourt staples being ruled out. I think the takeaway from this game is the continued emergence nationally of Noah Horchler. He’s becoming one of the faces of this year’s Big East.
- Take Care of the Basketball – This one was a bit frustrating to me. Seton Hall certainly fought back, but Providence gave up the ball way too many times this game. Durham and Bynum each had three turnovers, and many of these were of the variety that led to quick buckets on the other end.
Themes of the Game
Horchler’s Shooting Spree, Defense Fuel Friars- It was no question that the player of the game in this one was Noah Horchler. Noah finished with a game high 17 points on 5/6 from three. If he wasn’t hitting a 3 he was getting a block, a steal, or gobbling up one of his 13 rebounds. He did it all in this one for PC, and it was especially huge considering Nate Watson played through an injury suffered early in the first half. Watson finished up the game with 14 points, 7 rebounds himself but it was his side-kick in the frontcourt’s night.
Bynum, Durham and Reeves in Attack Mode- With Seton Hall missing two key frontcourt players due to Covid, the Friars wasted no time to take advantage. Durham seemed to be always on the attack getting to the line for 10 free throw attempts, 4 of which he swished in crunch time. Bynum constantly drove to the rim, taking advantage of Bryce Aiken en route to 14 points and 4 assists. Reeves wasn’t hitting threes early for the Friars so he got in the action with several buckets at the rim. Consider this Bynum/Durham/Reeves combined for 37 points with only one made three pointer. The one make was a huge dagger by AJ Reeves off a quick inbounds play at the shot clock in the waning moments.
Friars Kept Rhoden/Aiken at Bay- We spoke about it on the pod and in our preview that PC needed to try and slow down Rhoden and prevent a good scoring outing from Aiken. Consider both tasks completed in this one. Rhoden finished far off his season average with 10 points on 4/12 shooting. Minaya was glued to his hip all night. Bryce Aiken had 11 points on 3/11 shooting. The fact that Hall was down to 8 players and had their two leading scorers held to 21 points yet only lost by 5 is pretty remarkable. You have to give credit to Willard and his staff for getting his guys ready despite a lack of practice time and bodies. For the Friars, their curtain call has been their defense of late, holding the opposition to under 70 points in 6 straight games. I don’t care who’s playing or who isn’t, the Friar defense is legit this year.
Cooley Having a Vintage Cooley Season- When Coach Cooley likes his team you can see it in the way he carries himself. When his team is playing connected and tough nosed you can see the enthusiasm oozing out of Cooley on the sidelines. Well that was certainly on display in this one especially during a mic’d up moment in the huddle.
The players have certainly responded and bought in this year. Things can certainly change over the course of the meatgrinder that is the Big East, but it appears the 7th preseason ranking was a major oversight. At this point is gotta be front and center in the National Coach of the Year race.
Friars will take their act on the road for 2 games. The first will be at DePaul on New Years Day, with tip at 3pm on Fox. After that, the Friars will face Marquette on the following Tuesday.