Providence, coming off a 12 day break due to COVID issues within the program, were able to take care of business and win against a sharpshooting Hoya team 83-75. The win for Providence keeps them atop the Big East at 5-1 and improves their record to 15-2. We revisit the keys to victory and analyze themes that helped propel the Friars.
Revisiting Keys to Game
In our game preview (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/01/19/providence-looks-to-continue-winning-ways-after-covid-break-georgetown-pc-preview/#more-4358), we pointed out a few interesting characteristics about the Hoya team and what Providence needs to focus on to ensure a win.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’d have thought the Friars lost with my reactions to gameplay in the first half. The cause for the frustration was that Providence likely should have won this game by 20+, but didn’t take away the one thing that this Hoya team is good at: three point shooting.
- How many Friars will be eligible and healthy to play? I was surprised to see Providence essentially had a full roster. The line was set at 11.5 and didn’t deviate much, so I had a feeling Providence was going to have a mostly complete squad ready to play (sans AJ Reeves still recovering from a finger injury).
- Will the Friars show any rust due to time off? Honestly, no. They looked fantastic on the offensive end with balanced scoring. I liked the tempo and pace they played with, and I would credit the run the Hoyas made to the grittiness of their own squad rather than the Friars tiring.
- Defend the Perimeter – This is BY FAR my biggest gripe with the game. I’ll use the old sports cliché of taking away what a team does best when preparing to play against them. Providence, by all accounts, knew that Georgetown was dangerous from deep. Even with that information, they continued to let Georgetown hang around in the game by not playing tight on the perimeter. Georgetown went 57% from 3 and was 40% from the floor. That is a ridiculous statistic. The three ball allowed Georgetown to hang around the game, and it would have been a much more comfortable win had Providence allowed them to try and beat us off the dribble drive. Oh well, a win is a win.
- Aminu vs. Minaya – Mohammed, welcome to Big East basketball. The stud freshman was noticeably frustrated throughout the entirety of the game due to the defensive efforts of swiss army knife Justin Minaya (more on him later). Mohammed scored 12 and had 6 boards, but also compiled 3 turnovers. Minaya is just such a pest defensively and is tasked with guarding the team’s best wing player every game. Cooley was right in saying Minaya should get serious consideration for Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Themes of the Game
- Balanced Scoring Has Been a Theme All Year & Tonight is No Different: Remember last year when Friar fans had to rely on Duke and Watson to score 40+ each night just to have a chance at winning? I don’t miss those days. This Friar team is balanced and truly embodies the “we over me” mantra. Four Friars scored in double figures in this one, with 3 others just missing that mark at 9 points each. This Friar team is 15-2 in large part because defenses don’t have a clue who to hone in on when the Friars possess the ball. It’s a beautiful sight to see watching this team play unselfish team basketball, and I hope they continue to embrace this style of play.
- Minaya the Swiss Army Knife: Minaya may be close to supplanting Horchler in my eyes as most valuable Friar, and I don’t say that lightly. Minaya is never going to have the eye popping offensive stats, but he does everything well. He is our best defensive player and seems to be in the right place on the court at all times. I cannot sing his praises enough. He does all the little things that make it easy to root for him. Minaya put up 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, all while being tasked with guarding their all-conference freshman Aminu Mohammed. Folks need to open their eyes and realize what we have in Minaya because he is vastly underappreciated locally and nationally.
- Incredible Free Throw Shooting: The Friars were able to hold off a late game run by Georgetown because they went 20-22 from the line. Good teams close out games by knocking down their free throws.
- Croswell Continues to Impress: Has anybody transformed themselves more in one season than Ed Croswell? He looks like a completely different player than he did last year, and I couldn’t be happier for him. It must have been a tough realization last year to understand he wasn’t quite ready for Big East basketball. His work he did all offseason is clearly playing off, as he physically looks like a legitimate Big East frontcourt player. Could you imagine seeing him last year run the floor, grab a pass in transition, and flush home a dunk? No way. Croswell has emerged as a key cog in this rotation, and he carried this team again last night with 15 points on 7-7 shooting. He knows his role better than anybody else on this team and has fully embraced it.
The next game will be Sunday at home against the Butler Bulldogs. The game tips off at Noon on FS1.