Providence completed a brutal week with their second win in two games against ranked teams. After taking time to get our respective heart rates down to normal levels, we sat down to write about the Friar win against a feisty Golden Eagle squad. As much as this was an absolutely fantastic win, a hat tip is in order for Marquette. Folks need to forget about where they were ranked preseason and realize this is a Top 4 (at worst) squad in the Big East. Personally, I have no desire to play against this Marquette team again. They are incredibly efficient in their offensive sets and are an absolute menace on defense. Shaka seems to have found the perfect landing spot.
With all that said, it is great to get a revenge game win against one of two teams to beat the Friars thus far this year. We break down the game below:
Recapping Keys to Game
In our preview article, we broke down the tape of the first Marquette game to see where Providence could gain an advantage over the Golden Eagles (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/01/29/friars-return-to-the-dunk-looking-for-revenge-vs-22-marquette/#more-4462).
- Get Off to a Fast Start – Providence started slow, while Marquette started fast. Things weren’t going as planned, and I thought we were lucky to be down only 6 going into half. It was a combination of great play by Marquette and self-inflicted plays by the Friars (10 turnovers at the half, with Providence averaging a shade under 12 turnovers a game). Not ideal. Providence cleaned it up in the second half, with them finishing with only 3 turnovers in the second half. That was one of the key reasons for a 2nd half comeback.
- Defend the Pick And Roll – Kolek is simply the perfect fit for this Marquette half court offense. He knows how to execute in this pick and roll set perfectly, showing a combination of patience and an ability to consistently find the open man. Providence was still able to hold Marquette 11 points under their season average and 25 points below what they scored in the first match-up. Kudos to the Friars for recognizing where they were exploited in game one and tightening the screws on the defensive end.
- Meet the Intensity of the Golden Eagles – Given that they almost fought pregame, it is safe to say this was mission accomplished by the Friars. Morsell is the perfect emotional leader of this Marquette team and brings an edge every time he steps on the court. Providence matched that aggression, however. Durham particularly seemed to really enjoy the back and forth and thrived in the fiery setting. I believe Durham was warned a handful of times by the refs. As a fan, I love to see a player toe the line in that situation.
- Justin Minaya’s Match-Up – Ed Cooley made it quite clear in the postgame presser that Minaya should be a candidate for National Defensive Player of the Year. He was snubbed of this consideration by the national media when they named the Top 15 defensive players at the mid-way point of the season (a common theme this year when it comes to the Friars). Minaya and Lewis was a great match-up to watch. Lewis scored 13 points, but on an inefficient 4-12 from the floor. Justin Minaya does so many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, which is why he may never be considered for these awards. However, I don’t know if there is a wing defender better in the Big East, let alone the country.
- Get Bynum in Isolation Sets against Kolek – I am confident enough to admit when a read I have is wrong. Kolek is certainly helped by having massive rim protectors, but he is no longer what I consider a defensive liability. He did his job admirably on the defensive end. Time to throw away this preconceived notion. Bad take on my end.
- Ensure Kuath has to Guard Outside the Paint – Kuath didn’t have 7 blocks this game, but still was a force defensively with 2 blocks of his own. He’s a perfect modern big that can alter a team’s offensive strategy while cleaning up around the rim offensively for easy buckets and dunks.
Other Key Takeaways
- A.J. Reeves Returns – It was an up and down showing for Reeves. That is to be expected with him missing so many games due to injury. Reeves played 19 minutes and was 2-9 from the floor. He forced the issue a bit on some offensive looks, but it is great to see him back on the court. Providence lacks perimeter wings, and he is another asset to this squad.
- Watson’s Late Game Heroics – Sometimes I feel like Nate Watson doesn’t realize just how dominant he can be. When he decides to turn it “on”, there isn’t a big man that can stop him in the Big East. Besides Nate putting two Marquette players on a poster to seal the game, he also had a fantastic late game stop against Justin Lewis that led to a jump ball. I’d love for Nate to carry this over to the St. John’s game and play with the swagger knowing he can score at will when he puts his mind to it.
- Rebounding and Second Chance Points may have been the Ultimate Deciding Factor – Providence outrebounded the Golden Eagles 40-31. It was the disparity in offensive rebounds that helped the Friars secure the win. Providence doubled up Marquette on the offensive glass 14-7. With the Friars only going 38% from the floor, getting double the amount of second chances helps mitigate the poor shooting.
- Student Section and Fans were Electric – 19 inches of snow the day prior? So what! The Dunk was on fire and certainly had a hand in motivating the team to victory. Kudos to everybody who showed up. That was simply awesome.
The Friars will look towards the AP Poll on Monday to see if they break the Top 10. Their next game is on the road Tuesday against St. Johns.