Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Providence played terribly while Creighton played magnificent. Heading into this game, most Friar fans felt very confident (including yours truly) that they’d win this game in a rather comfortable fashion. Instead, a combination of poor shooting and subpar defense, on top of an excellent performance from Creighton, led to the Friars being run out of the gym.
We break down what went wrong and what Providence needs to adjust heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Reviewing Keys to the Game
In our pregame article (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/03/11/providence-creighton-semifinal-preview/#more-4678), we detailed what Providence needed to do to secure a victory.
- Ball Pressure. Ball Pressure. Ball Pressure. – Trey Alexander got two quick fouls, and I thought that was going to be the beginning of the end for Creighton. Instead, Creighton locked in and played disciplined basketball. Creighton only had 10 turnovers and never really seemed “out of system” on offense. It was a masterful coaching job by McDermott and great execution by the Creighton Bluejays.
- Don’t Force the 3 Ball – When Providence loses, it traditionally loses because they are ice cold from deep. Yesterday’s game was no different. They went 3-24 from 3, which equates to 12.5%. Even worse, they were only 30.8% from the floor. It was just a terrible shooting night for Providence and one of those nights where there is just a lid on the rim. It is frustrating as a fan to see Providence continue to chuck up three balls unsuccessfully, but I believe McDermott’s game plan was to make Providence beat them from deep. Conversely, Creighton was 39% from deep and 52.6% from the floor. They were clicking on all cylinders offensively.
- Bynum Attacking – Nothing was dropping for Jared, who went 2-12 from the field and 0-4 from deep. It was just a bad night overall for Providence and their star point guard.
- Get Kalkbrenner in Foul Trouble – The Defensive Player of the Year got the best of Nate Watson last night. The sophomore big had 15 points, 9 boards, and 4 blocks, while Watson went for 5 points and one rebound. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap to the opposing team and players. It was a spectacular effort by Kalkbrenner.
- Keep Minaya on Hawkins – Minaya was his normal stellar self on defense, holding Hawkins to 4-11 from shooting and 0-5 from deep. Unfortunately, it appears McDermott’s game plan was to leave Minaya open from deep and force him to beat Creighton. He wasn’t able to do that.
Big Picture Thoughts
- Selection Sunday just got more interesting. The Friars haven’t exactly been thought of fondly in the analytics world, and this blowout loss on national TV does them no favors. I’m fearful that Providence slides off the 4 seed and is a top ranked 5 seed. I still believe their resume warrants a 3/4 seed, but analytics are in fact utilized by the committee, and Providence won’t get the benefit of the doubt after last night’s clunker. A win last night locked in a 4 seed with a chance to sneak into a 3 seed spot, but that is likely no longer an option.
- The inconsistencies from deep are concerning, particularly Reeves. Reeves is one of the streakiest shooters that I can remember at Providence. You need to continue to play him because he can have nights where he makes 5+ three balls. There are, unfortunately, too many nights where he goes 1-4, 0-5, 2-8, etc. Friar fans have to learn to live with this and hope Reeves catches fire in the NCAA Tournament. The Friar offense is abysmal if one of Horchler or Reeves aren’t connecting from deep.
- Providence fans need to take a step back and realize this was just one game. Yes, the loss was pretty horrific; however, PC fans cannot jump off the bandwagon. This is a team that is nationally ranked, 25-5, and Big East conference champions. Don’t lose faith in this team. When Providence loses, it normally bounces back in a big way. The optimist in me is hopeful this shellacking wakes up the Friar team and has them hungry to make a run in the NCAA tournament.
- There is nothing better than the Big East Tournament. This weekend is routinely my favorite weekend of the entire year. I absolutely love being in Manhattan watching my alma mater play hoops. I recommend every single person, whether you have school allegiances or not, attend the Big East Tournament at least once in their life because there is really nothing better. The Big East and MSG are a perfect partnership.