Picked up pieces from Providence’s overtime loss to Connecticut.
1. Much was made of Providence’s surge after Vincent Council entered the game with the Friars trailing by 15 mid-way through the first half, but equally as significant was PC’s decision to drop into a 2-3 zone.
UConn scored 25 points in the game’s first nine minutes, but managed only eight in the rest of the first half, making just three field goals over the final 11 minutes. One of those field goals came when Providence momentarily left the zone and tried to trap Connecticut, which led to an open three pointer for Omar Calhoun with under four minutes left.
Throughout the game PC challenged UConn’s big men to beat them from the middle of the zone (a strategy that worked very early versus Louisville) and they did not do so consistently. Kevin Ollie adjusted well late, putting Omar Calhoun at the free throw line in the zone – the move paid off as Calhoun converted with just over two minutes to play.
2. Transition defense absolutely killed Providence early. DeAndre Daniels twice got past PC’s defense early and Shabazz Napier got a wide open three in transition in the opening minutes. Much of the 25-10 lead was built off of transition offense.
3. Bryce Cotton had a difficult shooting night until late, but it wasn’t for a lack of looks. Once Council entered Cotton had a number of great looks at the hoop – shots he typically makes. He’s been so great from deep this year that it’s almost shocking when he misses an open shot.
4. Providence had all of the momentum early in the second half. A minute and a half into the second PC was riding a 9-2 run to take a 36-33 lead, and had three opportunities to build on it. Council found Ted Bancroft for a a corner three that he missed. PC regained possession and Cotton found himself alone for a trey that he couldn’t hit. Once again Providence got another shot at it, but Council led Kadeem Batts a little too deep in the paint and he was whistled for a charge upon catching the pass.
Ryan Boatright hit a three pointer on the other end, momentum was quelled, and the game was tied back up.
5. The Friars saw a pair of unfortunate whistles go against them late. Down two with a minute left, LaDontae Henton was fouled and it appeared as though there was goaltending on the play that wasn’t called. He made just one of two, turning a potential three point play into a single point.
On the ensuing possession, Napier drew a bump on Cotton away from the basket, and to his credit made both free throws.
As noted here yesterday, it wasn’t the difference in the game, and good teams overcome, but in person the Napier call looked obvious, whereas on TV it seemed to be more of a 50/50 call.
6. It’s worth noting that when Providence needed a basket late in regulation they went to Henton twice in a row. The first time, around the 1:00 mark was when he drew the foul/near goal tend and he followed that up by making a move along the baseline late to tie it in the final 30 seconds.