Friar Basketball

Providence Outlasts Memphis


It wasn’t pretty for much of the night, but Ed Cooley isn’t concerned with style points as he sorts out his rotation in November.

Providence trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, but fought their way back for a 60-51 victory over Memphis in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic.

#7 Virginia awaits PC (4-1) in the finals on Saturday night.

The Friars were once again led by the steady interior play of Rodney Bullock (18 points, 7-13 shooting) and the emerging Emmitt Holt (16 points, 10 rebounds), as they closed the game on a 46-23 run.

Bullock earned praise from Cooley after PC’s win over St. Francis earlier in the week. The junior has given Providence all they could ask for through five games — averaging over 20 points and six rebounds per game while shooting over 52% from the field, 84% at the free throw line, and 41% from 3.

Holt sat out against St. Francis with a sore hamstring, but returned on Friday night and promptly dominated the Tigers inside. He’s shooting over 50% from the field and nearly 80% at the free throw line, while averaging 16.5 points per game. He finished through and around traffic beautifully against Memphis.

The subtle story of the game, however, may have been the contributions of Isaiah Jackson and Alpha Diallo.

Jackson, the big-bodied transfer wing from George Mason, had been quiet through the season’s first four games, but he made two critical play as Providence surged ahead for good.¬†His jumper with just over nine minutes to play pushed PC’s lead to three (39-36) and the Friars’ next field goal came when he displayed great patience in finding Bullock for a layup a minute and a half later against Memphis’ zone.

I’d written here on Monday that Jackson’s contributions may not always show up in the box score, but he does little things to help a team win. Cooley played Jackson heavy minutes down the stretch and his six rebounds, two assists, and only bucket of the game were¬†critical in the win.

Cooley’s faith in Diallo down the stretch was also rewarded. Both Jackson and Diallo went a majority of the way in the game’s final ten minutes (playing alongside Bullock, Holt and Kyron Cartwright), and like Jackson, Diallo made two key plays late — a steal with around six minutes to play to give PC breathing room (44-39) and a layup to push the advantage to eight soon after.

Don’t be fooled, this one was far from perfect. Despite returning sophomore Dedric Lawson, the Tigers lost five of their six top scorers from a season ago.

A strong final 10 minutes combined with Memphis’ offensive woes helped overshadow PC’s 2-20 shooting from long range and a sloppy first half from Cartwright who finished with five turnovers. The Friars will have to be markedly better to keep close with a Virginia team coming off of a 74-41 drubbing of Iowa in the other semifinal.

Ultimately, this remains a Providence team in transition — one that shouldn’t be concerned with style points at any time this season, never mind early on as they incorporate five new players and ask more of Bullock and Cartwright in their junior seasons.

After the St. Francis win earlier this week Cooley said he still doesn’t have a sense of who this team is, but the pieces are starting to come together with Bullock and Holt the offensive anchors, Cartwright handling the ball a majority of the time, and different newcomers emerging at various points of the season — as Jackson and Diallo did on Friday night.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar




You must be logged in to post a comment Login