Friar Basketball

Questions Abound After Loss to Xavier

lindsey-and-macura AP Photo

Two years ago Providence traveled to Lexington, KY to take on the #1 team in the country. The Friars were riding high at 6-0, with wins over Notre Dame and Florida State already under their belt.

Then came Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis and Kentucky. And out went any momentum Providence had built through the first month of the season.

The Wildcats smothered PC that afternoon, holding them to a mere 38 points and sending the Friars into a tailspin that included losses to Brown and struggling Boston College the next two times out.

That Friar outfit recovered by winning seven of their next eight games, but the trouncing at Kentucky knocked them off course for nearly two weeks and threatened to derail their season.

Fast forward two years and it looks like a 25-2 run by Boston College last week has had a similar effect.

After Providence was run out of the Cintas Center by Xavier on Wednesday night (the 82-56 loss was their second worst in conference play since realignment), Ed Cooley said he has a lot of questions about this team.

One of the answers they thought they had a week ago was their defense. In getting out to a 10-2 start on the year, PC had (statistically at least) one of the top 10 defenses in the country. They haven’t been close to that since.

BC carved them apart with the pick and roll, and Xavier scored at will — shooting over 60% from the field and 40% from 3 (up from their season average of 33%).

While it wasn’t quite 25-2, Xavier ripped off a 16-2 spurt and led by as many as 30 in the second half.

Some of the questions Cooley might be asking himself on Thursday morning?

How do we get Rodney Bullock back on track? The junior forward made just one of the 11 shots he put up on Wednesday and has 3-10, 2-11 and now 1-11 shooting nights included in his last four games.

PC just doesn’t have enough experienced scoring options to beat good teams on the road without Bullock.

How does PC re-establish Emmitt Holt? Holt has been a revelation offensively, but took just one shot in the first half and made only two field goals at Xavier.

Can anyone create offense other than Kyron Cartwright? Cartwright was facing a nightmare matchup on Wednesday. Sumner is an athletic marvel and has a good six inches on PC’s point guard. With Drew Edwards potentially looking at a lost season following knee surgery, and Bullock more of a driver who looks to score, the Friars are limited in regards to players who can create. Cartwright is the only Friar averaging more than 1.5 assists per game.

The biggest question Cooley must be asking himself is how to instill confidence in his team before another stiff road test against Butler on Sunday.

This team may not be as good as we thought prior to the BC loss, but it’s not nearly as bad as the 25-2 BC run or 30 points down to Xavier. When confidence goes it’s a long road back, and helping his team reclaim theirs is going to be Cooley’s biggest challenge this season.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar



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  2. Mike Sokoll

    December 29, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Defense leads to offense. Too many open guys under the hoop and too many uncontested shots. Xavier shut down the rebounding on the offensive end on PC. They made PC panic by their up close defense, lots of bad passes for no reason. Over playing defense needs to exploit the back door.

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