Friar Basketball

Providence Drops Third Straight

butler-celebrating

It’s not that Providence has dropped three straight road games that is concerning, it’s how they’ve done so.

The Friars trailed by 14 just nine minutes into their 78-61 loss at Butler and never got closer than nine in the second half.

This is a team that will go through its share of scoring lulls as they continue to build their identity. Rodney Bullock looked as though he was ready to carry the scoring load on a nightly basis, but he has gone from highly efficient sniper (Bullock was shooting over 50% from the field for much of the year) to volume scorer since a 26 point, 10 rebound effort against Massachusetts on Dec. 10.

His final stat line against Butler was solid (17 points on 6-11 shooting), but Bullock and Ed Cooley’s other veterans failed to establish themselves until the second half when the game was far out of reach.

A frustrated Cooley called on those veterans to reassert themselves as Providence returns to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to take on Georgetown on Wednesday night.

The one vet who did show up in the second half was point guard Kyron Cartwright, who scored a career high 26 points. Cartwright single-handedly made the second half mildly interesting, scoring on a variety of difficult pull-up jumpers and drives. While Cartwright seemed to be one of the few Friars taking the loss personally, he had to take a number of difficult shots to get to 26.

To focus on the offense during this losing streak is missing the point, however.

This is a Friar team that seemed to understand that in order to be competitive this season their calling card had to be their defense.

Throughout November and much of December Cooley praised his team for its defensive synergy and how far ahead they were of where he expected them to be on that end of the floor. That wasn’t the case following a second straight night in which an opponent shot over 60% from the field against his team.

Defensively, we’re just not very good right now. Teams are just too comfortable against us.”

Providence returns home this week where they are most comfortable in a game they desperately need. Following Georgetown the Friars welcome #10 Creighton on Saturday before heading out to the road to take on DePaul.

Game Notes:

  • I didn’t see this kind of career coming from Rhode Island native Andrew Chrabascz. I’d seen Chrabascz at least a dozen times between his time at Cushing Academy (where he was a teammate of former Friar targets Kaleb Joseph and Jalen Adams, as well as PC walk-on Casey Woodring) and his AAU club, BABC. Back then he was a 6’7 big man with solid footwork on the inside, and athletically he seemed like a great fit for the Atlantic-10 when he committed to Brad Stevens and Butler. Stevens left Butler for the Celtics and unlike classmate Rene Castro, Chrabascz stayed at Butler and is on his way to a third straight NCAA Tournament. The most underrated aspect of his game is his passing ability, and over the course of the last four years Chrabascz turned himself into a viable 3-point shooter (37% last year, 46% as a senior). He didn’t have that kind of range in the prep ranks. Chrabascz’s development is a reminder of just how difficult it can be to forecast what an 18 year old prospect will eventually become.
  • Isaiah Jackson scored 17 points against Xavier last week — by far his best scoring output of the season — but he played just nine minutes against Butler after starting once again.
  • Meanwhile, Ryan Fazekas saw a boost in his minutes (24), but PC has struggled to get him looks (three shots attempts vs. Butler). The 24 minutes marked the first time Fazekas played 20 minutes in a game since the Memphis win on Nov. 25. 43 of his 57 shot attempts have come from beyond the arc this season and he’s making them at nearly 40% (.395).
  • After grabbing 17 rebounds against Wagner and Maine, Jalen Lindsey has just three boards during PC’s three game losing streak. Prior to this losing stretch, he hadn’t had fewer than three rebounds in a game since the Memphis win.
  • Cartwright is currently 3rd in the nation in assist rate (assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court).

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

Email: kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com