Friar Basketball

On SJU, Cartwright, Duke, and the BET

Nate Watson SJU

Since the reconfiguration of the Big East, Providence has not finished below .500 in league play. The Friars have gone 10-8 in four of the five seasons since the latest round of conference realignment, with their best record (11-7) coming in 2014-15. That group was led by Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton and was a six seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Ten conference wins looked to be anything but a certainly at points this season. The Friars lost three of fives games to kick off December, with one of those wins coming in overtime against Brown, trailed by 30 in an eventual home loss to DePaul, and have struggled through prolonged offensive droughts in several games over the past two months.

So, how did they get here? A strong start to conference play certainly didn’t hurt. Providence was 5-2 in the Big East after seven games, including a win over #5 Xavier and back-to-back victories over tournament teams in Creighton and Butler. If not for blowing a six-point lead with a minute remaining against Marquette, Ed Cooley’s group would have been 6-1 after seven Big East games.

Following the 5-2 start, the Friars are 5-6 in their last 11 games, but picked up a critical victory over then #3 Villanova in mid-February.

Providence is squarely on the bubble, and while losses to Massachusetts, DePaul, and Minnesota will hurt their résumé, no bubble team can match a pair of victories as strong as the Xavier and Nova wins.

Friar fans will likely sweat out Selection Sunday, but an opening game win in next week’s Big East Tournament would go a long way.

Creighton Awaits

Creighton, Seton Hall, and Providence all finished with 10-8 conference records, and the Friars will take on the Jays in Thursday’s game between the fourth and fifth place finishers in the league.

Creighton is dangerous, but this writer is happy that Providence avoided Seton Hall — the only team in the Big East to sweep PC in the regular season. Like Providence, Creighton won five of its first seven conference games, and rode a wave of inconsistency the rest of the way.

After narrowly defeating DePaul (76-75), Creighton fell by just a point to Xavier in a game that they rightfully felt as though they got the short end of the stick on a bad call in the waning seconds.

Over their last five Big East games, the Jays are 2-3. They were swept by Marquette during this stretch and lost by 23 to Butler, but managed to knock off Villanova in a wild overtime game in Omaha.

Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are a tremendous backcourt duo, but the loss of big man Martin Krampelj to injury has been felt. Creighton’s inconsistency could be tied back to the loss of their center. Krampelj was a 12-point, eight-rebound big who seemed to improve by the week.

Providence and Creighton will play at 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon.

Youngsters on Senior Day

Perhaps the most positive development of the past week has been the increase in production by Providence’s underclassmen, specifically sophomore guard Maliek White and freshman big man Nate Watson.

PC hung tough against Xavier on Wednesday. White was key in that one with 15 points off of the bench. When Xavier threatened to pull away after jumping out to a 21-8 lead, Watson scored six quick points to bring PC back into the game.

Providence’s offense sputtered in the first half on Saturday against St. John’s until White provided a lift. On a team that struggles to both score and create, White’s creativity has been welcome over the past two games.

Cooley leaned heavily on his seniors on Saturday, as White did not see the floor for a majority of the second half. The Friars went over eight minutes without a field goal with White on the bench.

Watson’s confidence appears to be growing. He went 4-5 from the field, scored nine points, and was key to PC pushing its advantage to double figures early in the second half. His defense and rebounding continue to be a work in progress, but progress has been made in recent weeks — enough so that this team that struggles for such long stretches will need Watson as an outlet to dump the ball into when the offense stagnates.

Watson has 27 points over his last three games and one thing to keep in mind heading into Thursday is his 20-point effort at Creighton in December.

Cartwright Closes

The Big East’s Twitter account said it best: it’s fitting that Kyron Cartwright closed his Senior Day out with the game’s biggest shot.

One thing Cartwright has never been in his four years at Providence is afraid. He may be the difference between three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and five.

Duke’s Prep Career Comes to an End

If you missed it last night, I was in the building for David Duke’s final high school game on Saturday. It was a thrilling matchup between Duke’s Cushing team and a St. Andrew’s bunch with Villanova (Cole Swider) and Syracuse (Brycen Goodine) commits.

One of the real pleasures of the past three months has been tracking Duke and AJ Reeves on the New England prep circuit. Friar fans have hesitated to place any expectations on incoming freshmen, but I’m not afraid to shy away from it — Duke will play significant minutes as a freshman. I’ve said in this space before that I could see him in a role similar to Kris Dunn’s freshman year in which Dunn played some point guard, but served as a super utility player — one capable of grabbing eight rebounds one night, coming up with four steals the next, or dishing out six or seven assists on another.

On defensive ability alone, Duke has to see the court. He’s 6’5, an athletic freak, and more than willing to mix it up defensively.

Duke, Reeves, and Swider are top 50 prospects headed to the Big East, but let’s not forget about Creighton commit Marcus Zegarowski. The Tilton product is ranked #100 per ESPN. He’ll play in the NEPSAC Class AA title game tomorrow afternoon after scoring an amazing 57 points in Saturday’s semifinal win over South Kent.

The Big East is recruiting at a very high level.


  1. Vance Morgan

    March 4, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I think the “squarely on the bubble” thing is being overused with PC right now. Only once has a 10-8 BE regular season team not made the NCAAs, and that team (St. John’s 2014) did not have the big wins the Friars have. That said, I agree that this is a good BE tournament draw for the Friars. We’ve beaten everyone on our half of the draw, a couple of them twice, and have shown we can play with Xavier away from home. Go Friars!

  2. Anonymous

    March 4, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Agree with Vance. Friars are in, just a question of seeding.

  3. collins

    March 4, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Not exactly sure why projections have Butler ahead of us. However, I would take an 11 seed over an 8/9 seed because a #1 see awaits in the second round, and the NCAA would not put a Big East 8/9 vs Xavier/Nova in the second round.

    With all of our recent tourney disappointment, I think we are due for a Sweet 16 run. But our seniors (mostly Lindsey and Bullock) can’t disappear like they have done many times this season.

  4. Derec Lamendola

    March 4, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Providence College Men’s Basketball Providence College Men’s Basketball Providence College Men’s Basketball Has To Win This Week And I Can’t NOT Belfe Providence College Men’s Basketball iS Playing AT 2:30 On Thursday Afternoon I Can’t NOT Belfe And Lsing IF Providence College Men’s Basketball Jalien Lindsey Has To GO All Away The BIg East Confidence Tournament And You Have To Be Smart In The BIg East I Talk To Crighton Greg McDermit Last Night We All Good And Providence College Men’s Basketball Has To Be Redey For Perrtkiss Today Tommerrow Tuesday Wednesday Be Repaer For This Thursday Derec Lamendola Might Come UP To New York Mabie Becuase IS POST To Snow This Wednesday We Have To Find OUT The Waetler Man Tonight Tommerrow Night Tuesday Night And Im Going Miss Jalien Lindsey When IS Derec Lamendola Going See Jalien Lindsey

  5. Irish Spectre

    March 4, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I’m not convinced the Friars are in the Dance if they lose Thurs. Even if they are, the difference between a W and an L is probably at least 3, maybe 4 seed positions. …would love to see all three starting seniors show up for this game; if they all show for the whole tourney, they’ll be playing Sat. night.

  6. Drew

    March 5, 2018 at 2:10 am

    We need a win against a good team at MSG for some momentum. So happy we did not wind up third on the BE and playing MQ. I think we are in barring major conference tournament bid steals. Our own BE could be a bid stealer with the level of play among SJU, GT and DP. I think we make it regardless but a win takes yet another trip to Dayton out of the question.

  7. Pingback: Friar Starting Five: Wednesday Edition - Friar Basketball

  8. rgavilan

    March 10, 2018 at 3:01 am

    thanks for these videos, greetings from Kevin Farrahar

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