Friar Basketball

Exhibition Opener Impressions

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Notes from Providence’s 96-57 win over Bridgeport University on Friday night…

Alpha Diallo is ready to emerge into this team’s leader. The junior wing looks to have added upper body strength, and flashed an improved jump shot, swishing his first two attempts from beyond the arc.

Providence’s starting five of Diallo, David Duke, Isaiah Jackson, Jimmy Nichols, and Kalif Young took a bit to get going early, but Diallo scored off of an offensive rebound and then knocked down a pair of 3s shortly after to jumpstart a 13-2 PC run. Diallo finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.

Diallo and sophomore Nate Watson could have gotten whatever they wanted offensively tonight. Speaking of Watson…

The big man scored 15 points (6-9 from the field, 3-3 at the free throw line) and grabbed eight boards in 17 minutes. Watson looked a little bit bouncier than he did a season ago with a pair of first half dunks. He was unstoppable during a stretch in the second half. Bridgeport threw double teams at him often in the post, forcing the ball out of his hands in a way that not many teams did during his freshman season.

Ed Cooley went with Duke, Young, Maliek White, Diallo, and AJ Reeves to start the second half. That’s when Reeves asserted himself. The freshman scored seven of his 13 points early in the second half by¬†swishing a 3-pointer, beating his man off of a backcourt cut (receiving a good pass from Duke) and hitting the offensive glass.

Providence will rebound from the backcourt and wing positions. Diallo was one of the best rebounders in the Big East, regardless of size, last season. Duke projects as a well above average rebounder due to his size (6’5) and supreme athleticism, while Reeves showed a knack for hitting the glass on Friday with five boards.

Not one of PC’s four freshman were timid. Nichols has looked strong since coming to PC this summer, and while he struggled to find his offensive footing (1-5 from the field), he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on three 3-point attempts in the opening minutes of the game. His made field goal came on a nice up-and-under move. Kris Monroe finished with eight points, four rebounds, and four fouls in 13 minutes.

Providence is going to win a lot of games if they shoot 91% at the foul line, especially if they get to the line with anywhere near the frequency that they did on Friday (29-32 on the game). The Friars connected on all 19 of their second half free throws. Duke made 7-8 at the line, while fellow point guard Makai Ashton-Langford made four straight after missing his first attempt.

Conversely, PC won’t beat anyone turning the ball over 31 times.

It was great to see Holt back on the floor. He received a good ovation when he checked into the game, and an even bigger one after he buried his first 3-point attempt.

Young was particularly active in the second half, seemingly earning praise from Cooley as he returned to the bench in the second half. The Canadian big man picked up three fouls in the opening nine minutes of the game, and went to the bench with zeros across the board. He grabbed eight rebounds in a foul-less second half. Detractors will point to the competition, but Young has proven to be a solid rebounder in his first two seasons. On this night he was tracking down misses well out of his area.

Perhaps what stood out most was the depth of this group. Cooley went to his bench early with a five-some of Ashton-Langford, White, Reeves, Holt, and Watson.

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