Friar Basketball

Friars Look to Tighten Up Against the Cross

Jackson Wich St.

There isn’t much more Ed Cooley could ask for from Alpha Diallo and AJ Reeves through two games.

Diallo has been a force, and Reeves a revelation. With inexperience plaguing the point guard position, Diallo delivered ten assists in the season’s first two games — and he’s added 43 points and 21 rebounds for good measure. A career sub-25% shooter from 3-point range prior to the 2018-19 campaign, Diallo has shined from long range as well, making 8-14, including 5-9 in a 27 point, 10 rebound, five assist effort in Friday’s loss to Wichita State.

Foul trouble may have been the only thing keeping Reeves from back-to-back 25+ point games to start his Friar career. After a 29 point debut against Siena in which he made ten straight shots from the field (most from long range), Reeves finished from long distance and in transition Friday night. He scored 19 points on 7-10 from the field and is shooting at an unfathomable clip — 74% from the field, 64% from 3-point range. So much for the critics who claimed he was an inefficient volume shooter in high school.

Critics who raised questions about Providence’s point guards in the preseason, however, have been justified after two games. Freshman David Duke has gotten the lion’s share of the minutes at the 1 (25 mpg). The loss to Wichita State was a step forward from a scoreless debut against Siena. Duke had 8 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds against the Shockers. He showed signs offensively by scoring on a difficult left-handed and-1 and burying a 3, but he’s yet to find his footing.

Off of the bench, Maliek White, Makai Ashton-Langford and Drew Edwards have combined to shoot 3-16 from the field. It’s unfair to dive very deep into the numbers through two games, but an encouraging sign on Tuesday against Holy Cross would be added assertiveness from the point guards group as a whole.

White has passed on a few open looks from 3, while Ashton-Langford’s best moments of the season came when he converted two drives late against Siena after not looking for his own offense otherwise.

It’s likely that defensive miscues have bothered Cooley more than early offensive struggles. Siena and Wichita State combined to shoot 48% from 3 against Providence. That’s a woeful 323rd nationally. PC needs to clean up on the glass, as they rank just under 300th nationally in keeping opponents off of the offensive glass. Containing dribble penetration has also been an issue.

Providence will get a number of good tests on the glass over the next week, starting tonight with 6’8, 240 pound Jehyve Floyd of Holy Cross. Floyd was the Defensive Player of the Year in the Patriots League a year ago, and shot nearly 69% from the field on the season. The New Jersey native made 20 consecutive shots from the field at one point last season.

Holy Cross is hoping that playing a group of freshman big minutes last year will pay dividends in 2019. They do have an experience point guard in Patrick Benzan, a former Mass Rivals and Worcester Academy product.

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