Friar Basketball

Offensive Droughts Killing the Friars

Makia vs Nova

Over 12,000 Friar faithful were ready to explode as Providence hosted defending national champion Villanova on Saturday. With an edgy fanbase, the Dunk can be a brutally tough place to play once the Friars get rolling it home, yet through the first two Big East games of the season Providence’s offense has kept the crowd out of it early — and breathed confidence into the visitors.

The Friars opened conference play with a 79-68 loss to Creighton, a game in which PC didn’t make a field goal until the 15:49 mark of the first half.

It took nearly four minutes for Providence to get on the board against Villanova on Saturday. By that point Villanova’s Phil Booth had already connected on three 3-pointers. Ten minutes into the game the Friars had scored just six points and dug themselves a 14 point hole. Providence trailed by 18 at the break and the shooting numbers told the story.

Providence went 8-27 from the field, 1-11 from 3, and missed 10 of the 18 free throws they attempted. Conversely, Villanova shot 57% from the field, 46% from 3, and 87% at the line.

Ed Cooley sounded just as concerned with his team’s mindset than its efficiency coming out of the halftime break, “I wanted to play the toughest dudes in that locker room. I don’t give a damn what position you play. If you can’t be tough — that’s our culture. If you can’t be prideful, and you’re just gonna be out there being soft you’re never going to play at Providence College. I don’t give a damn who you are. That’s that message.”

The message seemed to hit home for the five-some that took to the floor out of intermission. That group included Makai Ashton-Langford, Drew Edwards, Alpha Diallo, Isaiah Jackson, and Kalif Young.

The lineup injected immediate life into the Dunk after Jackson made a pair of free throws and Ashton-Langford buried a 3-pointer in the opening minute. That spurt cut the lead to 13.

Providence grabbed four offensive rebounds on the possession that led to Ashton-Langford’s 3 ball (three by Kalif Young), yet for all of the energy they brought, the offense continued to sputter. PC started 1-12 in the second half and found itself trailing by 19 again a few minutes later. The Friars went nearly six more minutes without a point after Ashton-Langford’s deep one.

The droughts are killing PC. Providence was ahead of Creighton, 58-55 at the 10 minute mark, but made just one field goal over the next six minutes of that one. Creighton took an 11 point lead during that dry spell.

Villanova led by 20 with eight minutes to play, but went over seven minutes without a made basket to open the door for the Friars. Providence twice cut the edge to four points in the final two minutes (thanks in large part to Makai Ashton-Langford’s 20 point night in which he shot 4-4 from 3), but it wasn’t enough.

Ashton-Langford: Great Game, Bad Possession

Ashton-Langford has gone from logging a DNP-CD as recently as Dec. 7 against UMass to the best Friar on the floor against Villanova. The sophomore point guard’s 20 points came on 6-9 shooting from the field, 4-4 from deep, and 4-6 from the foul line.

He’s also defending well on the perimeter. Against Villanova he drew a charge in the final three minutes after blocking a 3-pointer earlier in the half. This came against he drew a pair of charges and blocked a three versus Creighton.

Beyond the numbers, he was simply more assertive — both in his play and vocally with his teammates.

In under a month, Ashton-Langford has gone from a non-factor to what we saw on Saturday — a testament to his ability to persevere through difficulty and his readiness when called upon after AJ Reeves injured his foot.

Still, his terrific afternoon will be marred not only by the loss to Villanova, but the closing seconds. You’ve seen it by now. Providence trailed by four with 25 seconds to go and Ashton-Langford had the ball in his hands. He couldn’t find a lane to the basket and made his way back to the top of the key before Cooley called a timeout after Ashton-Langford dribbled the ball for nearly 20 seconds.

Cooley said the possession was his fault, explaining that he should have called a timeout earlier.

It’s hard to disagree with Cooley here. The Friar head coach took the blame at the end of the UMass loss when PC didn’t get a great shot off in the final possession of a one point game. Cooley said at that time that he preferred for his players to make the play as opposed to calling a timeout and letting the defense get set. Cooley also noted that he’d had the luxury of experienced point guards in years past.

Regardless, Ashton-Langford carried the offense for much of the afternoon. Outside of his 4-4 shooting from deep, PC made just 2-23 from long range.

He did not make a three in PC’s first 10 games, starting 0-7, but he’s connected on 10-13 since Reeves’ injury.

Tip-ins

Kalif Young seemed to get the message at halftime. He swatted Booth early in the second half and had more than a few choice words for him, leading Booth to inquire about a taunting call from the officials. A few minutes later Young blocked a Collin Gillespie shot and began barking at him as well…

Villanova made four 3-pointers in the game’s first four minutes, but finished the game just 7-22 overall…

Another day, another good showing for New England natives at the Dunk. Villanova sophomore Jermaine Samuels connected on a corner three in the first half and had a loud and-1 dunk in the second. Freshman Cole Swider, a one-time PC recruit, scored 10 points in 11 minutes while making all four of his shots from the field. Interestingly, Swider was the only Wildcat with a negative plus minus rating (-7), which few would have guessed watching this game live. Swider is a Portsmouth, RI native, while Samuels hails from Franklin, MA. Swider should be one of the league’s best shooters for years to come…

Cooley inserted Edwards into the lineup for his toughness and freshman Kris Monroe for his outside shooting. Edwards scrapped, like always, keeping plays alive on the offensive glass. He had a few good looks early in the second half, but could not finish. Similarly, Monroe (1-4 shooting) found himself open from 3 a few times and connected on one. It wasn’t an easy spot for a pair of players who haven’t seen consistent minutes this season…

Two key challenges for Cooley this season will be inexperience at point guard and few alternatives in regards to handing someone the ball and asking him to make a play. Booth, a fifth year senior, snapped a 16-0 Friar run with a little over a minute left in the game with a layup and a foul. So much of Providence’s 2018 Big East Tournament success was due to Kyron Cartwright’s ability to make plays late…

Sat next to an Eastern Conference scout yesterday who was making his first trip to the Dunk. He commented on the fanbase and how they were ready to jump on any glimmer of a comeback…

While Providence shot at a good clip from 3-point range in non-conference play, those numbers can often be misleading. Playing against lower competition helps to inflate shooting percentages a bit, and the level of scouting is ramped up in conference play (knowing not only individual players, but historical tendencies of the league’s coaches). Still, Providence had a number of good looks in this game — looks that are often easier when playing with the lead. PC never led on Saturday…

Reeves’ absence has been glaring since the start of conference play.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

5 Comments

  1. Derec Lamendola

    January 7, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Providence Colllege Men’s Baaketball Ed Cooley Has TO Get Redey For Nest Saturday On The Road I Lsing To Ed Cooley Coachis Show And Becuaee IS Like Pass MY Beed Time And We Need To Do IT Like Last Year And I Don’t See Derec Lamendola On The Tuniel Tonight On Ed Cooley Coachis Show Becuaee IS Like Something Diffent And We Need To Do Something And Get Makai Ashton Langford Working HARD And Ennething On AJ Reeveris Coming Back On UPDATE And Dus Every One Know When He Coming Back And When IS Emmitt Holt Coming Back And Becuaee We Need Emmitt Holt Come Back With The Friars And When IS Emmitt Holt Coming Back And We Need Him And He NOT Plying What’s IS Going On With Emmitt Holt I Talk To Him Yesterday And I DINDT Get A Annvaser To Emmitt Holt When He IS Coming Back Dus Every One Know Derec Lamemdola Shrd Be On The Coschis Show

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  2. Wally Musto

    January 7, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Too bad we have to rely on freshman for scoring but we do. David Duke will be a great player for Providence there is no doubt but right now play slows when he has the ball. He has not yet learned to slash and most of all finish plays. Also, on Saturday within the last 2 minutes Villanova dared him to shoot, specifically at the top of the key where he was wide open. Rather he was giving up the ball wasting valuable time. Nichols has been missing the last 2 games and Watson has got to develop some consistent moves under the basket instead his turnaround and throw it up and hope it goes in. Huge challenge for coach Cooley and I know he will figure it out. My wish is that Holt gets black to what he was, Watson gets aggressive, Nichols has an epiphany, Duke gets some confidence and Reeves returns tomorrow!!! Go FRIARS baby!!!!!

  3. Derec Lamendola

    January 8, 2019 at 4:46 am

    That’s Right And We Have To Do Something And AJ Reeves Has TO Come Back Tommerrrrow And We Heed AJ Reeveris Coms Back Tommerrow And He IS Are Ruke And We Need Him And Who Care About Last Saturday Villanova Game And Lets Move On The Next And Bscusee Wany Can You Call UP Coach Cooley So We Can Do This Year And Becuaee So We Can Get To WORK Becuaee And Makai Ashton Langfrod Has TO Play ALOT This Year And And I Won’t Makai Ashton Langford TO Stay Next Year And The Year After That And Bscusee Makai Ashton Langfrod Has To Do Something And Providence. College Men’s Baskstball Providence College Men’s Baaketball Friar Baaketball Has To Get Redey Tuesday Wedensday Thursday Perasking And That’s We Need And We Are OFF TO Washington DC What Time The Team Going TO Washington DC On Friday And That’s Insckeky Right And Becuaee We Need Emmmitt Holt And We Need Are Team Back And Waly Mutso When IS Emmitt Holt Coming Back Do We Know When Emmitt Holt IS Coming Back And Bscusee We Need Him For The BIG East And Makai Ashton Langfrod

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  4. Walluy Musto

    January 8, 2019 at 11:41 am

    I’m with you Derec and love your passion!!! Hope it all comes together for the Friars. Coach Cooley’s record shows that his Friars get better as the season progresses. The Coach is correct when he asks his players to toughen up, be aggressive and show desire. That’s exactly what Emmitt Holt brings and this teams need that fire!!!!! I really feel for him. Unfortunately his illness took a tole on his body and I can imagine what he’s going through on the sidelines! I just don’t see anyone else on this team that possess those qualities: somethings you just can’t teach!!! GO FRIARS!!!!

  5. Derec Lamendola

    January 8, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    That’s Right And YOu GOT That Right And We GOT Get Makai Ashton Langford Do Something And Figer IT OUT See
    What We Can Do And I Haven’t Seen Makai Ashton Langford His Family All Seoasn And Bscusee I Won’t Providence College Men’s Baaketball Providence College Men’s Baaketball Makai Ashton Langfrod TO Play ALOT Thos Year,And

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