Friar Basketball

Greg Gantt Showing Signs for the Friars

Greg Gantt II Friars.com Providence College Athletics

Perhaps the most encouraging thing to come out of Providence’s 63-58 win over St. John’s on Wednesday night was the strong effort from freshman Greg Gantt.

With AJ Reeves and Emmitt Holt sidelined, Gantt got the start and made an impact — making 3-6 shots from the field, grabbing six rebounds, and blocking a pair of shots in 29 minutes. In a game featuring two teams that wanted to play an aggressive, defense-first brand of basketball, Gantt not only did not look overwhelmed with the physical play, but was among those that thrived in it.

This the time of year in which some of the best freshman have begun to turn it on under Ed Cooley. Alpha Diallo consistently played fewer than 20 minutes a game until January of his freshman season. From Jan. 4 on of his freshman year, Diallo played 20+ minutes in 17 of Providence’s final 18 games. By the end of the year he was such a staple that he played 32 minutes against USC in the NCAA tournament. In his final 13 games, Diallo’s minutes were as follows: 25, 35, 25, 30, 29, 36, 25, 27, 29, 26, 32, 25, and 32.

Diallo rewarded Cooley with performances like his 17 point night at St. John’s, 18/8/4 at home versus the Johnnies, and 17 points against #4 Villanova. Diallo was outstanding in the Villanova game, in particular, going against Josh Hart.

Ben Bentil came on slightly later on a deep Friar team during his freshman year. That group included veterans Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris, and Carson Desrosiers, as well as a trio of freshman logging regular minutes in Bentil, Jalen Lindsey, and Kyron Cartwright. The 2014-15 Friars earned a six seed in the NCAA tournament, and Bentil came on strong with five double doubles from Feb. 1st through the end of the season. He had only scored in double figures once prior to Jan. 29 of that year.

Gantt has a chance to follow a similar path for a number of reasons. For one, he has excelled at scoring in the paint. This year’s Friars are shooting 49.8% on shots near the rim. Gantt is 11-14 on those attempts, good for 78.6%. He has also shot decently from beyond the 3-point arc, making 4-5 from the top of the key and 1-3 from the corners.

Beyond the numbers, Gantt provides Cooley with a lively, athletic body. He didn’t get credit in the box score last night, but on one possession Providence had three attempts — the third was made possible by Gantt keeping a rebound alive by deflecting it to Diallo in traffic.

He finished two pretty drives against St. John’s as well, with a left handed finish while being fouled and a drive from the top of the key. For a freshman who missed the entire offseason due to thumb surgery, and additional time during the year with an achilles injury, then later due to the passing of his mother, Gantt has played with poise for the most part this year. He’s shown to be a sneaky good passer, a willing rebounder, and his shooting percentages are good, albeit in limited minutes and attempts (52.8% from the field, 41.7% from 3).

If Gantt is to start playing bigger minutes he’ll do so against the gauntlet. The Friars are facing their most difficult five game stretch of the season, beginning with a trip this weekend to Creighton, followed by a road game against red hot Seton Hall, #14 Villanova at home, #5 Butler on the road, and then back home to take on Creighton again.

Gantt certainly looked ready to take on a bigger role on Wednesday night. We’ll see if he follows a similar path to that of Diallo and Bentil.

4 Comments

  1. Wally

    January 17, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Gantt is the future for sure. Love his physical toughness, not afraid to mix it up. He attacks the basket, always around the ball and never forces on offense.Team player. Now to get Watson to do something different on offense would be nice: he backs into the basket and either throws up a hook shot or tries a Kevin Mchale move. Very predictable! GOFRIARS

  2. Anonymous

    January 17, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    What is going on with Jimmy Nichols ? How come he has played in the last 10 games ?

  3. Wally

    January 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Nichols is a red shirt. Had some injuries

  4. Joe LaPorte

    January 18, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    What’s up with Kris Munroe?