Friar Basketball

URI Takeaways

With eight new players coming in this season and 2.5 returning contributors I made a decision in the preseason: the success of this season won’t be based on the won/loss record, but in how many building blocks are in place for 2010-11.  Four would have been a home run, three very pleasing, two would leave Providence another year away from realistic tournament hopes, and a single building block would be disastrous.

Flaws and all, Greedy Peterson was the first to emerge.  He’s still a ways away from being trusted with the ball anywhere outside of the paint and rotates slowly on defense, but his development this year has been staggering (show me someone who predicted a couple of 20-10 games at this point in the season and I’ll show you a liar).  Providence left the Ryan Center with a loss today, but gained something much more important: the second building block.

I first saw Vincent Council in a national tournament in Springfield starring for the Patterson School (NC) last January.  After catching him twice more in February three characteristics stood out: Council defended, got into the paint at will, and he played with a combination of leadership and toughness that PC has been lacking at point guard for over a decade.  He knew when his teammates needed a push and when to look for his own opportunities.  Here is what I wrote about him in February:

As for Council, he was rock solid. He doesn’t have blow by ability, but he gets to where he needs to be and never tries to do too much. He makes the right passes in almost any situation (being pressed, on the break, in the paint) and is a serviceable outside shooter. He goes right or left with equal ease. His leadership ability and the aforementioned instincts are constantly on display. Instincts like his are sorely lacking with our guards today. Give him Marshon Brooks’ size and athletic ability and he’s an out of this world player. He’s just so steady and a great piece to be adding for the next four years.

For a 10 minute span in the 2nd half the walls were collapsing on PC and there was one kid who determined that Providence wasn’t going out without a fight.  Council got into the lane for layups, stepped back from 15 feet, threw a no look pass (okay, that was the 1st half, but a great look), and pushed the tempo at every turn.

The guy sitting next to me commented to his friend, “this kid only knows one speed.”  Not true, but he knew that the only way to keep Providence in this game was to attack and keep on attacking.  It’s that leadership and basketball IQ that this team has been lacking in recent years.

Tellingly, when the ball was taken out of his hands and given to upperclassmen Providence often found themselves taking poor shots as the shot clock expired or turning it over on isolation attempts.  There were few occasions in the 2nd half in which Council had the ball in his hands and good things didn’t happen.

Was it frustrating to watch Providence get blitzed on the boards by URI or turn it over at the worst possible time late?  Sure, but 2009-10 is about completing the transition from Tim Welsh’s core to Keno ball.  If Gerard Coleman is anything he’s cracked up to be (and from what I saw a year ago, he is) this is going to be the best PC backcourt in over a decade. will take a look at Coleman a few times this season and provide in person updates on him whenever possible.

URI Notes:

  • Peterson now has 5 double doubles in 8 games and narrowly missed 6 for 8 with an 18&9 performance versus Northeastern.
  • The Friars’ lack of frontcourt depth has killed them in all three losses this season.  Whenever Alabama needed a big basket late they got the ball inside, BC hammered Providence in the paint all game, and when Bilal Dixon got into foul trouble URI feasted on the offensive glass in the 2nd half.  The inability to close late has been the lead story in every PC loss, but poor interior defense could just as well be the headline.  There was no more telling sign that the loss to Rhody.  Providence won the battle inside in the first half and led by 14, got crushed inside in the 2nd and quickly lost control of a game they could have wrapped up with an early run.
  • Either Kyle Wright is going through a confidence crisis or the Hartford ProAm is a layup drill.  The safe bet is somewhere in-between.  Expectations were probably too high for this kid if you look at his history.  The worst thing to happen to him was the label of potential high scoring shooter, rather than simply “experienced stop gap.”
  • I’m dying for the arrival of Gerard Coleman and the hype machine on Joe Young is having an effect on me as well, but unless Ron Giplaye is ready to play as a freshman or James Still and/or Kadeem Batts greatly improve next year it won’t matter.  Providence will continue to be a team that scores in waves, but struggles to defend the paint and rebound.  Still has drawn comparisons to Marcus Douthit, but by December of his freshman year Douthit scored Big East rookie of the week after a 22-11 game against Brown and he was a regular contributor on a NCAA team.
  • PC takes on Brown tomorrow night at the Dunk.