Friar Basketball

Turnovers Sink Friars in Loss to URI

In a scene that mirrored Providence’s loss to Rhode Island two years ago, turnovers and a lack of execution were to blame in the PC’s return to the Ryan Center on Friday night.

Two years ago, the Friars turned the ball over 21 times. They missed over half of their free throws and made just four 3-pointers. Providence’s upperclassmen were relative no-shows in 2017, as pair of youngsters led a charge back from an 11 point halftime deficit. That team managed to get to within three points on several occasions in the second half, but could not muster the energy to overcome both the deficit and a hungry Ryan Center.

Oh, and URI had a freshman named Fatts Russell.

Fatts is all grown up now. The diminutive point guard from Philadelphia scored 14 of his game high 20 points in the first half as a freshman two years ago. On Friday, he overcame a 2-10 shooting performance in the first half by making five of six shots from the field, and all four of his 3-point attempts in the second. He egged on the Ryan Center crowd throughout — a fan base that took fewer than ten seconds to let Providence know just how they felt about them with a “(blank) PC” chant right after tip off.

For those who haven’t experienced a Providence/Rhode Island game at the Ryan Center, there is a genuine hatred of all things black and white that far exceeds anything else the Friars will see this season. I wanted to get a true sense of it, so I planted myself in Section 203 — not far from the PC bench, even closer to the student section, and a row behind a 50 something year old man in a Providence jersey who couldn’t believe his eyes when a 60 something year old URI fan found his way over to our section after the Rams took a 34-24 lead and started screaming in his face to share his thoughts on the Friars. Don’t tell that guy this isn’t a rivalry.

As was the case two years ago, Providence started well enough on Friday night. PC led 10-4 early, and the game was tied at 24 with six minutes left in the first half. This was prior to the 10-0 run that sent our friend in Section 203 into delirium. Key to that run was Cyril Langevine, the physically imposing Ram center. Russell, for all of his energy and offensive explosiveness, will grab headlines on Saturday morning, but from this vantage point it was Langevine who was the biggest difference maker in URI’s 75-61 win.

During the 10-0 run that left PC playing uphill all night, Langevine scored the final six points. He finished the first half with 13 points and 10 boards, and Langevine’s final stat line read 17 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. If not for Langevine — and 13 first half turnovers from the Friars — this would have been a completely different game heading into the break.

If you missed this one, you read that right. Providence committed 13 first half turnovers. PC’s primary ball handlers, Alpha Diallo (5), David Duke (3), and Luwane Pipkins (2) combined for ten of those. That led to a ridiculous 18 points off of turnovers for the Rams in the first half alone. URI overplayed the passing lanes and hounded Providence’s guards throughout the game. PC left the Ryan Center with 22 turnovers. That marked a season high.

Expect most of the ire to be directed at Diallo, Pipkins and Cooley as Providence now waits eight days to return to the court. Duke finished just 4-12 from the field, and turned the ball over six times (and those turnovers were absolute killers), but he competed through 32 minutes before fouling out. He hit 3-6 three pointers on a night in which PC made 5-17 as a team (and that included Emmitt Holt’s banker in the first half).

Turnover issues continue to plague Diallo, while Pipkins looks lost as he tries to find a balance between the gunner he was at UMass and the type of point guard Providence needs. The swagger that he brought to Smith Hill is gone after ten games.

The other bright spots were a six point, eight rebound first half from Kalif Young, and a second half surge out of Nate Watson that included a left handed hook and a deep baseline jumper — both shots cut URI’s lead to two with around seven minutes left.

It was Langevine who first answered down the stretch. Following timeout, he finished while being fouled at the 6:20 mark to bump the URI lead back to four at 59-55. Russell then connected on a trio of 3-pointers to ignite a 13-0 run to essentially end the game.

Aside from the turnovers, there were mind numbing decisions by Providence’s seniors. PC came out of a timeout with just under four minutes to play, trailing by 10, when Diallo put up a contested 3-pointer seven seconds into the shot clock. URI took advantage of the bad shot, finding Russell in transition for another shot from beyond the arc — his fourth and final one of the second half. Cooley instantly called for freshman Greg Gantt to replace Diallo.

At the end of the first half, Providence trailed by nine, but had the ball and a chance to take the last shot. Instead, Maliek White took a deep baseline jumper with eight seconds left that missed. URI grabbed the rebound and drew a foul on the other end. The Providence staff was hollering for the Friars to take the last shot.

At this point, it is beyond the little things that are killing the Friars. On Friday, it was decision making and taking care of the ball. Afterwards, Ed Cooley called his team’s effort “piss poor” and reflected on how he probably needs to change how he communicates with this group. Assistant coach Brian Blaney was blunt in the Friars’ post game radio show with John Rooke and Joe Hassett, telling them that URI’s seniors played with a sense of urgency, while PC’s didn’t.

Cooley spoke in the offseason about how he hoped that missing the NCAA tournament last year, after making it five years in a row, would serve as a wakeup call for his team — that tournament appearances didn’t just happen from showing up. Cooley owned his team’s shortcomings after the game, but Providence is ten games into its season and has five losses already. A lack of urgency is baffling.



  1. Thomas Walters

    December 7, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Coaches dave gavitt and John Thompson we told the teams we don’t like losing any time but it’s better for us to lose early in the season and win late in the season, Everybody on the line on the on the whistle line line!

  2. wayne pacheco

    December 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Kevin: Always enjoy your coverage and analysis. I think that it takes courage to write an objective and factual article when you are around the team on a regular basis. Thanks for doing it so well. As an ardent PC fan of 60 years or so, I am baffled by this year’s squad. I cannot ever remember a team as deep. I also have trouble recalling a more inefficient passing team when the opposition overplays on the perimeter. In this contest the Friars actually looked good early and showed flashes of the potential of a quality team. It’s funny in team sports of any kind. Talent alone is never enough to compete at the higher level. It takes execution, team chemistry, the right strategic moves made in preparation and during a game, team effort, and on the court leadership with fire and passion in my opinion. These sometimes do not come together the way a preseason resume seem to read. The Celtics of 2018 would be an example, as perhaps would the 2019 Boston Red Sox. Even if things do not lead in the direction we had hoped at the beginning of this season, I would like to see there be continued progress made so that the players learn something positive to take with them in life on and off the court. Thanks. Wayne P.

  3. JIm Jackson

    December 7, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    I saw Pipkins early on throw a brick up from maybe 25 feet out on the left wing, it hit the backboard on right side below the rim. He was never right for this team – this team was better last year.

    Aside from that they aren’t playing as a team. I said this last week, there has to be some serious off the court issues that are affecting them on the court and that won’t change till some players leave/graduate so look forward to next season as this is already in the tank.

    They’re going to lose to Florida and Texas. I saw Georgetown take Duke down to the wire. DePaul is undefeated and one of the top shooting teams in the country – same with Butler. Seton Hall has a two point loss to #13 Oregon and a 3 point loss to #11 Michigan St. In other words the rest of their schedule is brutal.

    Honestly they’ll be lucky to finish over .500

    I don’t blame Cooley. Providence is an impossible recruiting challenge (a small Dominican school in the northeast by all rights this program has over achieved year in and year out) and he’s done well over the years with what he has had to work with. He’ll do well again – I have absolutely no doubt about that.

    Huge PC basketball fan since Ernie D and Marvin when I was a freshman in high school but I’m a realist not a fanatical cheerleader.

  4. GTJ

    December 7, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Article is on point. Let’s be real, this team is a mess right now and is making the same mistakes over and over again. URI’s hyper-aggressive defense should have created all sorts of offensive opportunities for PC, but instead, the predictable attempts to pass the ball on the perimeter to flat footed players repeatedly turned into a layup drill for URI. Couple years ago Coach C said he wanted “Anacondas”. Coach, you have 3 Anacondas (Watson, Reeves and Duke). Focus your offense on those 3 talents, let them play at all three levels, encourage them have fun and this season can be saved (and along the way role players like Alpha and Kalif will do their part). Let’s go PC!

  5. rayi

    December 7, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Finally have size and depth up front but terrible guard play. I cannot believe how bad their passing is, so many unforced turnovers. Diallo and Pinkins just killing this team, so much for experienced seniors. At this point bench both of them. Thank goodness for holt, Watson and young

  6. Jez

    December 7, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Ed Cooley doesn’t coach-teach well. He got VERY LUCKY with recruits Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil (who left after 2 years). Whoever extended Cooley’s contract extension at PC should be fired and investigated for monetary paybacks from Ed Cooley. Cooley is a phoney in a tight fitting three piece suit. Oh,and why can’t he recruit white players?

  7. rayi

    December 7, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Good thing not playing brown and bryant, could set a new pc low. I am 1974pc grad, this is the most disappointing team I can remember. It’s not the record, it’s having on paper so much talent and coming out flat so many games, lapses on defense, being out hustled. Pathetic shooting. Impressive to see how fats Russell has worked on his game. Most pc players playing like took off season off.

  8. Kevin Farrahar

    December 7, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Thank you, Wayne. I appreciate that.

    It’s hard to argue with anything you’ve written here. Cooley has always been so good at turning around a rough stretch, but this is the worst stretch in his time here. We’ll see what they can make of the final 20 games.

  9. Irish Spectre

    December 7, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    Pipkins is a negative, plain and simple.

    There’s no on-court leadership or toughness.

    Diallo is probably the best Friars athlete, but is losing between his ears. They need him to play well in order to win, mostly because neither Duke nor Reeves have remotely lived up to the recruiting billing.

    Most mediocre high school teams are better from the stripe.

    Not one Friar shows up every game, or even almost every game.

    Other than the above, Mrs. Lincoln…

  10. Wally

    December 8, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Great comments. No excuse for lazy passes & 23 turnovers. That’s coaching! No leadership on the floor, Diallo absence mentally!?! Preseason we heard so much about the improvement of Nichols??? Where’s he been? Has Coach Cooley, who I love, lost this team?

    We all have an emotional attachment to the Friars and it shows in these comments. We all have a life but when the Friars play awful with no hope in sight it dose piss us off.

  11. Carleto

    December 8, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Ed you need to make some big moves to get your program back on track. Not basing this off the URI loss as we all know that’s a coin toss game that being said our team showed no fight or will to win that contest. Unfortunately some of your starting 5 need to be on the bench. Team needs to go back to the basics of fundamental basketball. Setting screens for each other, solid bounce passes, attacking the boards on each end. Watch some tape of Villanova not a fan of them but it’s all basic sound fundamentals that contribute to their success. Missing the amount of free throws at this level is not acceptable and will have the NBA scouting crew look elsewhere for talent. You have done wonderful things with this program and I am sure you will have a more success in the near future.

  12. ac

    January 9, 2020 at 1:31 am

    what do you have to say now doubters! 3-0 run in BE games so far! coming together nicely! 8 deep rotation. go friars! love this team

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