This Thoughts from the Road: Home Command Center Edition is brought to you by texts from G and is fueled by lots and lots of iced coffee.
- I’m not going to delve too deeply into stats or recount specific scenarios of the game at Xavier in this edition of Thoughts from the Road. This game was a microcosm of Providence’s Big East season. They’ve gotten off to slow starts in almost every game in league play, they’ve clawed their way back into almost every game in league play — sometimes to success and sometimes to failure — and they have been outhustled far too often.
- Xavier is good. They are one of the best teams in the country. They have excellent depth at basically every position and they have upperclassmen like Myles Davis who have been battle tested in the Big East for 3 seasons now. What has been the common narrative about what Providence needs to do in order to win games? Get contributions from players not named Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Well, the Friars did that last night. Rodney Bullock went for a double-double and Ryan Fazekas made a pair of triples. So, that means Providence wins, right? On other nights that Providence gets 23 points from Dunn, 17 points from Bentil, gets solid contributions from Bullock and Fazekas, sinks 12 3-pointers and scores 74 points they do win. One of the differences in this game is that Xavier is better than Providence. The Friars may have two of the best players in the league on their team, but Xavier’s bench players are better than the rest of Providence’s rotation.
- Dunn didn’t play poorly overall. His line reads like a pretty good game — 23 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists — until you get all the way over to the turnover line: 7. That’s half of Providence’s 15 giveaways on the night. That cannot happen again if Providence intends on winning enough games to slide comfortably — likely backwards — into the field of 68 in a few weeks.
- Bentil may have scored 17 points, but I thought this was one of the worst games he’s played all season. If he isn’t healthy, Ed Cooley better hope he can get healthy in the week before the Friars’ next game. Bentil was lost on the defensive end and 3 of his 5 fouls on the night were sheer laziness. Again, if he’s reaching in because he’s hurt and can’t move his feet then I sort of get it, but that isn’t a recipe for success for Providence. They are already undersized at the 4 and 5 positions and if your center can’t jump well enough to compete on the glass and can’t slide his feet to stay in front of drivers, it means your frontline is even weaker than it looks on paper.
- Fazekas being 2/4 from beyond the arc is a good sign. Since he returned from mono for the first Marquette game on January 5th, this is only the 3rd time he’s made more than one 3-pointer in a game. He hasn’t been running hot of late, but his misses are getting better and I take that as a good sign that he’s on the verge of getting back into his pre-mono form when he shot 47% from beyond the arc in the first 9 games of the season.
- Bullock didn’t exactly light things up like he did in the first half against Georgetown last Saturday, but he was solid and looked fairly confident still, despite having a fairly quiet second half of that game against the Hoyas.
- That brings me to one of the more important points of this entire article. Let me ask you a question. When was the last time Providence played a complete game for two halves? I certainly can’t think of any game in Big East play where they have come out ready to roll and kept it going in the second half. The fact that they have relied so heavily on digging themselves out of early holes was eventually going to catch up with them and it’s manifested itself during this latest stretch of losses mixed in with wins over Georgetown. If this team could harness even a fraction of their play in the first half against Georgetown last Saturday and play consistently well for an entire game, they can beat anyone. But, as they’ve shown lately, if they don’t do that and dig themselves into a hole they can’t get out of or play so lifeless that they are losing every 50/50 ball, they can lose to anyone.
You can watch the full game below, courtesy of FriarTV:
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