This Thoughts from the Road is the first Couch Edition of the season. While nothing replaces being at a game in person, watching on TV definitely gives a different perspective, some good and some bad (looking at you, Seth Davis).
- In my preview of this game I wrote about how Providence needed to get off to a fast start on the road. That didn’t exactly happen. Neither team showed fluid offense early and there were quite a few whistles, including two early fouls on Emmitt Holt.
- Ball movement continues to be a positive for this team, which is a different look than last year when Kris Dunn dominated the basketball on offense. On the downside, Providence doesn’t have anyone like Dunn who can make something happen late in the shot clock. Kyron Cartwright has been very steady running the team and currently leads the nation in assists/game through 6 days of game action at 10 dishes per contest, but Cartwright doesn’t have the same ability to breakdown a defender when the ball movement and player movement hasn’t produced any clean looks by the time the shot clock has reached 6 or 7 seconds remaining. Providence will need to figure out if they have a player that can make plays with the ball late in the clock, or Ed Cooley will have to come up with some sort of short list of “quick hitter” plays that can generate decent looks late in the shot clock. My nominee for late shot clock playmaker? Alpha Diallo. The only problem there is he played just 5 minutes last night and 11 against Vermont on Monday. His minutes and role will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses and Cooley figures out his team and each player’s best role.
- 6’5 JaQuan Lyle got off to a good start while being guarded by 5’11 Cartwright. That begs the question, why did Cooley think it was good to have Cartwright guard Lyle at all? Lyle hadn’t played particularly well in Ohio State’s first two games and the Buckeyes have other weapons on offense that need attention, but the switch to Jalen Lindsey guarding Lyle seemed like something that should have been done before the second half.
- Rodney Bullock didn’t get his first bucket of the game until hitting a triple with 9:23 left in the first half. Finishing with 27 points from that point forward shows how explosive Bullock can be. As was the case with last year’s Providence team, the Friars need a second and likely also a third scorer to go along with their go-to scorer. Bullock was routinely that second or third option last season and with him moving up, Providence needs to find out who will slide into those secondary and tertiary scoring roles.
- To that point, Providence doesn’t have the firepower on offense to play from behind. The winning formula for this Providence team will be to get out to early leads and let their defense win them games. Interior defense is a real concern in both games so far this season.
- Jalen Lindsey has been excellent in Providence’s first two games. I praised his efforts in the Vermont game that didn’t show up in the box score and he did similar things for the Friars in this Ohio State game. He looks like a much more confident player this season and Providence will need that to continue. He has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the Big East this season and a defensive stopper can be a weapon for a coach.
- Cartwright has been unbelievable at taking care of the basketball. That’s always been a strength of his at Providence but he’s playing with the ball in his hands quite a bit more this season after sharing it with Dunn the last two seasons. To start the season, Cartwright has racked up 20 assists and turned it over just 2 times. He led the Big East in assist to turnover ratio last season and he seems to be on pace to do it again. He hasn’t scored the ball much but it’s hard to find too many flaws in Cartwright’s first two games this season.
- Ryan Fazekas was more involved early last night and got some good looks. While he only saw 2 of his 5 attempts from downtown go through the net, he had a couple go halfway down. He’s close to having a breakout shooting game, in my opinion.
- The freshmen didn’t get a ton of minutes overall with Kalif Young leading the way with 13 minutes largely due to Holt’s early foul trouble. Young has also been the most productive newcomer through 2 games, but I’m high on Diallo’s game and Maliek White has a certain moxie that will serve him well as he continues to develop at Providence.
- Cooley tightening his rotation against a Big Ten team in the second half could just be a preview of how things go once play begins against Big East foes in late December. As Brendan McGair and I have discussed on a few Friartown Fan Voice podcast episodes, Cooley figuring out roles and rotations will be one of the things to watch this season and he might have tipped his hand a bit last night against a high major opponent on the road.
- I really have enjoyed this year’s Gavitt Tipoff Games. They’ve all been entertaining and the homage that has been paid to Dave Gavitt is obviously well deserved and great to see. Good job by both the Big East and Big Ten to make this early season event happen.
- Providence next plays on Saturday against Grambling. That game is the first of their two campus site games from the Emerald Coast Classic. It will also be their third game in 5 days after having their season delayed a few days by Rhode Island Comic Con. Grambling has been a basement dweller in all of college basketball for many, many years so it should give the Friars a game to play deep into their bench.
Still haven’t seen the game or want to re-watch it? Here is a replay courtesy of FriarTV:
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