One Bucket Short at BC

Providence traveled to BC for their first true road game and lost 88-86 after Vincent Council's last second heave rimmed out. Though the loss felt like a heartbreaker, the Friars had to know they just didn't play well enough to earn the win.

Providence did not play very well in their first true road test of the season, a testament to which was the 11 point hole they dug themselves in the first half. Providence gave up a barrage of first half 3's to the Eagles, and trailed 42-31 at the half. Despite that, they slowly clawed their way back in the second half and got within a possession of tying the game at the four minute mark. BC responded with yet another push that increased the lead to eight again, but the Friars pulled to within two again, only to come up short as Vincent Council's desperation three point shot bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.

Providence definitely showed no quit and fought hard for 40 minutes, but did they play smart? Not so much. While the Friars resiliency has to be commended in their first road game, the need to be resilient usually is the product of some poor play first. That was the case at Conte Forum, where Providence experienced a poor shooting game from three of their starters, and a defense that allowed a ‘last season like' 51% shooting to Boston College.

Marshon Brooks led Providence with 28 points, but it was accomplished on 10-23 shooting. Vincent Council scored 13 and dished out 9 assists, but he shot 4-17 from the field. Gerard Coleman continued to force the action again, and his first game in hometown Boston was a disappointment as he was 1-8 from the field. Providence attempted 33 field goals from the three point line, far too many for a team that is less than proficient from behind the arc. Considering the last time Providence shot over 30 threes was in their only other loss to LaSalle, it is clear that the bombs away approach from the three point line is not the winning formula for this team.

Boston College, on the other hand, is very efficient from the three point line, and shot 12-24 from behind the arc. Boston College also had five players registering three or more assists. That type of ball sharing is impressive and combined with great shooting it was clear that Coach Steve Donahue felt his team had one of their best games of the year. It's also a sign that if you are patient against this Providence defense right now, the young Friars will eventually miss an assignment and give you an open look. That was the case last night.

Reggie Jackson really had an outstanding game, going 9-12 from the field and 4-4 from deep range. The Eagles run a very methodical offense, and their good shooting makes the opposition pay dearly for leaving men open. Providence simply did a poor job pressing out on the Eagle shooters, as well as accounting for open perimeter shooters on second chance opportunities.

It also took the Friars more than a half to begin properly attacking the Boston College zone defense. It was bad enough that the Friars were missing bunnies in the lane as well as some open shots, but the fact that they only shot six free throws in the first half was more telling. Providence was not passing through the zone as was necessary, nor were they effectively drawing contact for fouls on their drives to the basket. The failure to do that and keep which kept the thin Eagle front court out of foul trouble was a critical factor in their comeback falling short in the second half.

Three Friar starters got themselves into foul trouble, and Bilal Dixon fouled out of the game while Vincent Council played far too long with 4 himself. It was an indication that Providence was out of position defensively on many occasions, and that is something that the Friars had been much better at for most the non-conference schedule.

Most people were concerned about the Friars playing six games in two weeks, and at Boston College, it appears the tight schedule has caught up to them. While the effort and energy seemed to be there for the young Friar squad, what wasn't there was the execution. Young teams show their inexperience, and that was seen all over this game.

Providence simply has not had enough practice time to develop more than a simple pick and roll or a four out dribble drive offense than relies heavily on a good game from point guard Vincent Council. Had Providence been more prepared for the Boston College zone with more practice time, they might not have shot that much better, but they would have certainly taken better shots and given themselves a better shot to win with far fewer three point attempts. The fact that the Friars had 22 offensive rebounds and took thirteen more shots than BC demonstrates how inefficient their offense sets really were. Moreover, the team needs to get back into the gym and work on weak side defense, transition defense, and improve their 3 point defense which has proved leaky the last few games.

Providence has miles of room to improve this year, and yet they only lost to BC by a basket. There is every reason to believe that they can beat good teams this year. The key will be doing the right things to put them in a position to win. That takes getting back into the gym and becoming a much more polished team on both ends of the floor. The Friars are getting good production from the bench (27pts vs BC), showing good effort on the court, and developing better team chemistry than last season, but the starters must execute better as well as become more efficient with their play.

If they don't improve during the Christmas break, the Big East schedule will show the Friars being exposed as a team that flashes too many freelancing drives by Marshon Brooks, ill advised shots by Vincent Council, and undisciplined play from Gerard Coleman. They can be better than that.

After the Alabama on Saturday, the Friars finally get a break from games and only have one contest between Dec. 11th and Dec. 28th. They must use the time outside of exams to correct the flaws that could really hold them back from major progress this season.

Losing by just a bucket is a painful pill for the Friars to swallow, but if they learn the hard lessons of the Boston College loss, then the payoff will be that they are eventually ten buckets smarter down the road.

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