Friars Fall Versus Blue Demons

Losing to Depaul was about the last thing the Friars and coach Keno Davis needed. The devastating 79-76 home court defeat to the Blue Demons broke a 25 game Big East winless streak for Depaul and was a major setback for this Friar team so late in the season.

Things aren't so good in Friartown these days. By the middle of February, you want to see your basketball team picking up steam and playing close to their best basketball of the season. That is not the case right now with the Friars. Losing to last place DePaul who was previously winless in Big East play demonstrates that in capital letters.

This game was generally tight throughout with eight lead changes. Statistically speaking, the two teams were close in most categories, but a slight edge went to Depaul almost across the board. The Blue Demons were desperate for a win, and showed it with their effort all night. Then again, shouldn't the Friars have felt the same urgency?

Depaul outworked the Friars from the opening tip, made their free throws (75%), and shared the ball often enough to get good shots up they could. While not a great shooting team, the Blue Demon backcourt didn't have much trouble scoring against Providence as Jeremiah Kelly and Brandon Young combined for 40 points. (Kelly : Career high 23 after averaging 6.6 ppg) Depaul also hit the glass hard and had 17 second chance points to Providence's 7. The Blue Demons had 12 steals on 19 Friar turnovers. That again spoke to the effort Depaul displayed where they outplayed the home team. That reflects very poorly on Providence.

Marshon Brooks did not start the game for the first time all year. The reason was unknown, but it likely speaks to some missed practice time for a violation of team rules. Brooks scored 28 points anyway being talented player he is, but he struggled in the first half his team appeared very disjointed as they were down 10 at halftime.

Gerard Coleman came off the bench last night after not practicing with his team for nearly two weeks and being suspended for the UConn game. The absence from team practice showed as Coleman struggled with only six points and three turnovers including a critical one on a pass during the Friars' last possession. Good play on the court typically translates over from good play in practice. The lack of full team practices may be part of what is ailing the Friars right now.

That really gets to the heart of the matter. Providence is at or near the bottom of the Big East in both offensive and defensive field goal percentage. As such, the only times they are going to win Big East games when they give tremendous effort and work cohesively together as a team. Off court distractions are really hampering that right now. The teamwork was lacking effort and cohesion last night, and as Marshon Brooks' star continues to shine brighter, there appears to be more one on one playmaking on the court and a real lack of ball movement on offense.

While Vincent Council's shooting bounced back against Depaul with 12 points including a big three point shot late, he also committed 5 turnovers and had a paltry 2 assists for the game. Duke Mondy has his second high quality game in the last three, scoring 17 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and registering four steals. Mondy was a real bright spot for the Friars.

Depaul got a great performance as usual from leading Rookie of the Year Candidate Cleveland Melvin with 20 points, but that was not what got the Blue Demons the win. After solid perimeter defense from the Friars earlier in the season in wins over Villanova and Louisville, the Providence guards proceeded give up 47 points to UConn's two highest scoring guards this past Sunday. Against Depaul, they proceeded to get lit up for 40 points. That simply won't get it done in the Big East and is fairly damning, particularly at home against the last place team in the conference.

Keno Davis announced in his press conference that he had to do a better job of coaching and preparing his players. There appears to be a lot of work to do on that front right now, and recent events suggest there is as much to fix off the court as on it. Time is running short for this team to salvage some season ending goals for a team that was promised to improve as the year went on.

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