Friars Rout Rhody Rams

In the 123rd meeting between Providence College and the University of Rhode Island, the Friars won their third straight in the series by a convincing 72-57 margin. With the win, PC enters their exam break with a 7-2 record and looking forward to getting healthy along with getting some players back.

• With the win, PC extends their lead in the hard-fought series to 69-54. PC will invade the Ryan Center next year with a LOADED team and hopes of extending that lead even further.

• Bryce Cotton's onions: Cotton was a warrior, playing 39 minutes on one leg. Ed Cooley said, "I knew Bryce would be able to play late last night, early this morning. I asked him how he felt and he said, ‘Let's go.'" Clearly, Cotton was not himself, shooting just 3-9 and 1-6 from three after a game opening three. But his presence wasn't necessary for scoring – it was necessary for settling the team down and handling the ball against URI's tough man defense and pressure. At one point, coming out of a timeout, Cotton reached down to wipe his hand on his shoe bottom and noticeably winced. As Cooley said after the game, when he's healthy "he makes those shots."

Kadeem Batts has grown up: While Batts fouled out, in part due to a double technical with Nikola Malesevic, he overwhelmed Rhody inside. Along with his signature foul line jumper, Batts fought inside and drew fouls. He led PC with 23 points, added 7 rebounds and hit 7-8 free throws. URI had no answer for him and resorted to double and triple teaming him. Danny Hurley remarked that his team had done a good job against Batts, holding him to 8-19 shooting… but we'd like to point out that the double and triple teams led to easy PC buckets. And we'll take the 23 points anytime. Throw a bouquet, Danny.

• Henton's hustle: LaDontae Henton stepped up in a major way, scoring 21 points and grabbing 17 boards, on 9-16 shooting. Along with several ‘man' rebounds, Henton's slashing to the basket proved unstoppable to URI's defenders. While LaDontae has had a few average games early in this campaign, he seems to be rounding into form and adjusting to new roles at an opportune time. This was an All-Big East Buckets that we saw against URI.

• Fortuitous Fortune: With Providence pulling ahead to a 52-43 lead in the second half and Rhody in the middle of a sloppy streak, PC needed a knockout blow. That was delivered by Josh Fortune when he drained a three with just over six minutes left to put the Friars by double-digits. Over the final six minutes, the lead stayed in double digits and PC was never threatened. Fortune played 40 minutes once again, scored 17 points and helped Cotton out with the ball handling chores. The freshman had 5 steals and plays tough defense, his length causing problems in the passing lanes. When he's able to cut down on his minutes, he will be a very good one.

• Fouls: When Brice Kofane fouled out with 3:11 to go, it marked the first time in nine games that any Friar had fouled out. Which is a good thing, considering PC's lack of first semester depth. Kadeem Batts followed Kofane to the bench on fouls with :44 left, leaving PC with just five players. Fortunately, the Friars were up by 12 points at that point and no other Friars were in foul trouble.

• Moves: Ed Cooley was not happy with PC's sloppy first half, which saw PC commit 13 turnovers and shoot just 36%, accounting for a slim 27-26 halftime lead. One adjustment that Cooley made was to abandon the zone and go man against URI in the second half. "They were getting a little too comfortable against the zone," he said. It worked so well that PC stayed with it. Certainly, URI seemed confused by the change. The Friars shot out to an ever-widening lead as Rhody began to rush shots, force bad shots and the baseline, where Jordan Hare was camping out, was taken away. This was the pivotal point of the game as the offensively challenged Rams had no answer to a double digit Friar lead. "Our goal was to limit their threes and make them make tough twos," said Cooley. "They shot 3-18 on threes so we did a good job there and if we can make teams make tough twos against us, we feel like we're in good shape."

• The Fans: This was one of the stranger PC-URI crowds in memory. Just 9,344 fans showed up, making it one of the smaller crowds at the Dunk for this series. Few blue-clad URI fans purchased tickets, including a much smaller than usual URI student showing, which made this crowd seem tame by comparison with previous years. Maybe the result of mediocre results over the past few years by both teams, but the usual electricity and passion seemed missing. That should return as both programs restock with improved talent.

• Danny Hurley: Our first time seeing him... the guy is out of control, like Rick Pitino on steroids. Argues EVERY single call, to the point that the refs were pretty upset with him. As a coach, you've got to pick your spots, you can't argue every call. By the end of the game, all three refs were shaking their heads at him. Out of the coaches box, way out on the floor on every possession. Was literally standing next to a player while the ball was in play and on another possession was standing next to the ref while the ball was moving by him. Got in the way of his own URI player on one possession. Stamps his feet - hard - and screams non-stop.

No doubt the guy can coach. His team played hard and gritty and hung in. But he came across like an immature, high school coach. No one could believe he didn't get teed up. Everyone was talking about him after the game. At one point, Jim Donaldson asked Ed Cooley, "How did it feel to be the sedate coach on the sidelines?"

In his press conference, he was not very gracious, especially when asked about Bryce Cotton. Instead of saying something like "He's tough as nails", he responds that, "Our guy played him to a standstill." Yes, because Cotton was playing on one leg. He'll make URI and himself the team and coach that everyone loves to hate. This isn't high school anymore.

• Jordan Hare: This kid has a chance to be a special player. Long, runs like a deer. Has improved since high school by leaps and bounds. He is an absolute catch for URI. Cooley spoke very glowingly of Hare and his potential and we agree. One observer remarked, "He has improved so much since I watched him in high school. I'm not sure they know what they've got."

• Time off: PC now enters their exam break and do not play again until December 18 when they take on Colgate. With that game, expect the debut of Sidiki Johnson and Kris Dunn, and maybe, just maybe, the return of Vincent Council.

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