Defenseless Friars Stunned By Brown

After a disheartening road trip to Chestnut Hill the Friars headed across Rhode Island's capital to meet intra-city rival Brown University. The Friars hadn't played an away game against the Bears in 30 years, and needed a road win to recover from the 68-71 defeat against Boston College. The Bears came ready, and Providence College lost for the first time in six years to the Ivy League foe, 68-69.

Dogfight: For the second game in a row the Friars could not close out their opponent. Brown captured a 6-5 lead 3:48 into the game, and would hold onto that lead until just under the 12 minute mark. While the Friars kept the lead from getting out of hand, they also prevented themselves from closing it out sooner. During this nine minute stretch where Providence fought to cover the gap created by Brown the Friars missed nine of their 11 field goal attempts, had five turnovers, and only outrebounded Brown by two.

While Providence eventually tied Brown at 15 points each with 11:51 to go in the first half, the Friars were showing problems finding a way to get in sync with each other on the floor. Providence and Brown would exchange leads throughout the remainder of the half, Providence never leading by more than a single possession at any time.

Henton's Os and Woes: With 14:32 left in the second half, the Friars down 38-39, LaDontae Henton made a layup to put the Friars up by one and spark what should have been a game-sealing run. While the rest of the Friars only converted on 1-8 field goal attempts, LaDontae Henton went 7-8 on shooting, including 5-6 on three point shooting. From this time until the 2:56 mark in the second half, Henton totaled 24 of the Friars 26 points. The result? The Friars were only up by seven, their largest lead of the game. Every three LaDontae hit was responded to by an open three from Sean McGonagill or Tucker Halpern.

Lazy defense and a failure to adjust to the Brown game-plan allowed the Bears to hang around during this 11 minute stretch. These defensive lapses were added to by Henton himself, who would make a brilliant shot on offense, only to lose his man or be faked out by a simple pump fake on defense moments later. Although Henton finished the game with 37 points (almost four times as much as the next leading scorer on the Friars) Cooley gave him no praise in the post game press conference. "LaDontae was gross defensively, it doesn't matter what he did offensively. He was the worst defender in the building. LaDontae couldn't guard an ant in an ant building."

Turning Point: The turning point for when the Friars truly lost the game is debatable. Arguments could be made that a turnover on an inbounds pass with 45 seconds left, sparking a 9-1 Brown run, was the reason. Conversely, the last three pointer by Halpern with eight seconds on the game clock to put them up one on the Friars is another, given Josh Fortune's defensive misstep that allowed the three to be hit.

An argument could also be made that Kadeem Batts' technical foul with 9:30 left in the second was the turning point as it allowed Brown to begin exploiting the Friars lack of discipline further. However, I would argue that the turning point came during Henton's offensive run. If Providence had been able to defend and stop even 25% of those shots that Brown made during that time the Friars would have had a double digit lead and had the opportunity to close out the game. However, the offensive punch meant nothing because Brown was able to continually answer back. It wasn't a turnover, nor was it a last second shot, that caused the game to turn into a Brown win – it was when Providence had the opportunity to go on an offensive kill shot and failed to properly stop even one shot attempt by Brown.

Cotton-less: Once again the Friars were without a full lineup, this time missing leading scorer Bryce Cotton, who had gotten fluid in his knee drained earlier and was unable to compete. Despite losing their leading scorer, the absence of Cotton is not a justifiable reason for the loss. While it may have contributed, the Friars need to look to their own faults within this game offensively and defensively.

Fast Breaks, Rebounds, and Paint: The Friars, simply put, did not play their game on Friday night. The frontcourt, which many believed would be an advantage over Brown, failed to capitalize on their opportunities to contribute meaningfully. On the glass they allowed themselves to be outrebounded 30-37, and in the paint they were outscored 18-22. There is no excuse, nor justifiable explanation, for these numbers to appear. The staff should be holding the players accountable for this performance, as this was a team that should not have outmuscled the Friar interior. Furthermore, the Friars – an excellent running team with the likes of Council, Dunn, and Fortune – were kept to zero fast break points. They were beaten in transition every time, and there is no justifiable explanation for that either. This wasn't a freak occurrence … this was bad execution.

Underestimated: In an October edition of FriarPod, a discussion of trap games in the non conference slate came about, and in that conversation I mentioned that Brown was the biggest trap game on the schedule. In addition to playing an away game, Brown's new head coach was a young but experienced coach who had seen success in the Ivy League as an assistant at Penn, and was already familiar with the Brown team from playing them in conference as well as playing for them as an undergrad from 2000 to 2004. Furthermore, Brown was returning a talented backcourt with the ability to hit the long ball, and the majority of the team was either sophomores or juniors, giving the Bears plenty of experience. This was, by all intents, a winnable game for the Friars and a game that the Friars should have won, but Brown was underestimated by the players and PC ended up having to recover rather than close. While many say Brown is Brown, and that they were 3-6 prior to the matchup against the Friars, the Bears are en route to building a much stronger, and much more competitive, Ivy League program, and the Friars were victims of underestimating that.

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