Friars Glide Past RIC, 97-65

Providence College kicked off the 2013-14 season with its first and only exhibition game on Saturday, by racing past Rhode Island College, 97-65. As in any exhibition game, there were always things to like, things to pick at and things to be downright worried about.

In no particular order, here are some takeaways from the Providence win:

MOIST AND DAMP: Always wanted to use those words in a story, but in this case, they fit. The game itself was delayed at the start by at least fifteen minutes as Dunk workers frantically tried to mop up moisture and condensation located along the half court area, after the referees determined that the floor would be too slippery to play on. A Dunk official speculated that lotion from the cheerleaders legs while they stretched out had caused the moisture and apparently all of the players apply lotion to their legs before games also (who knew? PC basketball has it all… beauty tips and exciting basketball), but not buying that. Players stretch out all across the court and this problem was isolated to a specific area, where the joists come together on the floor. This seemed to be a condensation issue from the ice under the floor and it can only be hoped that this isn't an ongoing issue. That aside, the new court looked spectacular.

UNHAPPY COACH: Ed Cooley spent a lot of time in the locker room after the game before coming out to address the media. "It was quite a letdown. We just didn't play well," he said. "We didn't play with the intensity or focus that we've shown in practice or against Harvard. I don't know what it was. We had a couple of short, good, stretches, but overall, we were missing that intensity." He's right, but on the other hand, the Friars put up 97 points and were remarkably consistent from half to half, outscoring RIC in the first half, 49-33, and in the second half, 48-32.

IS DUNN DONE?: For the downright worried portion of the evening, starting point guard Kris Dunn, after only 8 minutes of action, went down in front of the Providence bench scrambling after a loose ball, with a RIC player on top of him. He stayed down and when he arose, it was apparent that he had reinjured his right shoulder. He spent the rest of the first half in the locker room, returned to the bench in the second half and then went back to the locker room, obviously in discomfort. "We're just really nervous because it's the same shoulder that he tore. He's very sore. He's day-to-day but we'll look at it (with an MRI) tomorrow or Monday. I'm worried about it," said Cooley. PC fans spent all of last season waiting for Dunn to return to full health and now the star sophomore may face a similar season.

BACK-UP PG: With Dunn out, Cooley scrambled to rearrange his lineup. "We wanted to try a lot of different lineups and we may have set a record for substitutions," said Cooley. "But we wanted to see guys indifferent roles. With Kris out, we had to play Bryce Cotton more than we planned and he's limping around out there." Cotton was the first back-up point guard option, and freshman Brandon Austin was the second. While Cotton can certainly handle the role, Austin was a bit shaky, allowing himself to get trapped along the sideline near halfcourt a number of times. When he reacted in frustration after one of RIC's aggressive traps, Cooley told him, "You better get used to it. This pressure is nothing compared to what you're going to see." The spidery thin Austin (13 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers) finally shook free with about five minutes left in the game, scoring on several jaunts to the basket, but until then, looked jittery and uncomfortable. "That's the first time I've seen that," said Cooley. "I don't know if he was really nervous or something else, but that's why you have these games. I haven't seen that from him in practices or at all."

LOOK-NO HANDS!: Fouling on the perimeter will see a healthy increase this season, with the new hand check rules. RIC took themselves right out of the game, committing 28 fouls, which led to a PC parade to the free throw line. Providence was much more disciplined, committing 16 fouls. "That's one good thing we can take out of this game," said Cooley. "We've really made a point of emphasis on this and we did well tonight. We blow the whistle for fouls like crazy during practice."

SO WHO LOOKED GOOD?: On the positive side of the ledger, Tyler Harris scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting and 4-4 free throws. Harris looked extremely comfortable and ready to make an impact, gliding through RIC's defense to the basket and hitting outside jumpers. At 6'9, he'll present match-up problems for many teams. Dunn played well in his limited time and Cotton looked typically solid, banging down 10-10 free throws for 17 points. Josh Fortune was active, with 11 points on 3-8 threes, and Carson Desrosiers had 10 points and 6 boards in 15 minutes. Freshman Rodney Bullock flashed glimpses of what he can be with an aggressive 5 boards and 6 points on several nice inside moves. Everyone played, so no redshirt plans are apparent. This was a difficult game to judge bigs by because RIC had no one over 6'7, 200 pounds. The Anchormen are really a small, scrappy, well-coached team that has lots of guards, some shooters and cause problems on defense but really can't compete on the interior. The Friars outrebounded RIC, 45-19, including 20-6 on the offensive glass.

THE INVISIBLE UNIFORMS: Last, but not least, the Anchormen will be a nightmare throughout the season for all referees and scorekeepers in their away uniforms. The jerseys, which have no names, are a dark gray with dark wine-colored numerals, rendering the numbers all but impossible to see at a distance. At one point, the ref signaled the table with a foul and gave the wrong number. When coach Bob Walsh rightfully complained that the wrong player had been assessed the foul, the ref told him, "Coach, your uniforms are terrible. I can't see the numbers." Walsh agreed, leading one to wonder, who picked this nightmare color combination out?

NEXT UP: Ordinarily, this would be an opponent. But in this case, next up will be Kris Dunn's MRI results. Then, after that, Boston College comes to the Dunk next Friday in a critical, early-season matchup.

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