Providence raced past Stonehill, 93-49, in its only exhibition game. The final score was indicative of what a defending Big East champion should do to a Division II squad, but Stonehill kept it somewhat competitive in the first half.
From the opening three-pointer by freshman point guard Kyron Cartwright, PC threatened to turn the game into a rout right from the get-go, but a stale offense during the final ten minutes of the half enabled a gritty Stonehill team to keep the game within 15 points. PC led at the half, 40-27, and Ed Cooley was not happy. The Friars did not return to the floor until just a couple minutes remained of halftime.
PC came out aggressively to start the second half, opening the scoring on a nice backdoor layup by Kris Dunn, and the Friars used a 25-9 run to break the game open. The final fifteen minutes were, essentially, garbage-time, as Stonehill went ice cold and PC pushed the lead into the 40s.
But the end result was a mere formality. More important was the performance of the young Friars and with six new faces and Dunn, who had played only 4 games last season, combinations and chemistry are where games will be won early in the season.
The revelation of the exhibition game was Cartwright, a lightly recruited true point guard who had originally signed with Loyola-Marymount and had very few high major looks.
Cartwright is a solidly built guard with nice speed. He’s not a blur, as some have described, but has great quickness and a nice higher gear that enables him to weave past defenders. Possessing excellent ballhandling skills, Cartwright is very similar to Dunn in his creativeness with passing the ball, delivering no-look bullets to cutting teammates.
He also is not shy about shooting the rock. Kyron hit 7-13 shots, including 2-3 from three and opponents will have to respect him. When on the floor, he was the primary point guard, enabling Dunn to slide to the two, but playing together, the Friars have two superb ballhandlers.
The thing to remember about Cartwright, for those who may be wondering if he looked this good because he was playing against a Division II opponent, is that he is a product of Compton High, a perennial powerhouse in California high school basketball. He regularly played against elite talent on the West Coast and it appears that Cooley has found a hidden gem.
The other newcomer who made an immediate impact, but is less of a surprise than Cartwright, was power forward Ben Bentil. The 6’8 big man had 13 points, on 6-9 shooting, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks and looked very comfortable on the court. PC truly has a good one in Bentil, who, as a freshman, already has a pro body. He had a monstrous put-back dunk in the second half and also showed a willingness to take open perimeter jumpers, although he was 0-2 on threes.
The Friars’ other newcomers have some work to do. Jalen Lindsey hit his first three-point attempt, but finished with 5 points on 2-6 shooting. With his fingers on his shooting hand wrapped and splinted, Lindsey’s lack of practice showed as he never seemed fully comfortable on the floor. Paschal Chukwu is the very definition of raw offensively, although he will help in rebounding and shot blocking. He had one point on 0-2 shooting, but contributed 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Chukwu badly needs to build strength and must learn to keep the ball high, because smaller, stronger players will rip it away. His conditioning also must improve; he didn’t run the court well on a few transitions. Junior Lomomba scored 3 points on 1-4 shooting, hitting his only three-point attempt. Lomomba is strong and long but was quiet in his 18 minutes of playing time. He has a flat trajectory on his shot and had trouble finishing on a couple of drives. After his performance in Italy, Friar fans are expecting more from him.
PC’s returnees played very well for long stretches. LaDontae Henton scored 16 points, on 6-10 shooting, and had 3 rebounds in 20 minutes. Henton started slowly but poured it on in the second half and looked good on drives to the hoop and outside shots. Tyler Harris had a team high 19 points on 8-14 shooting and a team high 8 rebounds. He committed just one turnover and played within himself. Working against Stonehill’s much smaller front line, Harris scored at will close to the basket. Carson Desrosiers had 5 points on just one basket, but grabbed 5 rebounds with 2 blocks. His aggressiveness and touch around the rim both still need to improve, but along with Chukwu and Bentil, Desrosiers provides excellent rim guarding ability. Finally, Kris Dunn had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, on 5-10 shooting. Dunn looked extremely comfortable, showing no rust from his absence of game action. Extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands, Dunn can get to the rim with ease or pass for easy baskets. As always, he is a disruptive defender, bothering opposing ballhandlers constantly. Dunn went down hard once but popped right up to the crowd’s relief, and looks fully himself again.
After a head-to-head collision with Harris in practice that left him with a huge black eye, Ted Bancroft sat out, as did freshman guard Tyree Chambers, who has a left thigh injury.
THE GOOD: All in all, this should be a fun team to watch. As a whole, the team passes the ball very well and teams who pass well usually are fun to watch and successful. There is good balance in the scoring, excellent ballhandling and the team is big and long. The Friars will develop into a good defensive team. Stonehill really struggled to score. They hit just 21.4 percent for the game and were outscored 53-22 in the second half. In this game, PC committed just 8 turnovers as well and had an excellent total of 22 assists.
THE AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Despite having a huge size and length advantage over Stonehill, PC outrebounded the D2 opponent by just 47-39 and for most of the game, the rebounding totals were even. In addition, Stonehill was even on the offensive glass, 12-12, and PC outscored them on second chance points by just 14-13. The frontcourt-heavy Friars must do a better job on the boards. The other area to be improved upon are fouls. PC was whistled 22 times, compared to 14 for Stonehill and fouls due to aggressiveness are fine. However, many of PC’s fouls came from excessive reaching and not moving their feet well enough. That needs to be cleaned up.
WHISPERS: Reports are that Tyree Chambers has been a big surprise in practice and is playing very well… Rodney Bullock is up and around and walking with just a slight limp. His rehab is going extremely well.
Thoughts From an Exhibition Against Stonehill
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