Friars rally past Ravens, 87-69

Providence College kicked off the 2016-17 campaign with their one and only exhibition game, against a formidable and unbeaten Carleton University squad on Saturday in front of 4,875 die-hards. The Friars won, 87-69, after a resurgent second half.

Carleton University, from Ottawa, Canada, was not your typical exhibition game foe. The Ravens have won 11 of the previous 13 Canadian collegiate national championships, including the last 5 in a row, and came into this game 12-0 on the season, having defeated a series of American foes, including Wichita State by a 100-75 score. Along the way, Carleton was averaging 95 points per game.

 

The Ravens certainly looked the part in the first half, leading 41-30 at the break after being led by Connor Wood’s four three pointers and 18 points and Kaza Kajami-Keane’s 10 . In addition, the Ravens exploited PC off the glass, 24-14 and held the Friars to 26 percent shooting, including 1-10 from three, fueling fan’s concerns that the poor shooting that plagued PC throughout last season would once again be a problem.

 

The second half was a complete turnabout, as PC outshot Carleton 65 percent to 31 percent, and poured in 57 points. Fatigue seemed to affect the Ravens as they were mired in deep foul trouble throughout the half and once the game opened up and PC was able to get out and run, baskets came much easier.

 

Rather than go into detail about how the game played out, let’s take a look at what was the first glimpse of this year’s Friars for many fans.

 

THE RETURNEES

With stars Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil gone, much is expected of the trio of experienced regulars that consists of Rodney Bullock, Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey. All three had their moments but none stepped up and dominated the action.

 

Bullock would seem to be the most likely to take his turn as the next Friar star, but he struggled against a guard and wing-dominated Ravens team, with 8 points and 3 boards. In post-up situations, he had trouble bulling his way to the rim, while in the open floor of the second half, he was able to convert on a pair of nice, driving, off the glass baskets.

 

Cartwright now assumes the role of lead ball handler, and at times reverted to bad habits and played too fast. While he had a team high 3 assists, he struggled, especially in the first half, to facilitate the offense. His struggles extended to shooting, where he was 2-7 for 6 points and his shot did not look significantly improved from last year. However, it’s a mistake to judge one game and Kyron will need to build on this performance.

 

Lindsey continued to be a trick-or-treat player on offense but was a force on defense. At halftime, he asked Coach Ed Cooley to guard Wood and Jalen shut the marksman down in the second half, holding him to 0-3 shooting and no points. Without a doubt, Lindsey hustles, is starting to draw fouls and will be a defensive stopper. Offensively, he scored 11 points, but was just 1-6 shooting the ball (9-13 from the stripe) and 0-4 from three on open looks. If he can become consistent shooting the ball, he can fulfill the promise that so many see in him.

 

Ryan Fazekas came off the bench and played 15 minutes, scoring 6 points on 1-5 shooting, all from three-point range. His three came late, during a Friar second half run that was burying Carleton, and as Cooley said, “He needs to see the ball go through the basket.” Rebuilding his confidence will be a key point to watch this season and will go a long way to helping PC’s shooting situation.

 

NEWCOMERS

For the Friars to have any success this season, it’s apparent that their talented group of newcomers will have to step up and contribute, sooner rather than layer. Against Carleton, four did just that.

 

Emmitt Holt comes in as the most battle tested of the group, having started his career at Indiana University and last year at Indian Hills Junior College. Holt is a 6-7, 230 pounder with long arms and a nose for the ball and possesses excellent scoring instincts. Against Carleton, he led the way with 19 points (5-7 shooting, 8-10 free throws) and 10 rebounds. He has nice touch around the basket, can hit midrange jumpers and even nailed a late wide-open three. He’s also a good offensive rebounder and forces the ball back up in a crowd, drawing trips to the foul line. Holt should be a key contributor all season for the Friars.

 

Word around the Dunk before the game was that the team might be one ballhandler short and that, while Maliek White was going to be good, he wasn’t ready yet. Based on his performance against the Ravens, White just might be a game player and not a practice player. White was so good that Cooley kept Cartwright on the bench for most of PC’s second half surge, and even when Kyron did return, the ball stayed in White’s hands. He scored 15 points on 5-8 shooting, including 3-4 threes. He shoots a rotation-less shot but shows no fear in taking big shots. His only issues came on defense where he struggled to keep Kajami-Keane from turning the corner and getting into the lane.

 

Kalif Young was a late steal, no doubt about it. Although he fouled out in 12 minutes, the 6-9, 250 pound center showed high upside. He hit 3-4 shots, flashing a soft touch around the basket and a lot of hustle. Young wowed the crowd when he followed up a miss with a rim-shaking jam and his emergence is critical for a team begging for more beef and height in the middle. He helped PC to a 24-10 second half rebounding edge.

 

Alpha Diallo was another late steal. The stout, 6-6 swingman has an awkward looking jump shot but excels in the open floor, snaking his way around defenders to the basket. He contributed 10 points on 4-7 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds, while playing solid defense. Diallo is a Roosevelt Jones-type offensive player and should be a future Friar star.

 

Word around the Dunk prior to the game also centered around Isaiah Jackson. Jackson was described as a poor man’s LaDontae Henton – minus the ball going in, as he has struggled with his shooting in the preseason. Against Carleton, Jackson played 18 minutes and was 0-3 from the floor, with 3 boards. With experience from a season at George Mason, Jackson will be counted on to shake the rust and be more productive going forward. He has the look, but did nothing to distinguish himself in this outing.

 

The Friars will play a closed scrimmage next weekend against Northeastern and will then open the season on November 14 at home against Vermont at 7 p.m. 


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