Paced by an emerging veteran leader in Rodney Bullock and a cast of gritty freshman, the Providence College Friars handily defeated the St. Francis (NY) Terriers 64-48 in their second home game of the Emerald Coast Classic. Bullock posted his first double-double of the season with 19 points, 12 rebounds and notched an assist, steal and block to round off an impressive performance.
The Friars looked bouncy and energetic coming off of a lackluster and emotionless win over Grambling State this past weekend. The black and white jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and maintained a convincing edge throughout.
The inexperienced and undersized St. Francis (NY) squad provided Ed Cooley with an opportune matchup to flaunt the Friar’s talented freshman class and depth. Coach Cooley and his staff have done a fantastic job of padding the Friars’ bench with a capable young cast of student athletes, each exhibiting an extremely high ceiling.
Making his first collegiate start in place of the injured Emmitt Holt, Kalif Young destroyed the Terriers’ front court in seemingly effortless fashion. If you hadn’t known any better, Young could have fooled you for a seasoned upperclassman with All-Conference potential. Quarterbacked by Kyron Cartwright, Young wowed the Friar Faithful with emphatic dunks, ally oops, aggressive rebounding, a beautiful no-look assist and a handful of savvy post-moves.
Throughout the first half, Cartwright made it a point to feed Young the ball. Coach Cooley may have discovered PC’s third legitimate offensive threat, through Cartwright’s generosity. Ask any Friar Fanatic and I am sure most everyone would agree that this is major development; especially considering that PC fans have gotten used to a duel-scoring threat over the past few seasons.
While on the topic of depth, I would like to extend a warm welcome back to Drew Edwards. The crafty sophomore logged his first minutes of action, as he is now fully recovered from meniscus surgery in June. The combo-guard, who played an impactful role in PC’s 24-win campaign just a year ago, didn’t miss a beat and produced almost immediately after entering the game. A crafty slash to the basket, Edwards was able to convert a difficult layup in isolation. With Edwards back in the rotation, the Friars are closing in on a 100% healthy roster.
Aside from the standout play of some new faces, a large portion of the Friars third victory can be attributed to Jalen Lindsey’s aggressive defense and energy. An uncharacteristic showing to say the least, Jalen attempted just one shot and it was a heavily defended put back attempt under the basket, in the first half. It’s hard to say whether or not Coach Cooley tailored the game plan around other offensive weapons, but it was refreshing to see Jalen impact the game as an energy guy. Pulling down 8 rebounds, Lindsey prevented the undersized Terriers with limited chances at second opportunities. Cartwright was able to manufacture most of Lindsey’s boards into transition opportunities. Jalen’s decreased role in the offense may have been impacted by the game-plan or it could have been a convincing display of maturity and leadership from the junior.
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Needless to say, the domineering presence of PC’s former two-headed monster; Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil has left the building. It’s time to find out who will step up and fill that void. Over the next few weeks it is imperative that the Friars passionately pursue a team identity and develop an offensive rhythm. As anticipated, this game proved to be a glimpse into the future of this young and spunky squad.