Fairleigh Impressive Start

When you win your home opener by twenty five points, both coaches and fans alike have to be relatively happy. Providence's 96-71 win was an easy walk over the Farleigh Dickinson Knights, and an encouraging start to the regular season.

However, in the interest of due diligence, Friar Insider breaks down the good, the bad, and ugly of the season opener at the Dunk.

THE GOOD

Sharing the basketball. In a display of good motion offense and unselfishness that harkens back to a 103-79 over Georgetown in 2001, the Friars put up 96 points in 40 minutes with their senior leader Herb Hill only playing 23 minutes. The Friars amassed 24 assists in this one, and shot a blistering 62% from the field in the 1st half, 57% for the game. Sharaud Curry paced the team with seven assists, a statistic he has been looking to improve upon this season. Geoff McDermott incredibly matched him with 7 assists of his own and Weyinme Efejuku chipped in with 5 assists himself. Overall, excellent team play on the offensive end from this group.

4 Starters in Double Figures… Hill 22, Curry 18, McDermott 16, and Efejuku 13 all showed off their offensive skill in this one and at times looked as good as anyone. Scoring should not be problem this year.

King of the Hill… Despite picking up a silly 4th foul with 12:24 left in the 2nd half, Herb Hill's 23 minutes were very productive as he went 10-11 from the field scoring 22 points along with 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal. Given all his touches, only committing three turnovers wasn't a bad statistic either. While the formidable Sean Williams of BC will be a huge test for Herb next Tuesday, there appears no doubt that Herb is going to be a force all season long for the Friars.

Improvement at the charity stripe… If Providence is going to win some of those close games this year that slipped out of their hands a year ago, good free throw shooting is going to play a part in the reversal of fortune. Last night, the Friars went 13-15 from the line, which was a very good sign given that improved free throw shooting has been a real point of emphasis this year. They likely would have had more attempts had Weyinme Efejuku not gotten himself in early foul trouble.

First Half defensive effort... The Friars saw some of the recent upsets in high major hoops and came out determined not to let someone catch them napping. Providence held Farleigh Dickinson to 25% shooting from the field in the 1st half, and a modest 26 points. The M2M perimeter defense switched off well and was very aggressive, maybe a bit too much at times as it sent Weyinme Efejuku to the bench prematurely with some quick fouls. The Friars also had 10 steals in the first half, another sign of good defensive effort.

THE BAD

The 2nd Half Defense… Now this letdown was admittedly somewhat expected given that the last 20 minutes were essentially extended garbage time with a thirty point lead. The Friars lead actually ballooned as high as 34 points with 16:21 to play in the 2nd half, but sloppiness creeped into the team's play on both ends of the court after that point. Fairleigh Dickinson's field goal percentage was nearly 46% in the 2nd half, and the Friars allowed far too many layups for Tim Welsh's liking. Maybe the quick start and excitement of opening night gassed the team a some in the 2nd half, but Tim Welsh stressed that his team has yet to put together a full 40 minutes of good play and that they must learn to do that in order to knock off the good teams they will face. In a twenty five point win, a 2nd half defensive letdown is not going to matter all that much. However, a similar dropoff next week against Boston College could produce a much different result.

THE UGLY

There wasn't a whole lot of ugly in this one, with the exception of what the Friars gave up on their defensive backboards. While the Friars got their fair share of offensive rebounds (13), they gave up an atrocious 20 defensive rebounds to Farleigh Dickinson, a team with no starter over 6'8. While Ray Hall and Jon Kale show good effort under the boards, what they lack is leaping ability and quickness off the floor to grab rebounds. As a result, it is absolutely imperative that they box out well and use their size to secure defensive rebounds. The first half was particularly a problem in this regard, as the Friars gave up 12 second chances to Knights. By attempting four more field goals than the Friars due to offensive rebounds, Fairleigh Dickinson may have made the game far closer had they not shot the ball so poorly. This is something that warrants close attention as the season moves along.

FRIAR NOTES

Friar freshman point guard Dwain Williams missed the game due to an ankle sprain. He is still limping quite a bit and is definitely questionable for the Brown game on Saturday... While Friar center Randall Hanke will not participate in any first semester games, he will be eligible to play in the second semester starting with the Holy Cross game if he does not choose to take a medical redshirt. He looks for forward to rejoining the team... While the Friars do not expect a fall LOI for 2007 recruiting, they continue to actively recruit Darrion Pellum and Jamine Peterson with the hope of a verbal commitment(s). They are monitoring other 2007 prospects as well. Friar Insider will be adding 2008 names to the Recruiting Notebook in the near future.

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