Friars Drop First Home Game

The Friars were feeling great a week ago with a win at Uconn, but they had to feel an equal sense of dejection Thursday as they lost their first home game of the year to Seton Hall 88-75. A quick turn around game at Syracuse is Sunday, and Providence needs to refocus quickly to avoid falling back in the Big East.

There was some concern coming into the Seton Hall game that the Friars' week off might lead to a sluggish start. Instead, fans at the Dunkin' Donuts Center were greeted with the Friars jumping out to an early lead over the Pirates. Despite some early foul trouble sending Brian McKenzie to the bench, Providence still built a solid first half lead over Seton Hall sparked by Jeff Xavier and Weyinme Efejuku.

Besides hitting shots, the use of man to man defense by Providence appeared to keep Seton Hall out of sync in the early going. The Friars lead grew to 26-11 with 8:49 remaining. Thereafter, Seton Hall began to settle down and find their rhythm offensively.

A big momentum swing at the end of the first half seemed to propel Seton Hall toward what would be an outstanding second half of basketball. With the Friar lead eroding to just three points, PC set up for the last shot of the half. Dwain Williams, who was off his game all night, telegraphed a pass to Charlie Burch that Eugene Harvey picked off and took for a lay up at the buzzer. That play energized the Pirates with all the confidence they would need to play their best basketball in the second half.

Seton Hall quickly built a lead in the second half and shot impressively from the field (50%) as well as from the free throw line.(24-27) The Friars could not stop Seton Hall's penetration off of picks and was a step slow in finding shooters in the zone. Seton Hall put up a blistering 51 points in the second half, and the Friars could only try and play catch up the entire way.

Providence had a number of problems in this game, and some poor shooting percentages played a role. (6-23 3pters) Once behind, Providence did not demonstrate patience or move the ball for the best shot. Instead, they settled for quick transition three point attempts or ill advised one on one moves. Faced with a hot shooting Pirate team,

Providence needed to show some of the methodical offense they displayed for much of the Connecticut game. On defense, PC was also step slow on defense after the first 10 minutes or so. Providence has had trouble defending against quick, guard oriented teams all year long. These smaller, quick teams appear to counter the Friars' perimeter attack some, and force Providence out of their best defense, the zone.

If Providence is going to get a win on Sunday at Syracuse, they're going to have play much more physically on defense, and show some discipline on the offensive end. Syracuse loves to run, and the Friars can't match that tempo without a playmaking point guard. What shouldn't be dismissed in the loss to Seton Hall was Brian McKenzie's foul trouble. As Friar fans know, PC's recent winning streak was in part predicated on McKenzie's steady play at the point. Brian never really got on track against Seton Hall, and once the early energy wore off, the Friars reverted to some of the play they exhibited in losses at Marquette and Depaul.

Providence needs to put an end to the quick shots and execute their half court offense better, demonstrating some patience in running offensive sets. They also have to use their bulk and strength of out tough other teams. The team seemed to have found a winning formula for some success in the Big East, but it certainly did not play like an experienced or confident team on Thursday. That's got to be remedied and quickly in to make progress this season.

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