Losses Mount for Flawed Friars

While Providence has had difficultly winning just about anywhere lately, the road has been particularly cruel to the Friars. Providence has a record of 1-8 in true road games this season, and Saturday night's 80-53 loss to West Virginia was one of the worst. The Friars will now have a week off to try and regroup for a final push to qualify for the Big East Tournament.

Besides the many references to a lack of a point guard and the turnovers that have plagued this year's Providence Friars, there are a couple other glaring problems that seem to rear themselves game after game. For starters, Providence has been unable to put together 40 minutes of good play or even close to that for most of the season. Secondly, the Friars have not had a player the entire year who can be counted on to carry the team offensively when adversity hits. Many players have had their moments, but good teams have starters who can be counted on to produce regularly, and this Providence team has sorely missed that all season.

While they rarely are awful for an entire game, PC too often shows up for a half and is missing in action for the other twenty minutes. The West Virginia game was a text book example of this as they were only down six at the half and were manhandled in the 2nd twenty minutes by a 47-26 margin.

This Jekyl and Hype type play been seen in numerous loses the season. (@URI, SC, @DPL, SHU, @SU, @PITT) While many of the Friar losses demonstrate this, even some of PC's wins have been a tale of two games. (TEMPLE, BC, DPL). Oddly enough, Providence has often put together some of its more complete efforts in losing causes to top teams. (ND, Louisville, & Gtown)

This seeming ‘on and off' switch that fans witness is in large part explained by inadequate defense (14th Big East) and turnovers(13th Big East), but it's also explained by a roster that is highly inconsistent offensively. Providence has five players who average double figures in scoring for the season, yet they only have one player who is in the top 30 in Big East scoring. (J.Xavier, 12.1ppg) While this demonstrates some scoring balance which is good, it also reveals how Tim Welsh as not been able to count on big production from any of his starters from game to game.

This has led to wild fluctuations in scoring where a player like Weyinme Efujuku will score 25 against Georgetown's league leading defense one night, and go 1-6 vs. West Virginia with five turnovers the next. While Efejuku is the most striking example of this type of inconsistency, almost every player who gets regular minutes has run hot and cold all year. The players are responsible for how they perform in games, but it is also the job of the coaching staff to reach these players and find a way to get the best out of the them. Both coaches and players are accountable for the inconsistencies that have derailed a season that held great promise for the first 3 months.

There is also no ‘go to' player on the Friar team, and perhaps that is what is missed most by the absence of Sharaud Curry. While Herb Hill was PC's best player last season, it was almost always Curry who has taken the biggest shots over the last two years. With Curry hurt on the sidelines, Providence has really had no one capable to step up and carry the team when adversity strikes. No where does adversity strike more than on the road, and the Friars have paid dearly all season long.

So with only the hope of making the Big East tournament left, the downtrodden Friars and their embattled coach have to now do some self searching for solutions in their week off. Can the team shake off some of the persistent problems and disappointments that have dogged them all season long? Do they have enough motivation and fight left in them to give their best effort for 40 minutes over the final three games of the regular season? Will Tim Welsh be able to end this disappointing year with some satisfaction that his team fought its hardest when times proved the toughest?

All these questions will be answered in the next two weeks, and the what unfolds will likely provide a lot of answers to some of the larger questions that will soon face the coaches, the players, and the program in the coming weeks and months.

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