Friars Unravel Late

It's hard to believe that after fighting for a one point lead with 1:36 to go that Providence would end up losing 84-75 at Alabama. But that is exactly what happened, and so begins the growing pains of a young Friar basketball team.

In a game where the rebounds, shooting, and free throw percentages were nearly even, Alabama played the tougher second half defense, and really stepped up in the last minute to lock up a solid early season win. Greedy Peterson lead the Friars with 27 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort, and Marshon Brooks put up 22 points despite being hampered by an ankle sprain. Alabama had three players in double figures, lead by Mikhail Torrance with 26 points. Justin Knox and Jamychal Green chipped in 13 and 15 points respectively, but really attacked the boards for a combined 22 rebounds.

Providence struggled with foul problems on Bilal Dixon the entire game, and that contributed to Alabama scoring rather easily once they got it into the post. Dixon simply has to become more disciplined if he wants to be a productive player. He has now fouled out of the last two Friar games.

Despite Dixon's foul trouble, Providence played some solid man to man defense for most of the first half, and mixed it up with some 3-2 matchup zone to end half. That solid defense and very good first half ball movement gave the Friars a 37-33 lead at the break. The second half defense wasn't nearly as effective, and Providence had to scrap their way throughout to keep up with Alabama.

They ultimately did that and more, with an opportunity to win the game in the closing minute. However, no sooner had Marshon Brooks given the Friars their last lead at 75-74, the Crimson Tide would answer with two points of their own and subsequently strip Brooks from behind for a lay up on the heels of a Providence timeout. More missed shots and turnovers sealed the game for Alabama at the free throw line to make the nine point deficit at the end of the game.

Vincent Council was big bright spot for the Friars in this one, as the freshman handled Bama's pressure and had 4 assists, 4 points, 4 rebounds, and committed only 1 turnover on the night. The Friars really needed a stat line like that from him too, because it is increasingly clear that Sharaud Curry is having a real struggle right now adjusting to the new personnel and style of play that Keno Davis is installing.

Curry struggled against Alabama's bigger guards, and was a shocking 0-9 from the field with no assists in 27 minutes of play. He finished with 3 points on made foul shots. The Friars desperately need Curry to get back to his old reliably productive ways in order to win some big games this year.

While Jamaine ‘Greedy' Peterson continues to carve out a reputation as a double-double machine in the making, if learns to finish better, he could eventually become a first team all Big East player. His Dennis Rodman-like ability to grab rebounds in traffic is an incredible asset to the team, and will help them to stay close in many a game this year and beyond. His 9-19 shooting included 6 offensive rebounds. A little improvement with his touch around the basket will go a long way.

Keno Davis continues to learn more about his team, and the team does seem to be improving. The ball movement is getting quicker, and the guards are doing a better job of getting into the lane with penetration. The biggest items of concern right now are getting Sharaud Curry back on track, continuing to improve the team defense, keeping Dixon out of foul trouble, and seeing Brooks' return back to full health.

Despite easily being the best scorer on the team, Brooks' injury may have slowed his defense in this one, and it likely also contributed to him coughing up the ball seven times in the game, including in that last crucial minute. It was a painful loss for the Friars, but a very valuable experience that should pay dividends almost immediately. The Friars return to action this Tuesday at Dunk against Vermont.

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