Big East Game 6: South Florida 79 – Providence 72

-Big East play hasn’t been as forgiving as the Friars hoped heading into the 2010-2011 season, as they have now lost their first 6 games in the league, and it’s not looking like things will be getting any easier.  Of the Friars’ first 6 Big East games, there were two that stand out as must-win games if PC wanted to make some noise this season.  With St. John’s on the up-swing, both Rutgers and South Florida looked like the two games that the Friars needed to win.  After Sunday’s loss a South Florida, the Friars are one of only two teams in the Big East without a conference win, alongside DePaul.  Thankfully, the Friars are heading back home hopefully to regroup, get some more practice time, and get things back on track.  Unthankfully, PC will welcome in #17 Louisville and #7 Villanova for their next two games.

-I watched the entire game on Sunday, unlike Thursday’s game against West Virginia.  For about 35 minutes of the game I was excited that the Friars would be picking up their first Big East win, and then would be heading home to hopefully pull out an upset against one of the in-conference-big-boys.  Then, the last five minutes can and I saw the Friars of last season.  They couldn’t get a good bounce, a good call, a rebound, a defensive stop, or a clutch shot.  The Friars fell apart, and it seemed like there was nothing anyone could do about it.  I’m not pulling out the embarrassment card again on this one, but the Friars needed that win…badly.

-Two players deserve some praise, Kadeem Batts and Ray Hall.  I ripped Batts after the West Virginia game for playing tentatively, soft, and very freshman-like.  Batts must be a regular visitor to NTCF, because he was a different player on Sunday.  He posted a double-double for the game, putting in 19 points and grabbing 11 boards.  When the offense became anemic, Batts bailed them out, hitting two threes on the day, showing range that few of us thought he had.  Kadeem has been forced to pick up the slack that Bilal Dixon is leaving because of his uninspired play (2 rebounds on Sunday!  Unacceptable!), and on Sunday he did a pretty good job.  Ray Hall has provided a spark for the Friars over the last two games that no one saw coming.  Hall has looked like a new player recently.  He actually has grabbed a few rebounds over opposing players, and shown the slight ability to score underneath the basket.  You’ve got to give Hall credit for battling through years of injuries and sticking with this team through everything.

-Marshon Brooks continued his offensive dominance again on Sunday, putting in 28 points, grabbing 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.  Although Brooks continually tries to put this team on his back and carry them to victory, Marshon needs to realize that the Friars are most effective when he creates for his teammates.  Defenses pay so much attention to Brooks that he could find teammates for wide open shots on almost every possession.  Often, towards the end of games, Brooks stops moving the ball and tries to run isolation plays.  That isn’t working, and Keno and Marshon need to realize that.

-The Friars shot 43.9% for the game, but 30% from the field in the second half.  Their inability to hit jump shots has plagued them over the last 6 games.  I’m hoping that Vincent Council is hurt, because I have no other explanation for his poor play.  Duke Mondy needs to realize that as virtually the Friars only consistent performer off of the bench, he needs to score more than 5 points.  Gerard Coleman disappears for several minutes at a time, and as a starter he has to be a consistent threat.  Things need to change for the Friars, and they need to change soon…

NEXT GAME: Saturday, January 22nd vs. #17 Louisville, 5pm

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