Big East Game #8: Providence 83 Villanova 68

Last night the Villanova Wildcats came into The Dunk fresh off a win at #3 Syracuse.  They have a game Saturday against #20 Georgetown at home.  Problem is, they had a game last night against a lowly Providence Friars that they didn’t show up for.  The Friars jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes and never looked back making it two wins in a row against ranked teams for the first time since 1998.

I had numerous chances to go to the game last night but passed them up to watch the game at home with my father.  He wasn’t prepared for my newfound way of cheering for the Friars.  I have become Randy Quaid from Major League 2.  After faithfully following the Friars for about 15 years, I have gotten to the point where I realized  that PC plays everyone tough for 37 minutes and then blows the game in less than 3.  I have become negative and always looking for what’s wrong and jumping on Keno Davis every chance I get.

Last night, was a night where my father was right and I was wrong.  I was furious in the beginning of the first half with PC’s shot selection.  They took 10 threes in the opening 9 minutes of the game.  I remember saying “Here we go, live by the three, die by the three.” My father came back with: “I like this strategy, it has Villanova back on their toes and now they are trying to mimic what PC is doing.”  Point to pops on that. Villanova definitely fell into the trap of playing some helter skelter basketball, shooting 32% from the field and 18% from downtown.

I also didn’t like Keno going with a four guard set.  I even tweeted, “Well, now we are going to get killed on the boards.”  (Villanova had 21 offensive rebounds).  The problem is that Bilal Dixon has been useless this season and has forced Keno’s hand into playing a lineup that puts Marshon Brooks at the 4.  I was thinking Villanova would be able to handle Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council because they have two of the best guards in the country in Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher.  I was wrong again as the Corey’s were a combined 4-26 from the field, 1-13 from 3, and combined for 14 points.

Marshon Brooks has to be commended for still having a solid game despite being clearly off all night.  He was 0-8 from downtown and 4-15 from the floor but was still able to create offense for himself by getting to the charity stripe 14 times and hitting 12.  He had 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals on his 22nd birthday.  A win over the #7 team in the country is a nice way to celebrate.

The next big name in Providence will be Gerard Coleman, if it isn’t already.  He was the offense in the first half of the Louisville game and he played great last night.  It seems every year Providence has one freshman that gets Friartown all excited and sets the pace for the next four years.  I
love this Coleman kid.  He had 16 points last night and is a lot of fun to watch on the break with Vincent Council.

Speaking of Council, (he being that freshman last year that I was excited about) he had a stat stuffing night with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  He was also 3-4 from three point land and although erratic at some points in the game, he overall wasn’t bad.  He is still learning how to control a game and understanding when it push the ball up the court and when to slow things down.

The bottom line after this past week for the PC Friars is that they now know how to win.  They know how to close out ball games.  Something they haven’t done since the days of Ryan Gomes.  It will be sad to see Marshon go, as he was the one constant during a time of turmoil in the PC program.  But otherwise, as Keno reminds us every fifteen minutes, this is a very young team making the present a learning experience but the future very bright.  But hasn’t that been the case the past 4-5 years?

NEXT UP: @SETON HALL, SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2PM.

 

I can be followed on Twitter at ScottieNTCF

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