Big East Game 15: Providence 76 – Rutgers 72

-Contrary to the old PC Friars that we have all come to know and love (sometimes), on Saturday night against Rutgers a slow start didn’t doom PC in the end.  In fact, PC finished the first half better than they have any game this season.  It took a little time for the Friars to realize Rutgers was handing it to them, but once they did, they stepped it up big time.

-Vincent Council is the best point guard in the Big East, hands down.  His offensive numbers haven’t necessarily been there this season, but his vision is extraordinary.  Council nearly always makes the best decision, takes shots when necessary, constantly finds the open man, and runs Cooley’s offensive like Ed was on the court himself.

-Another slow night for Cotton.  Yes, Bryce put in 22 points, but at only 3/9 from the three point line and 7/18 from the floor, there is cause for concern.  Maybe I’m blowing his play a bit out of the water, but over the last three games Bryce has been off.  I’m not giving defenses credit because they’ve known about Cotton for 2 years.  I think it boils down to shot selection and offensive rhythm.  It seems to me like PC starts almost every game trying to force Cotton the ball, who is usually blanketed, and as the game progresses Bryce feels the pressure to get shots up, which leads to poor shot selection.

-Contrary to Bryce, LaDontae is catching fire.  I’ve been very tough on Henton all season (and I’m not letting up now), but LaDontae is finding his rhythm offensively and finally draining some shots from three.  LaDontae also grabbed 10 boards.  Granted, he is still the most blocked player in the NCAA, but LaDontae is getting hot at just the right time.

-Classic Dunn: 4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals.  Love this kid.

-Kadeem didn’t have his best night from the floor (4/11 from the field) but the kid just keeps grinding.  Batts has transformed himself into one of the best big men in the league and an eventual NBA prospect.  Cooley’s staff certainly plays a role in that, but I’m giving Kadeem the most credit.

-PC’s win against Rutgers sets up a huge matchup against St. John’s this Saturday.  St. John’s currently stands at 9th in the Big East with a 8-7 conference record.  PC currently stands 11th in the Big East with a 7-8 conference record.  With a win against St. John’s, Providence could begin the assent up the Big East standings, looking for a bye in the 1st round of the Big East tournament.

NEXT GAME: Saturday, March 2nd vs. St John’s, 8pm (ESPN3)

In Appreciation of Jeff Green

NTCF faithful reader Steve in Texas recently emailed me asking when I was going to show Jeff Green some love.  After Green Unknowntorched the Suns for 31 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists, I figure there is no better time than now.  Jeff Green is the most polarizing figure on the Celtics.  There are a group of fans that hate him because he was the get back in the Kendrick Perkins deal.  There are fans who don’t have an opinion of him because he is too inconsistent to formulate an opinion on. Then there are fans, like me, who root hard for him to succeed and love it when he does.

Since Green arrived in Boston in February of 2011, I thought he would be the heir apparent to Paul Pierce.  But he got off to a slow start in 2011 with the Celtics, missed all of 2012 because of a heart condition, and has been so-so in the 2012-2013 season.  Steve in Texas brings up a great point however. Jeff Green came into the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  He was an offensive option behind Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.  When he came to Boston he was an option behind Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo.  He is still behind Pierce, Garnett, and maybe Terry on the offensive end as the team is currently constituted.

If you ask me, it’s pretty unfair for the Celtics fan base to expect Jeff Green to “be the man” when the egos and pecking order indicate a different reality.  Much was made about Danny Ainge not pulling the trigger on deals that would send Pierce and imagesGarnett out of town so the Celtics could build for the future. Many of you will say I am wearing green shaded sunglasses, but I believe the Celtics’ future is Jeff Green.  Until recently when has Doc Rivers been able to showcase Green?

The first game the Celtics played without Rondo because of his ACL injury, Jeff Green did an admirable job against the best player in the league, LeBron James.  He has also shown an uncanny ability to drive to the basket and throw down thunderous dunk after thunderous dunk.  His outside shooting has come along rather nicely in recent weeks as well.  Even Kobe has to raise an eyebrow when he sees that Green had 31 points on just 14 shots against Phoenix.

Lastly, to those people that hate Jeff Green because we lost Perk to the Thunder; Just stop it.  Kendrick Perkins has been terrible for the Thunder.  I don’t want to hear the argument that he and Garnett were mean defensively and gave the Celtics and identity.  Making mean faces and setting bad picks is not worth $30 million over 4 years.  Perkins is averaging 4 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes a game for the Thunder.  He is ridiculously slow, bad on rotations, and provides 0 offense.  Perkins is effectively done.  Jeff Green can be and will be productive now and in years to come.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF


Big East Game 14: #8 Syracuse 84 – Providence 59

-Coach Cooley’s comments following the blowout loss to Syracuse, “That’s as bad as we’ve played all year. When we played bad before, we were in the game. We were listless today. We looked sluggish.”  I can’t agree more coach.

-On a night where Vincent Council became the all-time assists leader in Big East play, the Friars got exposed for their lack of depth, lack of size, and inferior talent in comparison to Syracuse.

-Syracuse goes, 6’6″, 6’4″, 6’8″, 6’8″, 6’9″ and 6’8″ with Southerland off of the bench.  Providence goes 6’2″, 6’0″, 6’3″, 6’6″, 6’8″ and 6’5″ with Fortune off of the bench.  When Syracuse is on point, both offensively and defensively, PC simply doesn’t have the size to compete.  There were several instances when 6’8″ CJ Fair was posting 6’2″ Vincent Council up on the post.  That is the mismatch of a lifetime.  Batts was bothered by their size, Henton was bothered by their size, Cotton was as well.

-I thought that last night was one of Kris Dunn’s worst games over the past several.  He picked up a quick foul early on in the first half when trying to crowd Michael Carter-Williams, and he didn’t seem the same after that.  His offense continues to be lacking, as Kris seems to be a little tentative to shoot and unable to find rhythm.  Dunn didn’t fill the stat line like he normally does.

-Bryce Cotton was off, and when Bryce is off PC has little chance of winning.

-Vincent Council played arguably his best game of the season.  He was pushing that basketball, finding the open lanes, penetrating the defense, and working to get everyone else the best shots possible.  Sadly for Vince, many of his great passes went unrewarded as his teammates weren’t able to convert on a consistent basis.  Council still managed to rack up 7 assists, however he probably should have had more like 11 or 12.  Vin tried to will the Friars to a win, he just couldn’t do it alone.

-LaDontae battled, he was just overmatched.  That is the most aggressive I’ve seen Henton in a long time, which was nice to see.  Sadly, LaDontae just couldn’t compete with Syracuse’s size down low.

-Kadeem battled, he also was overmatched.  Several times he settled for fade-away jumpers from the free-throw line.  That’s not Kadeems game.  He is a good mid-range shooter…when left open.  Kadeem tried to drive the ball to the rim a few times, usually leading to a blocked or wild shot and quick Syracuse buckets.

-Seeing Michael Carter-Williams slice through the Friars defense like a hot knife through butter makes you cringe at previous PC coaching staffs.  He is the exact reason why PC can’t let local talent get away.  Carter-Williams is a St. Andrews product.  I know, we can’t get all of the local talent (i.e. Nerlens Noel), but I think developing consistency in terms of being in the running for all of the local talent, and signing a percentage of them, is a necessity.  Joey Mazzulla, Carter-Williams, Noel, Erik Murphy…the list goes on and on with local guys that PC missed and had success elsewhere.

-I’ve begun to hate James Southerland over the last 12 hours.  Showboating up and down the court.  Talking shit to Council every time down the floor.  Smiling in Henton’s face every time PC was on offense.  I know, maybe I’m being a bit sensitive because my team just got smoked.  I’m just not a huge fan of guys boasting and looking for attention when they are blowing someone out of the water.  You’re a member of the #8 team in the country.  You’re playing Providence College, 11th place in the Big East.  You’re supposed to win this game, and probably by a lot.  Act like you’ve been there before.  Southerland, you suck.

-In my opinion, one problem with the Friars is that no one on the court identifies that this stuff happens and acts on it.  I remember the days when Jon Kale and Geoff McDermott roamed the middle.  If shit like Southerland pulled went down, Kale is letting him know that it’s not going to fly as long as he’s in the paint.  We need some of that enforcer-like mentality.  Come on Kadeem, you’re 250 pounds.  Throw that weight around a bit.  Get a little chip on your shoulder.  Get mean!

-The Friars are now 6-8 in Big East play (14-12 overall) with 4 games remaining (@ Rutgers, vs. SJU, vs. Seton Hall, @ UConn).  In hopes of going .500 in Big East play, PC needs to go 3-1 over those next 4 games.  Coach Cooley and his staff need to get this team to erase the Syracuse game from their mind, get some swagger back, and work towards making a run at post-season play.

-NEXT GAME: Saturday, February 23rd @ Rutgers, 9pm (ESPN U)

Big East Game 13: Providence 71 – #21 Notre Dame 54

-The Providence College Friars are the hottest team in the Big East right now.  That is a phrase I never thought I would write during the 2012-2013 season.

-PC has won 4 straight games in the Big East for the first time since the greatest Friar of all time was roaming the paint (Ryan Gomes of course, 2004).

-PC beat Notre Dame for the first time since that same season, 2004.

-Coach Cooley was clearly emotional after the game when he did a sit-down interview with the ESPN broadcast team.  He kept reiterating how proud he was of his team.  I think that gives us a good sense of how much time, energy, and emotion that Coach Cooley, his staff, and his team have put into this season.  With everything they have been through, having success like they have over the last 4 games must be exceptionally gratifying for everyone in that locker room.

-Congratulations ro Vincent Council.  He passed Ernie D on PC’s all-time assists list, and is now the leader in school history.  Comparing Council to Ernie D simply isn’t fair, but Vin’s consistency and vision have been constants over the last 4 years and he now has his name in the record books to prove it.

-Kadeem Batts is playing like a man possessed.  If Batts keeps performing at this level, he’ll be a great pickup for an NBA team in the 2014 draft.  A 6’9″ big man that can bang underneath, hit the mid-range jumper, and consistently hit his free-throws must make some NBA teams salivate.

-Kris Dunn, stand up.  Scottie constantly hounds me for my man crush on Kris Dunn.  I don’t care what anyone says, it’s warranted.  As I’ve said countless times, Kris is having a tough time finding his shot this season, but he is finding so many other ways to contribute.  The kid defends like a fifth year senior.  He crashes the boards hard, gives you constant energy on both defense and offense, has exceptional vision for an 18 year old kid, and forces the other team into turnovers time and time again.  Kris Dunn is the spark that makes Providence go.  Is it ironic that in the past 2 games, when he has checked in for the first time in the 2nd half PC goes on a huge run and busts the game wide open?  I think not.  Keep doing your thing Kris, the offense will come in time, defense makes you millions (ask Bruce Bowen).

-Is Lee Goldsbrough the next Ray Hall in terms of fan fare?  Is Lee Goldsbrough the next Brian Scalabrine in terms of white-man effort?  Is Lee Goldsbrough the next Tony Allen in terms of defensive shutdown-ness?  Maybe the last is a stretch, but Lee Goldsbrough needs to stand up!  This kid is laying it on the line for Coach Cooley and the Friars.  He is diving on the floor, playing exceptional help defense, closing passing lanes, and finally making a difference in games.  Lee might be the catalyst for the Friars for the remainder of the season.  Without any big-man depth, consistent play from Lee will help this team immensely.

-Scottie forced me into mentioning Henton in this one.  LaDontae showed glimpses of his old self against Notre Dame.  He was playing with a little bit of swagger down on the low post (thank God!) and actually made a three point shot!  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, Henton still got rejected by Jack Cooley, the whitest of white men.  LaDontae needs to keep playing with some swagger to give Kadeem some relief down low.

-Bryce, keep doing your thing man.

-Fortune, keep doing your thing man.

-That might honestly be the best all-around game I have ever seen the Friars play.  It was awesome!

-Vincent Council was 3 points shy of a triple double.  The dude was all over the place.  He found the open guy on every play.  He got every rebound off of a missed free throw.  He shot when he needed to shoot, passed when he needed to pass.  Vincent Council is the best pure point guard in the Big East, no questions asked.

-PC held Notre Dame to 7% shooting from the thee-point line.  This is the same Notre Dame team that leads the league in three-point FG %.  PC forced Notre Dame into 11 turnovers.  This is the same Notre Dame team that commits the fewest turnovers per game in the league.  It’s exceptionally gratifying when after years and years of being forced to play other teams’ styles, we are finally forcing teams to play our style.

-Time to show ‘Cuse why they picked a good time to leave the Big East as the PC reign is set to begin!

-NEXT GAME: Wednesday, February 20th @ #6 Syracuse, 7pm (ESPN 2)

Big East Game 12: Providence 76 – South Florida 66

-The Providence College Friars have strung together three consecutive Big East wins for the first time in 4 years.  The difference with these wins is that they were mainly a product of great defensive basketball.

-Kadeem Batts, stand up.  You sir deserve some recognition.  For the second consecutive game Batts dominated the paint, demanding touches, and finishing consistently.  The more I watch Batts work the paint, the less I miss Sidiki Johnson (damn, I loved Sidiki though).

-LaDontae Henton, stand up.  Alright sit down.  Good game LaDontae.  That’s all your gettin

g until we start to see a little more consistency.  Coach Cooley gets visibly frustrated with Henton’s defense at times, an area that he needs continued improvement.

-In a game that Ice Cotton wasn’t feeling it, the rest of the Friars stepped up and filled in where necessary.  Batts, Henton, Council, Dunn, and Fortune (to a lesser extent) all produced for PC en route to this win vs. USF.

-Kris Dunn is the energizer bunny that makes the Friars go.  I don’t care what anyone else says, it was Dunn’s defense that got the Friars’ run started in the second half last night.  Defensively, Kris Dunn is wise beyond his years.  Offensively, Dunn displays explosiveness that is simply special, he just needs to develop a little more consistency.

-Talk about an efficient stat line for Dunn: 4 points (2-3 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 24 minutes.

-Did you see his late game dish to Batts for a dunk?  Awesome!

-If the Friars never got off to a slow start, they would be undefeated.

-USF’s size bothered PC at the beginning of the game until they transitioned to a zone defense

-PC only had 6 turnovers all game, and forced USF into 11.  If they keep winning the turnover margin, and displaying the same defensive intensity that they did in the second half of last night’s game, this team will be a tough out for the rest of the season and into the Big East tourney.e.  Once they went to the zone, USF was hurting them from the 3-point line.  That is a definite weakness of this PC team.  6’2”, 6’0”, 6’3”, 6’6”, 6’8” isn’t necessarily scary.  That’s PC’s starting lineup.

-Providence has improved to 5-7 in the Big East, still in 11th place.  They are one game behind Villanova, and 2 games back of Cincy and St. John’s.

-Their remaining schedule is vs. #21ND, @ #6 Syracuse, @ Rutgers, vs. SJU, vs. Hall, @ Conn.  Realistically I could see 4 wins out of that stretch.  That would move them to 9-9 in the Big East.  You would expect that to place them in the middle of the pack and grab a decent seed in the Big East tourney.  From there…who knows.

-This team is gelling at the absolute perfect time.  No Sidiki, no problem with Kris Dunn rounding into form.

-NEXT GAME: Saturday, February 16th vs. #21 Notre Dame, 12pm (ESPN3)

Seth Davis Says Stupid Things

I have never really been fond of Seth Davis.  I disagree with most everything he says when it comes to college basketball.  UnknownBasically, I think he is an idiot.  Last night he tweeted, ” I know we are all hoping Nerlens Noel is ok. College hoops needs him.”  I do not disagree with the first sentence of that particular tweet.  It sucks the kid went down with a very serious knee injury.  I do
hope he is able to recover and get back to full strength.

My real problem comes with the second sentence.  College hoops needs Nerlens Noel? Why? Doesn’t Noel need college basketball more than college basketball needs him?  I highly doubt Noel was going to come back to Kentucky for a second season.  He is the 2013 version of Andre Drummond, one year in college and done, off to the NBA to make his millions.  What did Andre Drummond do for college basketball?  He auditioned for the NBA with UCONN for 1 season and left the second he had the chance.

These guys aren’t going to school to go to class.  They are going because college basketball is their marketing agency.  Without college basketball, these guys don’t have a venue to promote themselves.

College basketball is always going to be great.  Take last Saturday night’s five overtime Louisville-Notre Dame game for example.  Yes, the first 39 minutes of that game would never be described as beautiful basketball.  But the final 26 minutes were mind Unknown-1blowing.  The kids left everything on the court.  Compare that game to the Celtics-Nuggets triple overtime game.  The Nuggets absolutely gave up at the end of the third overtime.  Andre Miller fired up a three out of a time out that was ill advised and then pretty much handed Jason Terry the ball on the next possession.  Denver quit.  They didn’t want to keep playing.  That is the exact opposite of what happened at Notre Dame.

Saying college basketball needs Nerlens Noel is a problem.  It’s because of statements like this that essentially worship Noel, enabling an 18 year old kid to believe he is more important than he truly is. Kentucky will get its next big recruit and Noel will be forgotten. It is unbelievably unfair to an 18 year old kid.  I will put this in a local perspective.  I don’t think Ricky Ledo will ever step on the court in a Providence Friar uniform.  He is surrounded by people that are telling him how great he is.  Now I am not naive.  Ledo is important to Ed Cooley’s Friars.  But guess what? If Ricky leaves Providence will move on.  They have Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock as incoming freshman already committed for 2013-2014.  Transfers Carson Desroisers and Tyler Harris will eligible to play as well.  Providence will move on.  They pretty much already have.

College basketball has the best postseason of any sport, yes even hockey.  The tournament is glorious.  Everyone looks forward to filling out their brackets.  Everyone loves it when they pick the big upset and detest it when their team is upset all the same.  The NBA is predictable.  Last year Oklahoma City played Miami in the finals.  LeBron vs. Durant.  Spoiler alert: That will be the case in the 2013 NBA Finals as well.  Upsets don’t happen in the NBA like they do in college basketball.  15 seed Lehigh beat Duke last season.  Charlotte doesn’t beat Miami in the NBA.

Seth Davis is sadly mistaken. College basketball doesn’t need Nerlens Noel.  Noel will never be considered a college basketball great.  Kentucky will move on with or without Nerlens Noel. Georgetown moved on from Mike Sweetney, BYU moved on from Rafael Araujo, and North Carolina moved on from Marvin Williams.

Will Nerlens Noel be able to move on without college basketball?

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Big East Game 11: Providence 54 – #17 Cincinnati 50

-I apologize for the delay.  Life is pretty busy right now and that sadly means my ability to give the NTCF faithful what they want is somewhat limited.

-I nearly predicted this win in my previous recap of the Villanova win.  I knew that the Cincinnati game was going to be pivotal.  It was a very important time in the season from the Friars.  They could build on some success and work towards the middle of the Big East, or lose momentum and drop into oblivion like the past few seasons.  PC stepped it up and made their way to 11th in the Big East.  There are a few teams in the middle of the pack with 6 wins.  They are within striking distance.  I never thought I would say that the next game against USF is the most important game of the season, but it’s looking that way.

-Hello Kadeem.  It’s nice to see you again!

-Batts must be an NTCF faithful, because the minute I call him out for not being productive enough, the dude drops 25 points and grabs 9 boards.  We needed a huge game out of Batts, and he delivered.

-Lee Goldsbrough gave Coach Cooley 26 solid minutes.  I thought that Lee was going to be buried on the bench this season, maybe catching some minutes during a blowout in either direction.  With the loss of Sidiki, Cooley needs big bodies and over the last 2 games Lee has showed that he is capable.

-Josh Fortune and Bryce Cotton were both off of their game, making it essential that Batts dominate and the Friars play exceptional defense.  They delivered on both.

-Kris Dunn only took 2 shots in 34 minutes.  I know his offensive production hasn’t been what we expected but the dude has to get shots up to get some rhythm.  I love Dunn’s athleticism and his defensive intensity is by far the best on the team.  With that being said, scoring 54 a game isn’t always going to equate to wins.  We need some production out of Dunn.

-With the being said, it’s encouraging that the Friars could grab a win while shooting 12% from 3-point land.

-LaDontae Henton continues his streak of uselessness (you didn’t think I could go through a whole post without mentioning Henton, did you?).

-NEXT GAME: Wednesday, February 13th @ USF, 9pm (ESPNU)