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Friars’ skid hits four, lose to DePaul

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Ed Cooley's job just got a little bit tougher.

The Providence Friars' head coach - forced to work with almost no bench earlier in the season due to injuries and eligibility issues - now has new problems to tackle.

Reinforcements have arrived, but adding them to the lineup has proven to be much more difficult than first thought.  Throw in a major step up in competition for the Friars as they enter Big East play...which brings around renewed defensive efforts against them...and a struggling team is losing its confidence.  That much was evident in an 83-73 defeat to DePaul Saturday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

The Blue Demons (10-5, 1-1 Big East), who now have four road wins to their credit already this season, played a tough man-to-man defense against the Friars most of the night, pressuring in the backcourt and not allowing PC's shooters to reach any level of comfort in their offensive sets.  With Providence (8-6, 0-2 Big East) leading 28-27 with 3:19 to play in the first half, the Demons out-scored the Friars 10-2 down the stretch to take a 37-30 lead at the break.

While the lead wasn't insurmountable, it was the way in which it was achieved that didn't bode well for the 2nd half.  DePaul shut out PC's LaDontae Henton in the half, and held the Big East's #1 scorer, Bryce Cotton, to a mere four points.  Reaching out to the shooters, the Demons also held PC to 0-6 from three-point range...and 31% shooting overall.

With the defensive tone set, DePaul continued to apply pressure early in the 2nd half, and raced out to a 43-30 advantage in the opening 2:30.  A 22-8 run overall put the Demons out to a 59-38 lead with 11:13 to play, as they threatened to pull away.  The lead grew to 22 before the Friars inserted Ted Bancroft into the lineup, and his defensive energy sparked the team's play over the final 6:40...eventually getting PC as close as 72-64 with 1:54 remaining.

The pressure worked - but the effort behind it simply came too late to change things.  The Blue Demons connected on 17 straight free throws from late in the first half through most of the second to help put the Friars on ice, and hand Providence its first loss at home this season after seven wins.  

There was very little flow to PC's game offensively, with turnovers a huge factor for the second straight game (16 vs. Louisville, a season high 23 against DePaul).  Credit the Demons' defense for much of the ragged play on the offensive end...but it's also becoming clear to see that reintegrating Vincent Council (along with Kris Dunn and Sidiki Johnson) into the flow of the game is becoming harder with each passing game.

Which is making Ed Cooley's job that much tougher as well...as the season approaches the half-way point.

Friar Notes

The 83 points scored by DePaul are the most allowed by PC this season in a game...Cotton, who didn't practice following the Louisville loss, did manage to score 20 points (16 in the 2nd half) to lead the Friars in scoring.  Kadeem Batts added 17 and Council 16, but Council also had 8 turnovers with 6 assists.  Dunn managed just one assist with six turnovers, and clearly struggled with the ball against DePaul's quicker hands and full-floor pressure...Henton was held to six points (with nine rebounds), the 2nd straight game he's been held by an opposing defense to less than 10...Johnson showed some power in the low post with career-best numbers of 9 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes...Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 23 points and nine boards, while Jamee Crockett and Brandon Young each added 15...the Friars outrebounded the Blue Demons 44-35, but the season-high 23 turnovers led to 20 DePaul points.  DePaul also hit 24-29 from the foul line for the game, while the Friars hit 22-34...PC also managed just 3-15 (all from Cotton) from three, and didn't get their first trey until late in the 2nd half...the loss is PC's 4th straight overall, and the Friars will next face nationally-ranked Syracuse in the Dunk Wednesday night at 7:00 pm...




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