Providence Friars (1-0) 77
Siena Saints (0-1) 67
A.J. Reeves, Welcome to Friartown.
A.J. Reeves made an emphatic arrival to the Providence Friars by dropping a team-high 29 points for PC as they opened their season at The Dunk against the visiting Siena Saints. The Friars gained control of the game with a run at the end of the first half but let Sienna get a little sniff of a game down the stretch by allowing a handful of open threes to a team that wants to focus on shooting threes this season.
Although Sienna was a paltry 8-24 last season, matching the most losses in the team’s history, they look to be allowing to let their young guys play freely and launch bombs whenever they see a glimmer of space. The Saints are coached by first year head coach Jamion Christian, formerly of Mt. Saint Mary’s.
Besides Reeves, the Friars had three other players in double-figures. Isaiah Jackson (16), Alpha Diallo (16), and Nate Watson (10) were all able to reach double-digits in the first half and all but Watson chipped in a couple more in the second half.
- First of all, didn’t it feel like waking up on Christmas morning with the return of college basketball or was that just me?
- Before we get to all the good stuff that I want to talk about, let’s get this other stuff out of the way. The Friars were not good defensively, at all. To be in a 7-point game with just over 3 minutes left to a team that went 8-24 last season and lost their top 6 scorers is not ideal. Granted, this is just the first game with a bunch of new faces getting lots of minutes and Ed Cooley giving a lot of guys some run as he tries to determine his rotation, it still wasn’t very good.
- Siena hit 12 three-pointers, shooting 44.4% from behind the arc. The threes that they made came in bunches with the Friars giving way too much space on the perimeter.
- Siena actually outscored the Friars 33-27 in the 2nd half.
- The Friars also turned the ball over 15 times, something that we thought might be a problem when watching the exhibition games. Fortunately, they also had 16 assists.
- A.J. Reeves is even better than advertised. Reeves was on fire the entire time that he was in the game, finishing with 29 points, an all-time Friars record for points in a game for a Freshman debut. The craziest part of Reeves’ performance was that it came in only 30 minutes of playing time.
- Reeves was 10-13 from the field, including 7-9 from three. I knew the kid could fill it up and knock down from distance but good lord, that was something to watch.
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) November 7, 2018
- And if it wasn’t enough for him to explode offensively, he showed a little bit of what he can do with his size on the defensive end as well.
— The Morning Hangover (@TheMorningHang) November 6, 2018
- One more time in slow-mo…
👀A.J. REEVES 👀
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) November 6, 2018
- I was a little surprised by the starting line-up for the Friars. I wasn’t expecting both David Duke and A.J. Reeves to get starting nods for the game and was even a little more surprised that Kalif Young got the start over Nate Watson. That is they way that they went for some of the season last year so we’ll see how it plays out as the season goes on. I just hope Kalif worked on those free throws in the off-season. I need you over that 50% threshold this year bud, especially if you want to play down the stretch.
- Alpha Diallo is going to be an all-around great player this season. It looks like his off-season work focusing on improving his three-point shot is already paying dividends for the pre-season 1st Team All-Big East selection.
- After shooting just 24.3% on three-pointers his Freshman year and an even worse 21.4% on three-pointers last season, Diallo looked much more fluid and comfortable taking and making shots from distance in his first game of the season, going 3-5 from deep and 6-11 overall from the floor. He still took a couple of shots a little too quickly with a guy in his face but he’ll find some better looks for himself as the year goes on and he gets more and more comfortable in the flow of the Friars lineup. Still, Diallo finished with 16 points and looks every bit of an upper-classmen leader so far.
- Diallo led the team with 11 rebounds, recording his first double-double of the season. Last year, Diallo had 6 double-doubles last season.
— The Morning Hangover (@TheMorningHang) November 7, 2018
- Alpha also led the team with 5 assists. I think Im going to make a little bit of a bold prediction and predict that Diallo will lead the Friars in points, rebounds, and assists this season.
- Isaiah Jackson was money per usual. Jackson is the X-Factor for the Friars this season. He’s like a Super Glue Guy. Usually glue guys will fill out your stat sheet and do all the little things to help your team win. Jackson is like a suped up version of that, basically like a Glue Guy 2.0.
— The Morning Hangover (@TheMorningHang) November 7, 2018
- Jackson finished the night shooting 6-9 for 16 points, including 3-5 from distance. He chipped in 3 rebounds and 4 assists for good measure. I believe that Jackson will have to be a consistent scorer for this team as the usual ebbs and flows of the younger guys may pop up every now and again. Jackson and Diallo are the obvious leaders of the team this season (and Emmitt Holt if he starts to play more as the season goes on).
- Emmitt Holt only played 6 minutes in this game but it was just so damn awesome to see him back on the floor at all after an abdominal injury sidelined him for the whole season last year. You should read this fantastic article about Holt and his family by the Woonsocket Call’s Brendan McGair if you have a chance.
- Kalif Young got the start but with the game revolving more around the outside shooting, the Friars never really got a chance to go down low for any offense. Young wasn’t able to get a bucket but did grab 4 boards in 16 minutes.
- Freshman David Duke got the start at the point over Makai Ashton-Langford and looked very athletic whenever he wanted to push the pace down the court. Duke may have had a little first game jitters going on as he finished 0-5 from the field with 3 turnovers but all the looks that he got at the basket were good looks. Just like any Freshman who transitions to the college game, turnovers are going to most likely be an issue starting out.
- Makai Ashton-Langford dealt with foul trouble for most of the game and was thus a little challenged to find a rhythm for most of the game. He did have a nice little stretch where he attacked the rim and finished back to back buckets in the second half at a time when Providence really needed to answer back on some Sienna scores. MAL was 2-4 from the field but his two misses were end-of-the-shot-clock heaves that really had no chance of going in. I still want to see if the three-point shot can become a part of MAL’s game this year, but we just didn’t get a chance to see if it’s there yet with the foul trouble.
- P.S. so was he wearing a headband that ties in the back? I couldn’t get a good look at it but I think it looked something like this…
- Drew Edwards looks like he might have a tough time cracking this line-up with the insane depth that it has for ball-handlers this year. I still love Edwards against the zone if we have some trouble against them this year as he is great at penetrating and finishing around the rim against them.
- Big Nate Watson scored 10 points on a perfect 5-5 from the field in an efficient 24 minutes of the bench. The one thing that I was looking for from Watson was an improvement in rebounding and he was able to grab 6 boards while in the game, so that was good to see. Watson averaged just 1.9 rebounds per game in just under 14 minutes per contest last year. The 6 rebounds actually matched his career-high in rebounds that he also recorded in the first game of the season last year against Houston Baptist. Nate only recorded 5 in one other game and 4 in two others in his Freshman season.
- Nate did get caught jumping on shot fakes quite a bit, especially on some much less athletic guys, so he still has to work on that a little bit.
- Maliek White was 0-3 from the floor, all from three-point land. I have confidence that those will fall in the future.
- Freshman Jimmy Nichols played 5 minutes but didn’t get to do much with his time on the floor.
- First winning pic of the night.
- I think I’m going with Big Nate for my favorite in the first pic.
- Quick check in with PC Commit Greg Gantt on the game…
@ajreeves11 ⬅️ is a BUCKET BUCKET🗣‼️
— Greg Gantt Jr. (@juuune__) November 7, 2018
- His game will FLOURISH in this offense with this team.
- It also looks like Ed Cooley has made it into the Jon Rothstein’s catchphrases for this season.
Ed Cooley. The American Dream. #pcbb
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 7, 2018
- A little A.J. to finish it off, along with Ed Cooley being his usual awesome self.
WATCH: A.J. Reeves on his historic night for @PCFriarsmbb “Today I just had the ball rolling”
— Yianni Kourakis (@YianniKourakis) November 7, 2018
Next Up, the Friars travel down to Annapolis to face Wichita State at Navy’s Alumni Hall for the Veteran’s Classic. The game tips at 6 PM on Friday and will be on CBSSN. I’ll be there so I won’t have to worry about finding that channel before tip-off.