(4) Providence Friars (18-16) 72
(5) Arkansas Razorbacks (18-15) 84
What the shit was that?
The Friars were given a home game to open up the NIT Tournament against an Arkansas team who was without their best player, Daniel Gafford, a projected mid-to-late first round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, who chose to skip the NIT Tournament and start preparing for the draft process instead of playing in the tournament.
Arkansas led the entire game with their lead never even getting into single-digits in the entire 2nd half.
The effort from the Friars, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where they have been a Top-30 team by most metrics this year, was completely nonexistent. The Razorbacks were able to get to the rim whenever they wanted and converted on alley-oops and dishes for dunks down low on what seemed like every single possession. Arkansas shot over 50% from the field (50.9%) and 47.6% from three point land on 21 attempts.
On the other side of things, the Friars shot 38.7% from the field and 13% from three. That’s right, 13%. Providence made only 3 of their 23 three-point attempts for the game. What a disappointing effort to end the season on your home court nonetheless.
- Before the game was even played, the Friars got some encouraging news from their opponenets’ team. Their best player, big man Daniel Gafford, chose to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft instead of participating in the NIT. I’ve seen Gafford projected from the mid-first round to the end of the first round.
Mike Anderson told reporters that Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford will declare for the 2019 and sign with an agent. Will not play in the Postseason NIT.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 18, 2019
- So, not only were the Friars getting a home game, but they were also facing a team without their best player. Pretty good scenario for syour first roung game right? Wrong.
- The visiting Razorbacks came out guns ablazing. They are a fast-paced team that looked to push the ball even moreso with Gafford out of the lineup. They were running and gunning and the slight extending of the three-point line didn’t seem to affect them at all.
- Arkansas shot a spicy 10-21 from three point land and assistsed on 19 of their 29 made baskets. They look like a team that wanted to prove that they could play without their best player from the season and may have had a bit of a chip on their shoulder with his decision to skip out on the post-season tournament.
- The Friars defense which had ranked Top-30 in the Nation in a handful of categories basically didn’t show up for the game. Arkansas got to the rim whenever they wanted and put on somewhat of a dunkfest down low when they got there. The Razorbacks shot 50.9% for the game and led for the entire contest, including leading by double-digits for the entire second half.
- The Friars went to Nate Watson early and effectively when they were able to get him the ball but went away from pounding it to the post for long stretches of time for reasons that remain unknown to me. Withouth Gafford, Watson should have feasted on the remaining bigs of Arkansas.
- Watson hads 15 points and 8 rebounds but only played 21 minutes. I didn’t get the rotation the entire game but the fact that Watson only played 21 minutes was by far the most baffling to me.
- The point guard trio of Maliek White, David Duke Jr., and Makai Ashton-Langford combined for 6 assists and 6 turnovers.
- In his defense, Maliek White was one of the only effective offensive players for the Friars throughout the game. White scored a game-high 19 points, tying his career-high that he set against Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament this year.
- Although the extra distance to the three-point line didn’t seem to affect Arkansas, it certainly didn’t bode well for Providence. The Friars were just 3-23 (13%) with the following guys all putting up goose eggs:
- Alpha Diallo (0-4)
- David Duke Jr. (0-1)
- A.J. Reeves (0-4)
- Jimmy Nichols Jr. (0-1)
- Kalif Young (0-1)
- Kris Monroe (0-1)
- Isaiah Jackson (0-4)
- Makai Ashton-Langford (0-1)
- So it wasn’t like just one guy couldn’t connect. Only two guys (White – 2 & Edwards – 1) made a three at all for PC.
- Alpha Diallo was able to notch his 10th double-double of the year, finishing with a guady stat line of 12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 steals, and 5 assists, and showing why he led the Friars this season in just about every statistic.
- Unfortunately for Alpha, it took him 13 shots to get 12 points. That’s not very good.
- The Friars played 11 guys during the game. I don’t get that. Cooley had previously said that he thought he was playing too many guys early in the year and that undefinited roles and quick substitutions were key reasons as to why the team struggled in out of conference play. Ed seemed to get down to about an 8 guy rotation with the occasional 9th guy depending on the matchup and/or foul trouble and the team seemed to have better chemistry because of it. Not sure why he reverted back to playing so many guys.
- Reeves couldn’t get his shot going but he did have a pretty sweet dunk on a drive to the hoop.
— The Morning Hangover (@TheMorningHang) March 20, 2019
- David Duke, per usual, showed flashes of the defender he can be on a nightly basis.
— The Morning Hangover (@TheMorningHang) March 20, 2019
- The effort as a whole was embarrasing and the crowd, albeit it on a Tuesday night at 9 PM, didn’t seem to show up either.
Today was a microcosm of the whole year. We could not make a shot at times. Credit Arkansas, they played well. We tried a lot of different defenses. Just could not slow them down. They had more pop. – Ed Cooley #GoFriars pic.twitter.com/p1n8bQfxY8
— PC Men’s Basketball (@PCFriarsmbb) March 20, 2019
- Emmitt Holt waits to see if he is granted a 6th year of eligibility by the NCAA.
- Drew Edwards is graduating in the Spring but has 1 more year of eligibility.
- Isaiah Jackson now looks to catch on with a professional basketball team, most likely overseas.
Thank you everyone for all the love and support in Friartown🖤.. Had a lot of ups and down this season but learned from them all.. Looking forward to chasing after my professional career… https://t.co/sw9BbKwxV7
— Isaiah Jackson (@Zay4Jack4) March 20, 2019
- The lone commit to next year’s class, Greg Gantt, looks to get back to full health before next season.
- It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the off-season and how the other Big East teams (all of whom made a post-season tournament) preform from here on out.