Game Recap: After a Slow Start, Friars Get it Together to Steamroll Merrimack 93-56

Providence Friars (4-1) 93

Merrimack Warriors (3-3) 56

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The Providence Friars and Friartown were more than happy to welcome back Big Dog Nate Watson to the court en route to an eventual blowout of first year Division I basketball team Merrimack.  Watson was definitely on a minutes count for his first action of the season, but probably ended up playing more than Ed Cooley initially wanted due to the lack of offensive cohesiveness early on for the Friars.

It will take a little time for Watson to get his timing down (and hopefully his free throw stroke back) but he should soon return to the dominant post player that the Providence offense has been so desperately in need of.  Watson was one of six Friars to finish the game in double-figures, joined by Kalif Young, Luwane Pipkins, David Duke, Emmitt Holt, and Maliek White.

The Friars continued to share the ball extremely well, assisting on 22 of their 30 made field goals in the game, and moving up to 2nd in the country in assist percentage with 71.3% of their buckets coming from an assist.  I’ve always said in the past that you need to have more assists than turnovers at the end of the game but what they’re doing is ridiculous.

Game Notes:

  • Let’s start with Luwane Pipkins who played his best game in his short Friars career so far.  Pipkins recorded a new season high in points (18), assists (8), rebounds (4), and steals (3).  His points, assists, and steals numbers were also game-highs for the Graduate transfer.
  • This was the most comfortable Pip has looked on the court so far this season.  He continued to crush it as a point guard and distributor for the Friars, finishing the game with 8 assists to just 2 turnovers.  The fact that a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio in this game actually decreased his assist to turnover ratio on the season shows you just how awesome he has been in that lead guard role.  He currently boasts a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio on the season, averaging 6.0 assist per game.
  • There are two aspects of his game that I may have underestimated coming into this season, mostly because I probably haven’t watched enough of his games prior to becoming a Friar.
  • The first thing, is his precision on alley-oops.
  • The second, is his knack for steals.  He has much quicker hands than I expected and I’m all for it.  Luwane has recorded multiple steals in all 5 games this season and is averaging 3.0 steals per game through 5 games.  His 15 total steals are tied for 7th in the Nation with two of the guys ahead of him having already played 6 games.
  • Pipkins also had his best shooting night of the season.  Pip went 5-8 from the field and 3-5 from three.  He’s really struggled from distance over the last three games, going a combined 3-18 but I’m hoping this game puts him back on track.  He appeared to take the threes that were given to him and in the flow of the offense where he was able to step into his shot rather than trying to create something out of nothing or just chucking it up against a zone.  At least he’s back up to 30% overall.
  • He also went 5-5 from the line and is still 100% on the year (9-9).
  • Alpha Diallo played despite being sick but only managed to stay out there for 10 minutes.  You could tell he was off but he probably just wanted to be out there so he could add one more game of 4 or more turnovers to his season stats, making it 4 out of 5 games so far.
  • Maliek White continues to be essential off the bench, scoring in double-figures for the third time in five games.  White finished with 15 points on 4-8 shooting and 3-5 from three.  White also contributed 4 assists to 0 turnovers.
  • Nate Watson saw 14 minutes of action and scored 14 points.  That is the definition of making the best use of your time on the court.
  • Watson, per usual, was über efficient, going 6-7 from the floor against a much smaller Merrimack team.  Every single time he got the ball, he was going to score unless he was fouled.  Unfortunately, when he was fouled, he didn’t make the Warriors pay for it, going 2-9 from the free throw line.  Watson is a 66.7% career free throw shooter through his first two years, so he should be fine…but let’s tighten that up, shall we Nate.
  • Maybe the more impressive thing Nate provided was his presence on the defensive end.  Granted, Merrimack doesn’t have a real true Center but 3 blocks in 14 minutes is something that the Friars didn’t have the luxury of before Nate came back.
  • David Duke didn’t have a particularly great night shooting, going 4-11 for 10 points, but he did do what we are becoming accustomed to seeing, chipping in 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers.
  • I’ll most likely say this after every game, but his growth from last year to this year is startling.
  • Duke has now scored in double-figures in all 5 games this season.  He has also recorded at least 5 assists in every game and at least 5 rebounds in every game except 1, when he had 4.
  • Emmitt Holt.  I just love Emmitt Holt.
  • Holt finished with his first double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) since March 15th of 2017, when he had 18 points and 11 boards in the NCAA Tournament against USC.
  • Emmitt also excelled in the middle of the zone, hitting foul line jumpers and kicking the ball to the open man when his shot wasn’t available.
  • I keep saying that certain guys had their best game of the season against Merrimack but it was also true for Kalif Young.
  • Young recorded a season-high 14 points on 4-6 shooting and was more importantly, a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line.  Seeing that Kalif is a career 45.8% free throw shooter, that should tell you just how great it was to see him hit every attempt from the line.  Maybe even more impressive than the free throws was this three point shot….nothing but net.
  •  Kalif was one of the guys to kick the collective team in the butt with a mean ass dunk and yell in the first half when Providence was looking rather lackluster.
  • A.J. Reeves still looked a little out of sorts during the game and saw a lot of his minutes go to Maliek White and Emmitt Holt in this one.  The Friars will need him so hopefully he can get his stuff together.  Even just catching the ball looks like a big ask right now.
  • And now for the really good stuff…
  • Tommy Dempsey collected his first points of his collegiate career with a leaning three-pointer from the top of the key (I heard him call glass).
  •  That second video has over 35,000 views right now, which is insane but also rather appropriate in my opinion.
  • Let’s not forget the other half of The Death Lineup…Mr. Andrew Fonts.
  • This could very well end up being the most prolific scoring season for The Death Lineup since I’ve started blogging about the team.
  • Tommy & Drew have appeared in 4 games this season.  Fonts has scored in 3 of those 4 games, averaging 2.25 ppg in 2.3 mpg, along with a pair of assists.  He’s shooting 2-5 from three and 3-4 from the line.  Dempsey is a perfect 1-1 on the season in 3 games with a pair of assists and a rebound.
  • Their combined stats in 14 minutes of action include 12 points, 4 assists, & 1 rebound while shooting 3-6 from three (50%) and 3-4 (75%) from the line.  That’s damn good no matter how you look at it.
  • P.S. Providence also hosted the Louis Family as their Wish Come True Family.

Next Up, the Friars stay at The Dunk to take on a visiting Penn team on Saturday at 4 PM.  The game will be on not FSN (FS2).

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