Providence Friars 97 (1-0)
Fairfield Stags (0-1)
The Providence Friars opened up what is sure to be the weirdest college basketball season ever, with a complete team thrashing of the visiting Fairfield Stags. The Friars went into the half with a comfortable 12 point cushion (41-29) but came out for the second frame and put the defensive clamps on the Stags. Fairfield was only able to score 3 points through the first 10 minutes of the second half, while the Friars poured on 28 points over the same stretch.
Nate Watson bullied the smaller opposing front court in the post, recording a career-high 23 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. Four other Friars scored in double-figures (Duke, Reeves, Croswell, & Horchler) en route to a one-sided opening day victory for Providence. With the Friars putting the game out of reach early, Coach Ed Cooley was able to play with his lineups and start to develop a game-feel for his new guys that he would have typically been able to do during scrimmages and exhibition games in any other season.
- The Big Dog Nate Watson was able to feast on the smaller Stags lineup, posting a stellar line of 23 points & 10 rebounds.
- The 23 points on an efficient 8-11 shooting were a career-high for Watson and the 10 rebounds were a game-high as well.
- Nate appears to have solved the uncharacteristic free throw woes that plagued him at the beginning of last season, hitting a promising 7-9. If he continues to make freebies at this rate, he is going to be incredible hard to contain for opposing defenses.
- The double-double was just the second of Watson’s collegiate career, his first coming during his Sophomore season in a 100-95 overtime win at Boston College.
- Not sure if everyone caught it, but Nate yelling out “Easy Money” while easily scoring in the post in the second half was a simple and sweet little burn.
- Just about every single broadcaster and analyst who mentioned David Duke on Fox Sports 1 mentioned how they thought he was going to have a breakout, star-making season in his Junior year.
- Despite picking up 2 early fouls and spending a good amount of the first half on the bench, Duke still managed to finish second on the team with 18 points scored, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists.
- It took a hot minute for Duke to get into a rhythm but his three-point improvement from last season (42%) looks like it has carried over to this one. Duke was 3-4 from distance and was a perfect 5-5 from the line.
- I believe that A.J. Reeves is the key to the Friars reaching their ultimate potential as a team this year. Reeves has shown impressive flashes of being a stud but has been sidetracked by some nagging injuries and a dip in his shooting percentages along with them.
- Reeves was 2-7 from deep but a couple of those misses were on target and barely rimming out. I realize that close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades but it was a silver lining of his overall shooting performance for me.
- Jared Bynum looks like the true point guard that the Friars have been missing since Kyron Cartwright graduated. The team has played a bunch of different guys at the point who were more comfortable in the off-guard role than in a pass-first mode. Bynum looks like he wants to distribute the rock to guys for optimal scoring opportunities and if his own offense were to unfold during a possession, he’s not afraid to take the ball to the rack.
- Although Bynum didn’t make a field goal, most of his misses were on drives to the rim that looked like they came from a guy who was trying to shake off a little rust from not playing real games in a long time. Those will come with a little more run.
- The St. Joe’s transfer recorded 8 assists and turned the ball of (let me check…) a total of ZERO times. The 8 assists were just 1 shy of his career-high. I have a very good feeling that he is going to eclipse that number very soon.
- Greg Gantt got the starting nod over Noah Horchler and looked noticeably stronger. His length and strength are going to a problem for opposing offenses. Gantt paired with Duke is some scary wing defense.
- Gantt averaged just 0.7 three point attempts per game last season but it appears that he already looks more confident pulling up from behind the arc. Gantt hit 1of 2 for the game and finished with 5 points before eventually fouling out (which I guess I missed).
- Ed Croswell is a BEAST. He will have no problem in the Big East with that redwood tree body type.
- In just 14 minutes, Croswell was able to score 10 points (5-7) and grab 6 boards. As projected, Ed led the team in offensive rebounds with 4 and that skill is going to translate no matter who the Friars are playing.
- Croswell’s footwork is smooth, especially for a guy of his size, which is surprising given that he was originally expected to sit-out this season so he could work on his offensive game. Even better than his footwork is his positioning in the post. He was sealing guys in the lane, presenting a big and clear path for those guys passing to him, and placing himself in optimal positions for rebounds.
- I can’t remember a Friar squad who was this deep up front. The trio of Watson, Croswell, and Noah Horchler is a formidable group of players who appear to all be able to both rebound and score.
- Horchler went aggressively after rebounds and pulled in 9 in his 24 minutes of action, tallying the most time on the floor off the bench.
- Noah’s headband looked phenomenal with his flow and seemed to remind not just me, but a lot of Friartown of a famous bad boy…Johnny Lawrence.
- Cobra Frai (via @TheWarriorFriar) was my personal favorite twist on the name.
- Plays like this will cement his newfound persona as well.
- Kris Monroe looked noticeably fitter with a slimmed down frame that already looked like it was paying dividends by the way he was flying around to get to the ball.
- Monroe recorded a career-high 8 points (3-5) in just 14 minutes and I can absolutely see him catching fire in at least 1 game this season and going off.
- Freshman Alyn Breed saw a good amount of run off the bench (14 minutes) but expectedly looked a bit tentative in his first collegiate action. I think the Freshmen are going to be the ones that were impacted the most by the limited practices and scrimmages/exhibitions. There is most likely going to be a longer learning curve than usual, but with how deep this team is, that shouldn’t pose any sort of problem.
- Brycen Goodine…welcome to Friartown!
- John Fanta is just the best. That dude bleeds college basketball and you can tell he does a ton a research before the game. Fingers crossed that he gets to do a couple more PC games this season.
- Big Nate was just as pumped us as the rest of us for the return of college hoops.
FriarTV has your full game replay if you weren’t able to make it to a TV for the 2 PM start time.
Next Up, the Friars travel to
Maui Asheville, North Carolina for the Maui Invitational to take on Indiana on Monday at 2:30 PM on ESPN2.