Providence Friars 69 (4-0)
New Hampshire Wildcats 58 (1-2)
In another game where the Providence Friars let a lesser team hang around a little too close for comfort for a little too long, it was the transfer portal products who put the game out of reach as the Friars improved to 4-0 with a win of UNH at The Dunk. Al Durham (Indiana transfer) led all scorers with 19 points, Noah Horchler (North Florida transfer) finished with a double-double, and Justin Minaya (South Carolina transfer) had his best game in a Friar uniform, with season-highs essentially across the board.
Nate Watson played as great as we’ve come to expect in Friartown, once again dominating down low to the tune of 17 points, missing only one field goal in the process. The Friars are off to their best start to a season in 6 years heading into the Legends Classic in Newark, NJ at the Prudential Center.
- UNH, who has taken care of the ball this season like their lives have depended on it, committed only three turnovers. In fact, the two teams combined for a grand total of just 9 turnovers between them.
- I said this after the last game and it still holds true, maybe even more so now, but Al Durham and Justin Minaya have been much better than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect them not to bee good or anything like that, but they have far exceeded my expectations so far this season and add so much to this team in so many different facets of the game.
- Al Durham scored a game-high 19 points on 6/9 from the field and a perfect 7/7 from the line. Durham is averaging 15.5 ppg and has firmly established himself as the 2nd option offensively to Nate Watson.
- Durham is playing less than 1 minute per game more than last year with Indiana but is averaging over 4 points higher than last season. He has been a catalyst on offense and can create his offense a lot easier than I anticipated.
- One of my favorite parts of his game, and there have been many, is how often he is able to get to the free throw line. He is averaging over 6 free throws per game so far on the season and connecting on 72% of those chances.
- Justin Minaya was born to be a Providence Friar.
- He is the epitome of everything that Ed Cooley looks for in a player. He has the toughness, high energy, defensive mindedness, hustle, attitude, and ability to play a number of positions that the best Cooley teams have thrived off of.
- Minaya and Durham played a team-high 33 minutes each. Minaya came up just shy of a double-double off the bench, finishing with 10 rebounds and 8 points to go along with his best shooting performance of the season (4/7). He also threw in a season-high 3 assist and a block because of course he did. He’s seemingly everywhere on the court all at once, cleaning up the glass or flying around on the defensive end.
- Minaya is the Junior Lomomba/Isaiah Jackson super-sub glue guy for this year’s team.
- Noah Horchler notched his second double-double of the season after recording only one last year.
- Horchler scored 10 points, hitting 2 of 4 threes. He is still slotted right at 50% from three on the season, connecting on 5/10 on the season and making the same 50% in every game he’s attempted a three-pointer in so far (2/4, 1/2, & 2/4).
- Noah took down a game-high 12 rebounds and just for fun, dropped a career-high 4 assists without committing a turnover. He already has half of the number of total assists through 4 games (7) as he did all of last season (14). His high/low entry passes into Nate have been beautiful. He takes the power forward on the other team up to the three-point line with him so he can’t help out the defender guarding Nate and hits him with great passes putting him in easy spots to convert.
- Speaking of Nate, no one can stop him one-on-one. Watson shot a hyper-efficient 7/8 from the floor on his way to 17 points.
- The foul shooting needs to tighten up soon or opponents are just going to send him to the line rather than have him go to work in the post. Nate was just 3/8 from the line.
- A.J. Reeves kept his 3-point streak alive (just barely), now having hit at least one three in all four games this season. Reeves did contribute a career-high 2 blocks to the Friars cause after amassing just 2 all of last season.
- Jared Bynum hit another three. Of course, that was his only made basket on the night though.
- Alyn Breed ended up playing more minutes than Bynum for the game (21 to 18) and was much more effective on both sides of the ball. Breed was 3/5 from the field for 6 points and although he made a couple handsy fouls, his size on the defensive end helps with switches and guarding bigger guards.
- Bynum’s hair game was definitely a plus though.
- It also makes him look taller which is an added bonus I’m sure.
- The big guy on UNH, Nick Guadarrama, was very smooth with some nifty moves for a guy his size.
- I’m not sure why Qon Murphy doesn’t start for the Wildcats. He sure as hell looked like he should starting.
Next Up, the Friars take on Northwestern in the Legends Classic in Newark, NJ at the Prudential Center on Monday at 9:30 PM. The Game will air on ESPN+.