DePaul Blue Demons (8-14) 77
#11 Providence College Friars (18-5) 70
Well, I guess we can just call this one the Murphy's Law game (everything that can go wrong, will go wrong). Actually, over the past 2 years, there have been three such games that the Friars have found themselves in that would qualify for this. Last year, it was the Kentucky game at Rupp Arena and the NCAA Tournament game against Dayton. Those two games last year just happened to be the two biggest games of the year with a National audience.
The Murphy's Law game this year was against the most unexpected opponent that I never would have even guessed...lowly DePaul. The perennial cellar-dweller of the Big East came into last night's game 1-8 in Big East play, having lost 8 of their last 9 games.
It's not as if the Blue Demons were getting absolutely blown out in their losses, but they were still losing the majority of their games. In this one, Ben Bentil was limited to just 14 minutes after getting his right ankle rolled up on in the first half. Kris Dunn never looked comfortable after Bentil went down and it's no coincidence that in these three so-called Murphy's Law games, Dunn has been one of the main factors for Providence's struggles. The Friars go as Kris Dunn goes. He's the engine that runs the PC train.
- First off, fingers crossed for Bentil's X-Rays.
- The Friars got off to their usual glacial speed on the offensive end but Bentil looked like he was going to get the Friars back into this one before going down with the ankle injury. The sort of fortunate news is that it isn't the same ankle that he hurt earlier in the year. The bad news about this is that it was the inside of the ankle that he tweaked and he went to the ground in much more visible physical pain this time than last time.
- Bentil tried to give it a go in the 2nd half but couldn't get up and down the court without some extreme effort and Cooley shut him down in favor of long-term success over short-term success that could have turned into a long-term detriment.
- Here's a dose of what Bentil was going to do to the big men of DePaul if he played the whole game.
- With Bentil out (and really even when he was in the game) DePaul absolutely DOMINATED the Friars on the boards.
- The Blue Demons doubled up the Friars and out-rebounded PC 48 to 24 for the game.
- DePaul had fucking 18 offensive rebounds and at one point had more offensive boards than Providence had total rebounds.
- Jalen Lindsey and his athleticism were actually really missed on the rebounding front.
- But, on the plus side, Ryan Fazekas got his groove back while he ate up all of the available Lindsey minutes.
- Fazekas looked like beginning of the year Fazekas and drained 3 of 6 threes and recorded 13 points. Ryan made multiple threes for the first time in his last 8 games. Before going down with mono, Fazekas had multiple three pointers made in 7 of his first 9 games and made at least 1 three in all 9 of those contests.
- Even more important the the three point shooting was the fact that Fazekas played over 20 minutes for the first time since returning from mono. The shots are going to start falling now that it looks like Ryan has his feet under him a little bit more. The 29 minutes played were huge to me.
- On the brighter side, if you want to look at a silver lining of this game, the non-star guys logged some productive minutes without Bentil and Lindsey playing that could pay dividends down the road. Fazekas, Quadree Smith, and Kyron Cartwright all looked pretty good at times.
- Quadree Smith returned from his hand injury and looked quite good in limited action. He has a really soft touch around the basket and finished well at the rim. He uses his large frame well to create space that he needs to finish over taller defenders, not to mention that he is money from the line. The free throw shooting was something I didn't expect from him this year and something that I hope can translate into a consistent midrange jumper in the future.
- Smith is 11-13 from the line this year, good for 84.6%.
- Q finished 3-4 from the floor for 7 points but didn't record a rebound in 11 minutes of action. Some of that has to do with the Friars playing zone for some of the time he was in the game and some of it was the team just not rebounding well the entire game.
- Kyron Cartwright looked good one play and not so good the next. He was a little out of control at times and threw up a couple of unnecessary bad shots but would then nail a 3 the next time down the court. I'm not sure if he's ready to handle that big of an offensive burden with Bentil on the bench but at least he was showing some effort in trying to do so on the offensive end. Cartwright finished with 10 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
- Junior Lomomba was kind of invisible this game if you ask me. He needed to step up to take some of the burden off of Dunn if PC wanted to pull this one out.
- Kris Dunn had one of, if not his very, worst games of the year.
- Dunn tends to press a little bit when he knows he has to try and individually will the team to victory. I don't think that the big number of scouts helps either. Think back to how he played at the beginning of the Michigan State game this year under the microscope.
- Dunn's final numbers don't look all that bad at first glance. He finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. However, those 14 points came on 5-20 shooting from the floor and what we got was this look for most of the game...
- Kris is always tough on himself and he knew, as did everyone else, that the team was depending on him to take over and lead them to victory. His misses were all rimming in and out and he just looked down on himself the whole game.
- What I was really hoping for was somebody to reassure him and get him to pick his head up, whether that be Cooley, Shammgod, Bentil, Lomomba, anyone. The body language wasn't good but guys need to prop him up in those moments as he goes through some of the growing pains of being a star.
- I have absolute confidence that Dunn will come back in the Nova game with a fire and be right back to the Player of the Year candidate that we've gotten up this point in the year.
- Even with how bad the Friars played, DePaul gave them an infinite amount of chances to take the win away from them. The overall numbers for the team don't look as bad as you might expect (39.3% from the field, 40.9% from three, 86.7% from the line) but the rebounding and the loose ball battle was dominated by the Blue Demons. The missed end of one-and-ones down the stretch didn't help anything either.
- The good news is that a win on Saturday can erase all these bad memories.
Next Up, the Friars take on the #3 Villanova Wildcats at 2:30 PM at the Dunk. The game will be shown on FS1.