The Blue Devils returned to the court against a Division 1 opponent for the first time in 15 days, and things didn't exactly go well. After a Jamir Coleman 3-pointer tied the game at 11 just under 6 minutes into the ballgame, Providence went on a 28-9 run over the next ~8 minutes, effectively ending any chance for an upset on Sunday afternoon.
Friars on Fire From Deep
Despite missing perhaps their best three-point shooter (AJ Reeves) due to injury, the Friars had their best three-point shooting performance of the young season on Sunday.
Providence shot 11 for 23 from deep, with six different players knocking down a three-pointer. Isaiah Jackson was 3 for 6, while Alpha Diallo, Maliek White, and Makai Ashton-Langford each made two.
Sure, it'd be easy to look at the box score and go "of course CCSU got hammered, PC made a ton of three-pointers". However, a lot of those shots were wide open. I'll always defer to the coaching staff when it comes to X's and O's, but I was somewhat surprised they stuck with the zone defense for as long as they did. It felt like the zone was one or two steps slow to rotate consistently, and because of that shooters were open. And even when a shot didn't go in, the Blue Devil rebounders were not in good position.
Of course, it may be the case that Central Connecticut would have had as much, if not more, of a problem in a man-to-man defense given the size and athleticism of the Friar wings.
And at the Rim Too
I wrote in the game preview that Providence was over-reliant on the mid-range game, and forcing the PC offense to settle for two-point jump shots could be one of the keys to pulling an upset in this one.
Well, that sure didn't happen. The Friars took just 10 two-point jumpers (making 4), instead taking 23 three-pointers and 26 shots at the rim, making 15.
While the CCSU frontcourt players such as Deion Bute, Jamir Coleman and Joe Hugley will get their share of blocked shots in NEC play, they were no match for the size Ed Cooley was able to throw out there.
While I don't have the supporting data, at least part of the problem seemed to be the the inability for Central Connecticut to get back on defense, allowing quite a few transition buckets, specifically after missed field goals.
Jamir Coleman Gets Going
After a three-game stretch that saw him fail to score in double figures, Jamir Coleman had himself a game on Sunday; 21 points on just 14 shots, to go along with three boards.
Coleman's combination of size and skill is tantalizing; for as big as he is (listed at 6'7" 215 lbs.), he can shoot it (9 for 16 from three on the season), handle it, and jump out of the gym. Yet his offensive performance has been somewhat up and down, and he's perhaps been a bit underwhelming on the boards.
With that said...man, when he's on, Coleman is something. Against Providence, the JUCO transfer looked more like a Big East player than a Northeast Conference guy. He knocked down two three-pointers, got to the rim, got out in transition, and had the mid-range game going.
I don't think there's anyone on this roster I'm more excited to see during league play, as I think he's going to be a major match-up problem for NEC teams.
It's easy to take a player like Tyler Kohl for granted. However, after watching this team play the better part of two games without him (illness, then ejection for a Flagrant two foul), it was great to see him back at it on Sunday. And he certainly didn't disappoint; 18 points on 14 shots, plus 8 rebounds. And while I can't stand two-point jumpers, when he can take two hard dribbles to the left and pull up, it's a higher percentage shot no matter where he is on the court.
I felt for Ian Krishnan on Sunday; it just seemed like he couldn't get an opening! With that said, the one play in the first half during which he drove into the lane and dropped a beautiful dime to Deion Bute for a layup got me excited. He'll likely be the guy next season, and he'll have to make those types of plays. He's averaging just 1.5 apg this season. I'd bet that number is closer to 3 as a sophomore.
I wonder if 12/16/18 is the date on which Tyler Kohl becomes, effectively, the backup point guard. Thai Segwai had a tough one; he came in early in the 1st half, turned it over twice in the backcourt, and went back onto the bench until midway through the second half. He now has 14 assists against 16 turnovers on the season, and is just 2 for 16 from the field.
Kashaun Hicks was a surprising DNP, though I did not notice if he was on the bench and/or in street clothes. The RS sophomore has averaged 16.6 mpg on the season so far this year, and while the data doesn't really back it up, I think he's been much better than he was as a freshman.
A really nice game for Tyson Batiste; just 4 points and 1 assist, but he had a bunch of deflections defensively, and ended up with three steals.
Kudos to Marshall for not giving Tyler Kohl the 2-foul auto-bench in the 1st half; he sat him for a couple minutes, but ultimately brought him back in at the under-4 timeout. Marshall has done a nice job in that department this year, showing trust in certain players despite foul trouble.
Man, Providence looked more like a sweet 16 team than a team that will likely spend the majority of the season on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Alpha Diallo is really good, and they have a ton of length that will give teams fits all season long. How they blew a 20-point lead to UMass I have no idea,
The Blue Devils get another week off from games, heading to Maine next Saturday to take on the 2-10 Black Bears. Only two more non-conference games remain.