Friars Hit Boston College Pothole

Kadeem Batts

Providence College traveled to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College and ran into a Odetermined group of Eagles. The fired up BC team emerged with a hard-fought 71-68 win and dropped PC to 8-3 on the season, the Friars' first loss since Puerto Rico.

With the loss, Providence saw some long-range goals nicked. Gone is the chance to reach 10 out of conference wins and also gone is a road win that would have helped their RPI. The Friars are now forced to do more damage in the Big East to aid their postseason hopes. So what happened?

• Any help available for Cotton?: How much more can be said for junior Bryce Cotton? One of the most improved players in America, Cotton continued his torrid start to the season, dropping 33 points on the Eagles, on 10-22 shooting, including 7-14 from three. In fact, the rest of the Friars only pitched in 35 points. Said BC coach Steve Donahue, "Coming out of high school, no one recruited him. He had no offers. We recruited him and we had him right here on campus. I guess we made a mistake."

• No buckets: One of the reason for PC's lack of support for Cotton came in the form of an uncharacteristically rough outing for LaDontae Henton. Henton scored a career-low 4 points (although he did chip in with a game-high 8 boards). But Henton was blocked twice, threw up a few layups that had no real chance of going in and even launched a three that hit only the backboard. BC's interior players gave him fits inside and physical swingman Joe Rahon also bothered him. "Ed Cooley said, "(LaDontae) Henton was pretty ill today, he didn't have it today. But this was a game where my team was not tough. That can't happen."

• Exposed inside: BC star Ryan Anderson picked up two quick fouls early in the first half, but while Donahue continued to play him, Anderson couldn't be as aggressive as normal as a result. However, in the second half, Anderson asserted himself. The 6'8 sophomore posted up repeatedly and BC's guards did a great job getting him the ball in positions where he could do damage. Kadeem Batts had no fouls at halftime but fouled out with five minutes left due to Anderson's decision to take over the game. Andserson finished with 24 points, including 10-13 from the free throw line and a couple of key layups. The Friars could not stop him inside.

• Value added: One of the reasons that PC was successful as the out of conference schedule wore on, despite only playing with six or seven players, was because, as a team, the available players quickly learned to value each possession. PC limited bad shots, rushed shots, forced shots. As a result, each player looked to pass and work the clock to find the best shot and when they were playing at their best, the small band of Friars looked incredibly cohesive and smooth.

Some wondered how the additions of Kris Dunn and Sidiki Johnson would affect the developed cohesiveness of the team. Against Colgate, the effect of bad decisions was negligible due to an overwhelming talent disparity. However, against Boston College, bad decisions doomed the Friars. Dunn and Johnson were not solely responsible for these bad decisions but they certainly contributed. Dunn forced drives and early in the shot clock shots, passing up open teammates several times. Johnson received the ball in the low post and upon being surrounded, insisted in attempting to bulldoze through and force up prayers, rather than kick the ball back out. When Johnson is surrounded, someone else has to be open. The two additions must learn to value each possession, especially in a rock fight game like the BC one.

"You really saw from our rotations today in man to man from a team perspective, and especially Kris and Sidiki, that we have a long way to go defensively," said Ed Cooley. "This was as bad of a loss as any I've coached." Cooley added, "We're not there yet with integrating all these guys, but it's a long season for us to improve."

• Turning point: Neither team proved capable of shaking the other one. In what must be the turning point of this contest, with 2:42 to play and BC up, 62-60, Josh Fortune spun inside for a layup. The ball did everything but go down and Fortune grabbed his own miss. He attempted another layup and again the ball popped in and out. This time, Olivier Hanlan rebounded and Brice Kofane fouled him as he began his dribble. Hanlon calmly sunk both freebies and instead of being tied, the Eagles led, 64-60, a four-point swing.

• Turning point II: With BC up, 67-65 after two Cotton free throws, the Eagles ran the shot clock down and as the Friars played tough defense, Ryan Anderson slipped inside, gathered a pass from Rahon and sunk a layup with just a tick left on the shot clock and only :24 left in the game for a clinching four point lead.

• Weak side help: BC's guards came up huge on the boards. Hanlan grabbed 12 rebounds and he, Rahon and Lonnie Jackson combined for 20 rebounds. With Anderson the only healthy big, this was enormous in allowing BC to stay in the game and compile a 41-39 glass advantage.

"A system team beat a more athletic team today," said Cooley, who was clearly frustrated throughout the game with the rushed shots and careless turnovers. "We had 10 assists on offense today… that's pathetic."

• Road fowl: PC quickly began amassing second half fouls and several players were in deep trouble. Batts fouled out, Fortune and Kofane each had four and Dunn had three. With so many players in foul trouble, trouble in rotations and BC exploiting PC inside, it was a bit of a surprise to see the Friars stay in man to man instead of switching to zone down the stretch.

• Tough road: Despite the usual large contingent of Friar fans at Conte, that has not translated into wins for PC. Providence's last win at Conte Forum was back in 2004.

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