In a battle of two bad teams, we got smoked. There were some positives. It was a tie game at the half, 40-40. It was still tied at the 8 minutes left media timeout in the 2nd half. Providence dominated from there on.
I was optimistic when it appeared the team had more energy pregame than it did at Purdue. I was sitting about 6 rows behind the bench and I could see and hear Chris Hines showing some leadership trying to get the guys fired up during a timeout in the first half. Our press seemed to cause them some trouble, but when we went to the zone they killed us with penetration along the baseline.
I really don't want to hate on Ben Eblen, but we've got to cut his minutes if we want to have any chance of being remotely competitive this year. I think Coach Grant has some sentimental connection to him because he's from Florida and he stuck with him when he changed jobs, but there's no way he should be seeing 15 minutes per game. He played the 2 position with Releford in the game for a good portion of the second half, and it's beyond confusing as to why you would have both of them on the floor at the same time. I understand that Hillman was in foul trouble, but still...
Providence is picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East. Despite their good record, even most of their fans readily admit that they pretty much suck. It was an away game, but it was far from a hostile environment, there is no excuse for losing this game, especially as badly as we did. What concerns me the most about this game is that we were badly outcoached.
When Providence went on their run in the second half, we never called a timeout. In fact, we didn't use a single timeout in the second half. I think by now everybody knows how I feel about Coach Grant's use of (or more accurately, lack thereof) timeouts, so that's all I am going to say about that. Even a Friar fan sitting in front of me said, "you should never have 4 timeouts left at the end of a game that you are losing."
It seemed like after every media timeout Providence went on a run. Nearly everytime they had an inbounds on the baseline under their basket they scored.
We should have had a much bigger lead in the first half. We did a good job of getting to the rim, but we couldn't finish. Credit Keno Davis and Providence for making the adjustment in the second half to play off of us and force us to take more jumpshots. Unfortunately, we took the bait and as usual we couldn't hit anything.
This team's shooting is average at best at home, and it sucks ass away from Tuscaloosa. Charvez Davis is going to have to figure how to shoot the ball outside of Coleman Coliseum. At this point, I would have him shooting 200 3 pointers per day, at a different local high school gym each day. Furthermore, Senario Hillman needs to step it up. He dominates against poor competition but goes into hiding on the road and in big games. Fouling out with 6 points will not cut it.
JaMychal Green scored 15 points and had a pretty good first half. Unfortunately, he got soft at times in the second half and couldn't make a shot in crunch time when we needed it most.
Providence can't shoot either, but they finally got hot toward the end of the game. Major props to Marshon Brooks, he is a hell of a player and basically carried them to victory.
Coach Grant appeared very frustrated after the game. He was the first one off the court for our team, actually walking amongst the Providence players into the tunnel.
This is a bad team right now, and it's hard for me to see it getting any better. It will be a struggle to finish with a winning record, much less make a postseason tournament. I could see us going 3-13 in the SEC if there isn't some sort of drastic change.
Providence is a really neat town. There are a lot of cool bars and restaurants in the downtown area, and it has most of the big city conveniences with a quaint, small city feel to it. The Providence fans were very nice and respectful. The arena is one of the nicest I have seen. It seats about 12,000, has a very nice lobby area and concourse. It has a good, comfortable configuration with everyone having a good view and being close to the court. My only complaint is that it seemed very dark in there, although that could be due to the black seats. The arena is owned by the city and is not on campus; I still have not seen Providence's campus. I was on Brown's campus last night, and it was very nice.
The crowd was not very strong. There was probably around 7,000 there, and the atmosphere was lame. They didn't really make any noise at all until they went on their run late in the second half, and even then it wasn't that loud. Their fans didn't even stand up for the starting lineups, student turnout was pathetic, and they didn't even have a pep band there. I assumed this was due to the winter break, but I was told that the students were still on campus, although I'm still not sure if that information was accurate. We actually had a decent following. I would estimate we had close to 200 fans there between the block from the NY and Boston Alumni chapters and others scattered throughout the arena. My gf didn't make the trip, so the number and quality of pics is limited, but I did take one of the BOA building and a few at the game. Note the 1987 final four banner, sorry to bring back bad memories.
Up next, SE Louisiana comes to Tuscaloosa Wednesday night for an inexplicably late 8pm tipoff.