Fri­ars in need of Big East win

Prov­i­dence heads to Ge­orge­town win­less in con­fer­ence play

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

Prov­i­dence heads to DC to face Ge­orge­town

PROV­I­DENCE — Be­fore the sea­son tipped off, Ed Coo­ley declared “We’re only go­ing to be as good as our vet­er­ans. If our vet­er­ans are good, we’re go­ing to put our­selves in po­si­tion to have suc­cess.”

It’s worth dust­ing off Coo­ley’s words from early Novem­ber after his Prov­i­dence Fri­ars squan­dered a chance to start off Big East play on the right foot. The ball didn’t bounce PC’s way in two home games against Creighton and Vil­lanova. Now, Coo­ley’s crew treks to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal for a Satur­day noon­time tip against Ge­orge­town, look­ing to crack the con­fer­ence code and shed the “only Big East team with­out a league win” la­bel.

If the Fri­ars (10-5, 0-2) are go­ing to get off the can­vas and make a push to­ward pros­per­ity, the play­ers with the most sea­son­ing need to lead the charge. Specif­i­cally, we’re talk­ing about the ju­niors and se­niors who are key cogs in Coo­ley’s ro­ta­tion. Isa­iah Jack­son, a fifth-year se­nior, along with ju­niors Al­pha Diallo and Maliek White need to lead the charge and turn in per­for­mances that don’t re­sem­ble the stat lines that ap­peared next to their names after losses to the Blue­jays and Wild­cats.

Against Creighton, Diallo notched his fifth dou­ble-dou­ble of the sea­son (18 points, 10 re­bounds) but was 4-of11 from the field and missed four of his 13 free throws. Against Vil­lanova, Diallo took only nine shots, made four, missed all three of his 3-point at­tempts, and went 2-of-5 from the foul line.

White fol­lowed up his 13-point performance on 6-of-11 shoot­ing against the Blue­jays with just one field goal in 21 min­utes against the Wild­cats. That same game saw him miss all four of his 3-point tries and go 2-of-4 from the char­ity stripe.

Over the past two games, Jack­son has at­tempted 21 shots with the ball nestling through the net just four times. It’s a stretch that in­cludes an un­sightly 0-for-9 from down­town.

New­com­ers of­fer prom­ise and the hope for a bet­ter to­mor­row, yet the David Dukes and Nate Wat­sons of the world can’t and shouldn’t be ex­pected to carry the load at this point in time. Those who have been around the Big East block the most times need to be­come much more ef­fi­cient.

“The older guys, they’ve been through the grind of the Big East. Our young guys, they’re still learn­ing,” said Coo­ley prior to the Fri­ars de­part­ing for Washington, D.C. “You only have X-amount of op­por­tu­ni­ties to win. We blew two great op­por­tu­ni­ties at home. Now we’re go­ing to have to try and make up some of this on the road.”

PC squads fea­tur­ing Jack­son, White, and Diallo on the ros­ter have yet to lose to Ge­orge­town (11-5, 1-2 Big East). Delv­ing deeper, the Fri­ars have won the last eight matchups against the Hoyas. The last time Ge­orge­town de­feated PC was 2014, back be­fore the Coo­ley-led Fri­ars be­gan string­ing to­gether NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances with reg­u­lar­ity.

“I’m pretty sure they’re go­ing to talk about it. I would if I was coach­ing that team,” said Coo­ley about PC’s re­cent mas­tery of Ge­orge­town. “At some point, they’re go­ing to get you. We just hope we play with a lit­tle more ur­gency. Our mind­set is go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant.”

At a time when clouds of des­per­a­tion hover over the program, the Fri­ars need much bet­ter pro­duc­tion from their vet­er­ans. Ev­ery­one else can fall in line.

Fol­low Bren­dan McGair on Twit­ter @BWMcGair03

File photo

Al­pha Diallo (11) is one of PC’s vet­er­ans who needs to step up with the Fri­ars win­less in con­fer­ence play with Ge­orge­town up next.

File photo

Maliek White (4) and the Prov­i­dence Fri­ars are in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal to play Ge­orge­town today at noon in a cru­cial Big East con­test.

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