Woonsocket Call

Smith provides promise in ugly loss to DePaul

- By BRENDAN McGAIR bmcgair@pawtuckett­imes.com

We could revisit everything that went wrong Tuesday night at Allstate Arena, and there was plenty as Providence took one on the chin in a 77-70 loss against DePaul, one of the Big East’s supposed bottom feeders.

Since our mood re f lec t s Punxsutawn­ey Phil’s prediction of an early spring, let’s see if we can find some sunshine on a cloudy day. Certainly it was nice to see freshman Ryan Fazekas flash his long-range shooting stroke – he made three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points.

Since Ben Bentil reportedly suffered an ankle injury that limited him to just 14 minutes and the Friars got whitewashe­d in the rebounding department (48-26 in favor of the Blue Demons), the fact that freshman Quadree Smith strung together a productive stat line shouldn’t be overlooked. Displaying a nice touch around the rim, he netted a career-best seven points in 11 minutes.

With the extent of Bentil’s injury still murky at best – he suffered a similar setback against Boston College on Dec. 9 and returned to the lineup the next time PC took the court – the emergence of Smith against DePaul represents a positive developmen­t for a Friar outfit that’s short on low-post options.

True, Smith didn’t corral a single rebound Tuesday night, yet when Kyron Cartwright ends up being your second leading rebounder, it’s simply best to say it was a rough night all around.

The latest “Friar Film Review” takes a closer look at Smith, who in his second game back from a month’s absence due to a broken hand, showed signs that maybe Providence can get some interior offense from someone other than Bentil.

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Ironically, Smith replaced Bentil in the lineup at the 13:50 mark of the first half. The Friars scored on the first offensive possession that he was out there with Smith setting a screen that gave Kris Dunn a clear lane to thread a pass that led to a 3-pointer in the corner from Junior Lomomba.

At 6-foot-8 and 285 pounds, Smith holds the promise of serving as a major asset when it comes to setting picks as part of the Friars’ flex offense. It also suffices to say that there’s probably not too many opposing Big East players looking forward to the prospect of fighting through a screen with Smith as the originator.

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While Smith’s first of three baskets was the result of a two-man game with Dunn, the sight of Smith running out to contest a three by DePaul’s Myke Henry at 12:01 of the first half shows just how many moving parts exists within the Friars’ defense. You might be branded a big guy in Ed Cooley’s system, but that doesn’t excuse you from not switching to check someone out on the perimeter, which Smith successful­ly did as Henry came up empty.

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Smith’s box out of DePaul’s Rashaun Stimage enabled Dunn to swoop in for the board and push the tempo before Lomomba hit a foul-line jumper at 11:12 of the first half. It was an end result that wouldn’t have been possible had Smith not – to borrow from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick – done his job.

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Clearly not a decoy, the Friars featured some offensive sets with Smith receiving touches. He missed a layup after taking a pass from Dunn, yet Providence went right back to him on the next possession. PC’s Cartwright was on the money with his pass and Smith finished strong after getting bumped by DePaul’s Henry.

Smith completed the inside 3-point play to make it 26-23 DePaul with 9:39 left in the opening half. The first-year Friar remained on the floor until the 6:34 mark, ending a stint that lasted seven-plus minutes.

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It was Smith, not Dunn or Bentil, who ended the Blue Demons’ 11-0 run that enabled the home team to surge ahead by a 51-43 count with 14:25 left in the contest. Catching the ball on the right elbow after setting a screen for Dunn, Smith gave it one hard dribble before gathering himself for a baby hook in the face of two DePaul defenders.

Though it was a night for Providence to forget, the sight of Smith being active in a multitude of areas stood out and offers promise in reference to his role moving forward.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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 ?? File photo by Louriann Mardo-Zayat / lmzartwork­s.com ?? Providence College freshman forward Quadree Smith (10), in just his second game back from an injury that kept him out for over a month, scored a career-high seven points in 13 minutes in Tuesday’s ugly road loss to struggling DePaul.
File photo by Louriann Mardo-Zayat / lmzartwork­s.com Providence College freshman forward Quadree Smith (10), in just his second game back from an injury that kept him out for over a month, scored a career-high seven points in 13 minutes in Tuesday’s ugly road loss to struggling DePaul.

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