Friars in need of Big East win
Providence heads to Georgetown winless in conference play
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.
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.
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.