This was one of the worst losses in the Kevin Willard era, bar-none. And it came at the wrong time, to the wrong opponent, and had repercussions that could affect the rest of the season.
Here are my thoughts on yesterday's brutal defeat:
- No Handouts
Providence deserved to win this game. Period. Right from the opening tip, the Friars, who don't have a ton of depth, completely outclassed the Pirates in every way, ENERGY being the most glaring and obvious one. Meanwhile, the Pirates bumbled about on offense, couldn't even catch the basketball on multiple possessions, and left the crowd wondering what in the world they were seeing.
Fittingly, all of the hustle stats (offensive rebounding, second-chance points, points off turnovers) were in Providence's favor, and it wasn't even close. A 15-turnover performance turned into 16 points off those mistakes in the first half. That ended up being 20 points off 17 total turnovers, so give the Pirates credit for a smarter second half.
But the most telling was this: 22 offensive rebounds leading to 23 second-chance points. The Friars had more offensive rebounds than DEFENSIVE rebounds, and that should never, ever happen. Consider this: Providence missed 39 shots in this game. Those offensive boards they got represents an offensive rebounding percentage of OVER FIFTY PERCENT. A 40% O-Reb. rate is considered very good.
Oh, and by the way, the Friars got 8 offensive boards from LaDontae Henton alone. That tied the Pirates' high rebounder on the day in total boards.
Did I mention that player was Kyle Smyth?
Back to the drawing board we go.
- No Breaks
The Pirates lost Brandon Mobley in this game after 7 minutes with a dislocated shoulder, the same shoulder that he had surgery on last season that forced him to miss the first month or so. This is not good at all if it ends up being serious. We will know more pending the MRI results from today, but if Mobley needs surgery again, he'll be done for the year.
Seton Hall has been snake-bitten by injuries this season. Accepting that fact, as difficult as it is, is the only way to rationalize this. I don't remember a Pirates team that has had this many significant problems in terms of injuries to key guys. Everyone needs to pray that the MRI comes back with good news.
Brian Oliver is out of the boot and slated to return next week, so that should help, but injuries suck.
- Gold Stars
Thank goodness for Haralds Karlis. He came off the bench to provide energy, and he did provide it in spurts. His 11 points off the bench in what has to be a career-high 34 minutes was encouraging, as was his smooth-looking free throw stroke (5-7). If Mobley needs to miss time, it's Karlis that will fill the void (and it is a void) at power forward until Oliver can get back on the court. Karlis said he's excited about finally getting to play some more minutes, and if he can rebound some more, he has a chance to really impress the coaching staff.
Also, let's give a hand to Aaron Geramipoor. He scored a point! No, I'm kidding of course, but for a guy who hadn't seen the floor in over a month, he played 12 minutes, which is probably about 10 more than he was scheduled to play. He wasn't spectacular, but he battled through.
- No shooting?
Something I noticed about Aaron Cosby's struggles of late is that teams are really starting to key on him along with Fuquan Edwin (who had a quietly good day of 17 PTS, 7 REB, 2 BLK and 2 STL). Cosby hasn't hit a three in what seems like forever, and I think it's because he senses that the Pirates need him to lead the team even more with all these injuries. He's playing admirably in terms of ball-handling, but his shooting has gone by the wayside as a result, and that's Cosby's best attribute as a player.
In my humble opinion, starting Tom Maayan and moving Cosby to an off-guard position could remedy this. It would give Cosby a chance to get a couple shots up before his legs get tired, and could get him going quicker. The Pirates were most successful yesterday when both he and Maayan were on the floor in a small unit that featured 4 guards.
- No post-ups.
Providence had no shot at defending Gene Teague one-on-one. So after the opening possession, the Friars doubled him, and doubled him effectively before Teague could even read the floor to find the open man. Teague's been a huge part of the Pirates' success all year, so it's tough to get on him but the Friars forced him towards the baseline with their doubles, forcing Teague to make a decision under a virtual triple team, resulting in quite a few turnovers. He just has to do a better job of being mentally quicker with the ball.