-Beat Providence. The Pirates (18-11, 9-9) did just that tonight, improving their conference record to 9-9, finishing at .500 for the first time since they finished 9-7 in 2005-2006. That year, they made the NCAA Tournament. Will this year's squad do the same? The BET stands in the way, but the future is looking a lot brighter right now than it was last Sunday. They'll need to defeat Providence again on Tuesday night in the first round of the BET tournament to remain on the bubble. Should the Pirates win Tuesday, they would face Notre Dame on Wednesday night in what may very well determine their postseason fate. Although their fate may be decided Wednesday (should they get there), their postseason legitimately began against Rutgers on Thursday. The Pirates have stepped up, spoiling back-to-back senior days, which is far from an easy task in the Big East Conference regardless of who you're playing.
The one thing I'm worried about right now is overconfidence. I'd like to believe Bobby will have his squad ready on Tuesday, making sure his players quickly forget about tonight's outcome. Tonight's game means absolutely nothing if they falter on Tuesday. Providence, on the other hand, will only be playing for pride in the BET, whereas the Pirates are playing for a postseason berth. You'd like to believe that overconfidence wouldn't be an issue given the circumstances, but after beating PC in their house, on senior day, by 12 points, I'm going to worry.
-A great all around team effort by the Pirates tonight, who at one point, were on the verge of putting PC away early in the first half. Leading by 14 with just 3 minutes remaining in the first half, the Friars reeled off an 8-0 run as the closing seconds ticked off of the clock. Just as it seemed that Providence would take all the momentum into the locker room at halftime, the Pirates had one last possession.
Eugene Harvey dribbled the ball to around mid-court and let close to 20 seconds milk off of the clock before penetrating into the heart of the defense. Two defenders collapsed on him, believing he would put up a contested layup. Instead, Harvey wrapped the ball behind a defender's back and found JT who finished for a reverse layup. The well executed play gave the Pirates an 8 point lead heading into intermission, but more importantly the play deflated a PC team who had just put together a nice run in the closing minutes.
-Gonzo Ball to Jordan Theodore, who continues to break out and has really stepped up his play as of late. JT finished with 21PTS on 6-of-9 shooting, he set a career high with 8AST, shot 8-of-8 from the stripe while adding 2REB/2STL and only committed one turnover. Very impressive play from the sophomore as he even outscored the Pirates leading scorer Jeremy Hazell, by one point.
-Jeremy Hazell finished with 18PTS/5REB on 7-of-14 shooting. Jeremy shot the ball a little better tonight, despite just shooting 2-of-6 from 3PT distance. It was the second consecutive game where Hazell had at least 5REB, as he's made a concentrated to get involved more on the glass.
-Eugene Harvey was rather impressive tonight with 12PTS/4AST on 4-of-5 shooting, despite turning the ball over three times. Harvey finished strong on his drives throughout the night, once even after receiving contact and picking up the AND-1 foul.
-Herb Pope dropped his second straight double-double with 13PTS/11REB/5BLK. Pope was everywhere tonight on both sides of the basketball. It looks like his new double-double streak has begun after going 2 months without one. Tired legs? No.
-Robert Mitchell was also perfect from the stripe, 8-of-8 and finished with 14PTS.
-Jeff Robinson was the final Pirate to finish in double figures with 10PTS after sitting the majority of the first half after picking up a quick two fouls.
-Vincent Council led the Friars with 25PTS on 9-of-16 shooting.
-As a team, Providence only shot 38.5%, whereas the Pirates were good on 51% of their shot attempts.
See you Tuesday, Providence.
...Much more to come in tomorrow's morning after post.