Rushed Reactions: Providence 79, St. John’s 74Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on March 13th, 2014
Brian Otskey will be reporting from the Big East Tournament all week.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Providence is alive. St. John’s, not so much. With the win today, Providence lives to see another day. I’m not quite sure that the Friars are in the field of 68 just yet, but they get another opportunity for a win tomorrow night. However, that win would have to come against Seton Hall, a sub-100 RPI team. Now we know the Pirates are not a bad team, but a loss to them would qualify as a “bad” loss on Providence’s NCAA resume. The Friars surely don’t want to lose that one and put themselves in jeopardy with a chance to win their way into the NCAA Tournament. As for St. John’s, it is the unfortunate loser of what was likely an NCAA elimination game. With 12 losses on its resume and not many quality wins to boot, the Red Storm appear to be NIT-bound. Still, it has been a remarkable turnaround for a team that started 0-5 in conference play.
- It was important for Providence to show it can win without a strong Bryce Cotton performance. Cotton, the star Friars senior, struggled to the tune of a 1-of-10 shooting night and yet the Friars still held a comfortable advantage for most of the game. Cotton made up for that by getting to the line 13 times (making 10), but it was certainly not a dominant game for him. It was interesting to note that Cotton played “only” 34 minutes, his lowest game total since playing 32 minutes against Vermont on November 18. The good news for Providence? Cotton isn’t likely to shoot this poorly tomorrow night, and as an additional bonus, should be relatively well-rested.
- Free throw shooting continues to serve Providence well. The Friars are the No. 2 team in free throw shooting nationally and Carson Desrosiers’ clutch makes at the end of the game sealed this win. For the game, the Friars got to the free throw line 30 times, making 22. When you can get to the line that often (specifically Cotton), great free throw shooting can be a lethal weapon. It quells runs and seals games in the final minute. If Providence does end up in the NCAA Tournament next week, don’t be surprised if it wins a game based on free throw shooting alone.
Star of the Game: Josh Fortune, Providence. Fortune scored a game-high 24 points and showed great toughness in quickly returning from a nasty collision late in the game. He isn’t the focal point of Providence’s offense, but he stepped up on a night when Cotton wasn’t the typical Cotton.
- “If you had told me Bryce would be 1-for-10 and 0-for-4 from the three-point line and we’d be sitting here [after a win], I’d be lying to you.” – Providence head coach Ed Cooley, on overcoming Bryce Cotton’s off day.
- “If you watch the quality of play in this league, it’s pretty special.” – St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin, on the Big East.
- “We played them twice during the season. We know how they play and what they want to do or don’t want to do. We have to go in there focused with a game plan.” – Providence’s Josh Fortune, on tomorrow night’s game against Seton Hall.
Sights and Sounds: Game two of the afternoon session wasn’t as exciting throughout, but the crowd really got into it in the final few minutes as St. John’s closed the gap and put the result in doubt. St. John’s fans were here, but not in the numbers that some expected. Providence had a great turnout amongst both alumni and students. While the first game was an instant classic, the second certainly did not disappoint. It was a great afternoon of hoops and you would never know the conference underwent such a seismic shift in membership from being at the Garden today.
- Providence advances to the Big East semifinals for the first time since 1997, where it will take on upstart Seton Hall. No matter what happens, either the Friars or the Pirates will be in the Big East championship game for the first time in 20 years — when Providence won it all in 1994.
- St. John’s will rest up and sweat it out for the next 72 hours before finding out its postseason fate on Sunday evening’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show.