Rushed Reactions: Providence 80, Seton Hall 74Posted by Brian Otskey on March 14th, 2014
Brian Otskey will be reporting from the Big East Tournament all week.
Three key takeaways.
- Providence was simply the better team. After the teams traded baskets for the first six minutes, Providence opened the game up with a quick 12-0 run and never really looked back. Seton Hall never led again and Providence kept the Pirates at arm’s length for the majority of the game. There were multiple sequences throughout this game where Seton Hall would miss a jump shot and Providence would make one on the next possession. It was that simple, as the Friars thoroughly outplayed the Pirates en route to their first conference championship game since 1994 when they beat Georgetown.
- Providence had fresh legs and played outstanding defense. When Ed Cooley showed zone, his team executed the game plan very well. Fresh Friars’ legs allowed the zone to rotate flawlessly and track Seton Hall’s perimeter shooters all game long. The Pirates finished the game 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) from the three-point line, a team that makes 36.1 percent on average. It was the difference in the game as Providence was able to make Seton Hall incredibly stagnant on offense for the better part of the night. Three-point defense had been a strength for Cooley’s team in conference play, and it vaulted them to a win tonight.
- NCAA ticket punched? Providence will not have to worry about the bubble if it wins tomorrow night, but is a run to the Big East Championship game enough on its own? One would think so. The Friars have played extremely well down the stretch after a midseason lull. Aside from a double-overtime loss to league champion Villanova and a setback at Creighton on Doug McDermott’s senior night, Providence has taken care of business in every game since losing four out of five games in early February. While the resume remains light on quality wins, one would think Providence has done enough to warrant a bid, especially when compared to other bubble teams throughout the nation.
Star of the Game: LaDontae Henton, Providence. Look no further than Henton when searching for reasons why Providence is playing for the Big East title tomorrow night. The lefty wing filled up the stat sheet with 26 points and 14 rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting. Seton Hall never had an answer for him and Henton made his name known in front of a big crowd and a national TV audience. This is a guy that needs more publicity as he has been productive in every season at Providence. He is a big time breakout candidate as a senior in 2014-15.
- “He plays every minute God created this year. God bless him, he’s done a great job.” – Ed Cooley on Bryce Cotton (39.9 MPG).
- “Providence College was here with a purpose.” – Cooley, when asked if there was any concern about playing a Seton Hall team with nothing to lose.
- “You can’t be tired when you’re playing for a championship. You can be tired at the end of the season when you’re on vacation.” — Cooley, when asked if fatigue could be a problem tomorrow night.
- “We went over some stuff [zone offense] this morning but it wasn’t enough to attack it effectively.” – Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard on Providence’s zone, which held the Pirates in check.
Sights and Sounds. The crowd was late arriving to MSG but filled in nicely, probably peaking at about 15,000+ fans in the seats. It seemed the non-partisan fans were rooting for underdog Seton Hall, while both the Friars and Pirates fans turned out in solid numbers. This tournament may have changed, but there is still a great buzz for a semifinal Friday night.
- Providence advances to tomorrow night’s final game, the program’s first in 20 years. If the Friars do not win, they will anxiously await the Selection Show on Sunday evening to find out their fate. With a win, there will be no sweating whatsoever in Rhode Island and PC’s seed should take a jump from where it is currently projected.
- For Seton Hall, there is an outside chance it will receive an NIT bid because of some quality wins this year, but the Pirates’ RPI is such an anchor to their chances of receiving a call. After the game, Kevin Willard said they would decline an invitation to any of the “other” tournaments, so Seton Hall’s season is over unless the NIT comes calling on Sunday.