Providence Offense is Too Reliant on Kyron Cartwright

Posted by Justin Kundrat on February 21st, 2018

As mentioned in Rush the Court‘s season preview on Providence, the key question for Ed Cooley‘s group was whether it could break into the Big East’s upper echelon. The optimistic stance was that a senior-laden group coming off of three consecutive NCAA Tournaments with one of the best point guards in the nation in Kyron Cartwright was bound to turn the corner and take up residence in the Top 25. And yet the Friars, plagued by inconsistency this season, have fallen short. With a 17-10 (8-6 Big East) record heading into tonight’s game against Seton Hall, a fourth straight trip to the Dance seems likely despite a sputtering offense that has frustrated everyone associated with the program. The search for an offensive solution extends in a number of different directions, but it ultimately stops with the play of the Providence seniors. A look under the hood — especially at Cartwright’s offensive production — reveals a team that struggles to effectively score against quality competition. The senior’s shooting figures, in particular, are at a career-high mark, but his performance against top 50 opponents drops considerably.

The above table compares the difference in Cartwright’s KenPom Offensive Rating, effective field goal percentage, and assist rate against top 50 opponents versus the entire regular season. In other words, his junior year Offensive Rating was two percent better in top 50 match-ups (104.9) than throughout the full season (102.6). Player performance should naturally decline against better competition, but Cartwright performed slightly better against those outfits during his junior season. The troubling trend here, however, is the noticeable drop-off that his offensive efficiency has suffered this year against good competition — a 17 percent drop in Offensive Rating, six percent drop in effective field goal percentage and a nominal drop in assist rate. Because of its league-best defense, Providence doesn’t need 20 points per game from Cartwright to be successful, but it desperately needs additional sources of efficient scoring in those key top 50 match-ups.

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Ben Bentil Has Morphed Providence Into a Contender

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 11th, 2016

It’s been a tumultuous season for Providence, one in which expectations have been adjusted and then readjusted seemingly every other game. Ed Cooley‘s team started the season well off the national radar but quickly climbed into the top 10 after several impressive wins before fading down the stretch. Tertiary players such as Rodney Bullock, Ryan Fazekas and Jalen Lindsey have demonstrated scoring abilities at various points this season, but each has been inconsistent. Meanwhile, junior star Kris Dunn has struggled with both illness and foul trouble; at times, both his minutes and productivity have been limited. All of these conditions could have left Cooley’s young squad without little in the way of offensive options, but that hasn’t materialized — for one big reason. Sophomore Ben Bentil has emerged in this offensive vacuum to lead the Providence, and in fact, the entire conference, in scoring. The Big East’s most improved player has earned loads of respect for his talent, but in most cases, that hasn’t translated into containment.

Ben Bentil Poured In 38 On Butler Last Night (Photo: USAT Sports)

Ben Bentil Poured In 38 Points To Help Providence Defeat Butler Last Night (Photo: USAT Sports)

Thursday’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal with Butler offered a perfect demonstration of the matchup nightmare Bentil has become. Too big for Butler’s wing players and too quick for its big men, the sophomore produced a near record-setting Big East Tournament performance: 38 points, seven rebounds and five made three-pointers. “From the beginning of the season, coach told me I’m going to be a match-up nightmare. I let that sink in. I did. I tried to take advantage of whoever was put on me, I tried to make the best out of it,” Bentil said after the game.

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