Heading into this season, much of the talk was on Kris Dunn, the Providence College Friars' talented guard and preseason favorite for Player of the Year honors.
Well tonight, Dunn & Co. got their season underway as PC played host to the Harvard Crimson at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Harvard was looking for a strong start as well, as the Crimson, under the guidance of Tommy Amaker, were looking to build off of and continue their successes after stringing together a few consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
In the end, it was the Friars who pulled off the victory over Harvard by the score of 76-64, thanks in part to the stellar play of Kris Dunn as well as Rodney Bullock, who emerged for the Friars this game with the possibility of becoming their number two scoring option in the coming weeks.
Dunn was the star everyone expected him to be despite getting off to a slow start in the first half. He'd get on a roll though in the second, helping to push Providence ahead for good. In the end the New London, Connecticut finished with 32 points -- a new career-high -- and an excellent way to start the season as well. He also had eight steals in the game, a contributing factor to Harvard's 22 turnovers and the 27 points that PC got off of those turnovers.
For Dunn though he was a force in the game, something that was apparent to coach Tommy Amaker who in the postgame discussed the difficulties with stopping him.
"We're limited with in what we can do," Amaker said. "Especially in moving the ball around to different players, which you're right, he's disruptive as a player. And to me that's one of the aspects of his game that I haven't heard a lot of people talk about. But obviously he is sensational in every facet. His defense is really what I think can separate him and set him apart."
Dunn's performance was followed up by the sophomore forward Bullock, who had 20 points and looked like the secondary scoring option that the Friars need for this season.
The Friars also saw significant contributions from Ben Bentil under the rim snagging 11 rebounds, and freshman Ryan Fazekas who alotted 10 points.
Amaker's Harvard did put up a tough fight though as Corey Johnson lead the way with 17 points, and was followed up with a double-double performance by Zena Edosomwan who had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
They were also able to use their bench to good effect for much of the game with 13 points off the bench compared to Providence's seven bench points. It would prove to not be enough though, as turnovers would do the Crimson in.
In the post game, head coach Ed Cooley was extremely enthused about his team's play.
"We're pretty excited to play today, you know we've been going at now for about seven weeks," Cooley said. "We had exhibition games and a you know a closed-door scrimmage. Some of our first-year guys were able to get on the floor and get some experience."
"I was really proud of how hard our kids play, knowing we made some mental mistakes. But I thought for 40 minutes we played really, really hard and you gotta give the guys a lot of credit for that," he said. "The second half, we were able to go on a couple of mini runs to kind of control the game. Both Kris and Rodney made some big time shots, big time plays and overall I thought it was a really good first outing for a team that has never played together in front of a crowd like that. So kudos to us for our first win, but we got a long way to go happy what they did today and hope to continue to improve."
For Bullock who had a great game, he remarked, "It felt great being back out there and was the best feeling in the world."
When asked if he was expected to play this well right away, Cooley interrupted with an emphatic yes to the question, seemingly knowing what Bullock can bring to this team.
Though Dunn and Bullock had great game, BECB's very own Mike Hopkins asked Coach Cooley if these were to the two guys who would be up there with him all the time for the presser. Coach responded emphatically with, "No this is a team game. There will be other guys here. Our guys got to get comfortable in different roles, everybody is in a different role right now... But these guys you know they're going to have big games and big nights but there are going to be other players on this podium, tonight was just their night."
Harvard put up a good fight for the Friars in their first game of the season, and look poised heading into their next match up. For the time being it looks to be that Kris Dunn has hit the ground running and Providence has a secondary scoring option.
Next Game: The Friars (1-0) take on the Illinois Fightin' Illini Wednesday night.