It was an uplifting game for Musketeers fans Saturday afternoon. This game was a Big East shoot out between two teams that are trying to solidify their bids to the NCAA tournament. LaDonate Henton led the way with 24 points, but Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Bluiett both had 19 points a piece coming of the bench. When two players who come of the bench score almost twenty points each, that's almost ensuring a victory. Jalen Reynolds was dunking left and right and the game was truly a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, Providence's coach, Ed Cooley was rushed off the court at the beginning of the second half. He left with the trainer and was rushed to local hospital. It has been reported that Cooley had serious stomach pains and had difficulty breathing and that is all we know for the time being.
Here are three things we learned.
The health of a coach can have a large impact on a team.
In the first half, the Friars could do no wrong and were making every shot they took. They had a six point lead at the half and I had no doubt that the Friars were going to win the game. All the sudden Ed Cooley started to dip his head, and had a hard time standing up. He was immediately rushed out of the arena, and the game completely changed. Ed Cooley is, without a doubt, the face of Providence College basketball. He is the coach responsible for getting the Friars out of the dark days that former coach Keno Davis is still held responsible for. He is a top notch recruiter and holds an intimidating presence on the Providence sideline. His extreme passion for basketball was shown by his shouting match with Danny Hurley last year, and his last game against Georgetown when he said words I can't write in this article to the refs after a controversial call on Carson Desrosiers with 1:15 left in the game. Cooley is the modern day John Thompson in the Big East and his players seemed a little bit distracted for the rest of the game following his departure, and I don't blame them. Cooley is such an important figure for this team and it's only natural for his players to play with a distraction much bigger than the game they were currently playing. The Musketeers went on a 16-2 run and even though the Friars fought back, they did not come out of the game victorious.
The Friars need to learn to play in the clutch
Although I will excuse the Friars being initially shaken up by the departure of their coach from the game, I can not excuse the mistakes they made in crunch time. They didn't capitalize on open shots, and the turnovers they committed would end up costing them the game. There was one turnover where the Friars were down five with about a minute left in the game: Jalen Lindsey immediately stole the ball and passed it to Kris Dunn up the court. Dunn was trailed by Ben Bentil and Lindsey, and instead of passing the ball for an easy dunk, he tried to put the ball behind his back and take it to the hoop himself. Myles Davis stole the ball from him and that's when I knew the game was over. If Dunn passed the ball it would have been an easy dunk and who knows what the outcome of the game could have been.
Jalen Reynolds Is a future force in the Big East
Xavier sophomore Jalen Reynolds is going to be the next quality big man in the Big East. Jalen is 6-10 and 222 pounds of pure muscle and can bully his way into the paint against any team in the conference. Over the past three games he is averaging 18 points a game, and fans can tell his confidence is going through the roof. He got a season high 19 points and seven rebounds, and the poster dunk off the backboard didn't hurt either.