Three days after an unsettling loss to Northeastern in their season opener, the Friars knew that they had to turn things around rather quickly in order to get this season back on track.
Tuesday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, they did exactly that, beating the Dartmouth Big Green 100-82, improving to 1-1 on the season and giving new coach Keno Davis his first win as a Friar coach.
After inconsistent play on Saturday, several Friars stepped it up last night. However, one player stood head and shoulders over the rest.
Sophomore Marshon Brooks led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds, both career highs, while adding three blocks. His long wingspan suits him well on the defensive side of the ball, and Coach Davis will certainly use him at any position at any given time, given his tenacity and effort.
For the second straight game, Brooks was the hardest-working player on the court and was rewarded for his efforts. Brooks slammed home a missed shot and then hit a three-pointer the next possession, getting fouled in the process and converting the four-point play.
Coach Davis sang Brooks' praise last night, saying, "What's going to be tough for other teams to match up with us is when Marshon plays. He can play any position. We've played him anywhere from the off-guard to the center position already. We could play very small or we could play bigger. His versatility and ability to go in and mix it up with offensive rebounding, yet be able to shoot it with good percentage, is going to make him an outstanding player for us."
Last night was also about improving on some negatives that doomed the Friars against Northeastern, namely missing big free throws and turning the ball over needlessly. On Saturday the Friars were lackluster from the free throw line and committed too many turnovers, but last night they went 31-46 from the line and had 15 turnovers, forcing 17 from Dartmouth.
What was most impressive, however, was Coach Davis' eight-man rotation, in which all the players in the rotation played at least 20 minutes. Because of this quick rotation, the scoring was spread out pretty evenly, and seven of the eight players had at least 10 points.
Randall Hanke had a good game, dropping 16 points on 6-7 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds. Sharaud Curry and Jeff Xavier got it going early, and both had more points in the first half of last night's game than in the loss to the Huskies.
The Friars started the game on a 19-5 run, thanks to an effective full court press that forced some turnovers from Dartmouth, but let that lead slip away. However, the Big Green were never able to take advantage of Friar miscues and did not lead once in the contest.
By the end of the game, Coach Davis put in his walk-on players and the game was all but over, giving him his first win for Providence.
Sophomore Alex Kellogg, who missed Saturday's game with a knee injury, warmed up but did not see any action. Jamine Peterson was in street clothes and freshman Bilal Dixon did not play, as both will most likely be redshirted this season to give Keno Davis more depth come next year, when he will lose several seniors.
The Friars have two more home games this week, hosting Sacred Heart on Thursday and then Maine on Saturday.