NEW YORK – Providence is headed to the Big East title game for the first time since 1994. Back then, the Friars captured the championship under the tutelage of Rick Barnes. The Friars held off Seton Hall in the semifinal opener at Madison Square Garden on Friday evening.
A look at the numbers for some insights:
Possessions: Seton Hall 66, Providence 65 (a moderate tempo)
Offensive efficiency: Providence 123, Seton Hall 112
The key factor(s): Providence shot a blistering 59 percent eFG percentage. The Friars enjoyed a 75 percent free throw rate. It all added to a situation of getting good shots, converting and/or drawing fouls. Interestingly, Seton Hall enjoyed a 40-18 advantage in points in the paint. That is something Providence mentor Ed Cooley is certain to address before Saturday’s final.
For the time being, Cooley was content to reelect on the achievement his club just fashioned on the Garden floor. “We had foul trouble,” Cooley said. “But we responded when we had to with kids in ( foul) trouble.”
Providence put three players in double figures, paced by LaDontae Henton, whom Cooley calls a “man child.” Bryce Cotton added 18 and Tyler Harris 17. “Looking back we have been led by seniors (such as Cotton, Henton and Kadeem Batts),” Cooley said.
“What impressed me was the way they handle themselves not just as played but as men.”
Providence is now 22-11. Seton Hall ends its run here at 17-17. There is post season talk, but Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said they were probably out of the question. The collective team health is the major concern. “They (NIT, CBI and CIT) are good tournaments and well run,” Willard said. “Right now with my seniors where they are, getting them healthy is my firs priority.”