Enough is enough. The Providence Friars lost for the fifth time in their last six games. Someone needs to stop this bleeding. That someone should be the head coach. Instead, this once very promising season is dying a slow death.
Providence lost on Thursday to the resurgent Seton Hall Pirates, 70-52. The Friars trailed by as much as 21 with 11:16 left in the game. That’s when Ben Bentil took the team on his shoulders. Bentil scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half before leaving the game following a Flagrant 2 foul with 3:11 remaining in the game. The Friars had closed the gap to eight, but without Bentil, and with Kris Dunn fighting an illness, Providence had no chance.
Providence again got off to a slow start. After ten minutes, the Friars were down by nine.
The Friars missed their first fifteen three-pointers until Ben Bentil hit one with 12:25 remaining in the game. Bentil would go on to hit four three-pointers. His teammates would go 0-for-14.
Jalen Lindsey would play 30 minutes. He scored two points and again missed both his three-point shots attempted. Rodney Bullock, the team’s third-leading scorer, inexplicably, only took two shots.
The team often was beaten to loose balls and rebounds. Seton Hall out-rebounded PC, 45-31.
At what point does the finger have to begin pointing in the direction of head coach Ed Cooley? The time might be now.
When a team comes out sluggish, night-in and night-out, that’s on the head coach. When a team can’t find shots for it’s third leading scorer, that’s on the head coach. When a team is allowed to throw up limitless three-pointers when they are far-and-away the worst three-point shooting team in the Big East, that is on the head coach. When players like Lindsey, Drew Edwards, and Junior Lomomba are regressing, that is on the head coach.
Too many times the offense has come down to handing the ball to Kris Dunn and let him dribble around and try to create something. If he runs into trouble, find Bentil. Everyone else on the team stands around waiting for a loose ball.
That worked fine for the first couple months of the season, but when teams began double-teaming Dunn, or switching to 1-3-1 zones, Cooley had no answers. Cooley needs to find ways to get more motion into his offense. He needs to find ways to get more players involved. He needs to get the team to run more.
The season is quickly slipping away. It is up to Ed Cooley to come up with better strategies than trying to decide when is the right time to take his suit jacket off. This team needs an X’s-and-O’s coach. They need a leader. Cooley is in danger of having this team tune him out. Maybe they already have.