Dunkin' Donuts Center -- Literally
As the raucous crowd of PC students lined up in back of me over the waning couple of minutes of the Friars' 81-66 romp over UConn, I did my best to box out a few Jersey Shore-wannabes looming over press row.
It might have been the best box-out of the night by anyone from Connecticut.
The Huskies were outrebounded tonight, 53-38. Even worse, a whopping 24 of the Friars' boards were on the offensive end.
"That never happens to our teams," associate head coach George Blaney bemoaned.
Well ... certainly not to this extent, though UConn was outrebounded 56-43 by Duke (and 25 of the Blue Devils' boards were offensive). And the Huskies have been beaten on the boards several other times this season, occasionally by far less-athletic opponents.
Here's a few other numbers that stick out from the Huskies's loss:
9: Number of Providence dunks, giving new meaning to the name Dunkin' Donuts Center.
24: Number of PC 3-point attempts, 17 of them in the first half. The Friars' philosophy -- "When in doubt, toss up a trey." They only hit five of them, but they coralled a host of long rebounds that were converted into points.
19: Number of UConn turnovers, 13 of them in the first half. Also UConn's AP ranking -- at least until Monday, when its sure to fall.
101: Average number of points PC had allowed in its prior two games, both losses (including a home gag-job to South Florida).
1: Number of UConn points over a 7-minute, 11-second span in the latter half, during which the Friars scored 18. UConn hit one of four free throws and failed to hit a field goal over that span, after having taken a 58-55 lead with 9:35 to go on a Stanley Robinson baseline jumper that capped an 8-0 run.
0: Points by Ater Majok in 19 minutes of action. Also the number of field goals from Alex Oriakhi (3 points). Gavin Edwards (17 points) was UConn's only answer in the paint.
1 (again): The giant step back UConn took tonight on the heels of its emotional win over then-No. 1 Texas on Saturday at Gampel.
"All that we worked for is kind of pointless right now," said Jerome Dyson, "to come here and lose as bad as we did."
"I think this is a huge step back on our part," a dejected Gavin Edwards added. "I'm not trying to downplay Providence at all, but this is definitely a game we should have won and needed to win. We let it slip away and didn't play as hard as we needed to … it's just frustrating."
***So, for all you Blaney-philes (and believe me, I think he's a terrific coach): Would such poor effort and execution over the final nine minutes have happened if Jim Calhoun were on the sidelines? Even Blaney doesn't think so.
"He would have given them a jolt, I'll tell you that," Blaney admitted. "I would have liked to have had him there tonight, that's for sure."
Edwards wasn't as convinced.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't know how well some people would have reacted if coach was kicking and screaming."
***Dyson (3-for-14 shooting, five turnovers) was doing his best Alfred E. Newman impression afterwards after being asked if the team is worried with postseason play just over a month away.
"I'm not concerned," Dyson insisted. "We have the talent to do it, it's just that we're playing 10 minutes at a time, and then off for five minutes. We're giving up too many points when we're taking a break, and we shouldn't be taking a break at all. That's what's killing us right now. We've shown that we can play with anybody, it's just all about playing a game all the way through. If we keep giving teams 10-0 runs, 12-0 runs, it's going to make it difficult for us to get wins. It's all up to us."