When Providence coach Ed Cooley was asked why he decided to play zone against the best offense in college Basketball his answer was simple:
“Because I’m crazy.”
One had to feel a little crazy themselves when watching the game early on. It’s hard to imagine that the same high scoring offense lead by Doug ‘McBuckets’ McDermott was the same team who came out half asleep to start this Title game.
Anemic would be the best way to sum up Creighton’s first half–going a woeful 1-for-12 from behind the arc, and then limped into halftime recording a season low 17 points to show for their non-efforts.
While it would be all too easy to lay the blame on Creighton for playing out of character, the credit has to go to Providence’s merits from the start of the Tournament. It’s been a humbling season which paved the road for tonight, a night which has taken too long for the small school. After struggling in the first few games of the Tournament Bryce Cotton broke through and got his swagger back helping the Friars to get off to a ferocious start in the second half, where they pulled away by double digits.
“Even when we had the big lead, I knew they were going to come up with a couple runs, I’ve watched them all year and that’s just the kind of team they are. And we’ve been through plenty of intense games throughout the whole season so I felt that that prepared us for a game like this.”
Cotton scored 23 points and was named Most Outstanding Player for his performance tonight. After the game Coach Cooley spoke glowingly of his players for coming together and clicking at the right time. Providence has no need now to dread Selection Sunday as this victory has them placed nicely for whatever may come their way. But the beauty of the Tournament is that there are no easy ways out, for this Providence team that’s been fighting an uphill battle for over a decade just to get into the Dance, then tonight quelling the ‘new kids’ on the block in Creighton, anything is very much possible.
Creighton comes off this loss having no time to think about holding down their heads. What they achieved their first season in the Big East was just the beginning of what has the makings to still be a miracle season. Fix the mistakes made and do what they do best, that’s the mantra that Coach McDermott preached:
“As we talked in the locker room after the game, I think the highlight of our season is yet to come. As much as it stings right now, the best is yet to come for us. This is where we wanted to be, to be able to celebrate on Selection Sunday, and we’re in a position where we can do that now.”
The best still lays ahead of both teams. Each team comes in with their own tale of their road to the Tournament, it’s how they play when there that matters.
An amazing 4 days at Madison Square Garden with brilliant college hoops filling the days. This realigned Big East will take much getting used to, but it’s off to a great start.
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