It was as if the Hoyas played the first half in a funk left over from their previous two losses, then somewhere early in the second half realized they were the better team.
You saw it late in the first, actually, when they started handling the Providence press better (the way to handle the press is to not get rattled by it, and these Hoyas are not easily rattled) and snapping off some pretty backdoor cuts.
But the best thing about this game, from the Hoya perspective, was what Jason Clark and Henry Sims did off the bench.
Hoyas have been having big problems with depth this year, and this was the first time these two guys looked like smooth, relaxed parts of the offensive and defensive schemes. Maybe it had to do with the extra playing time they got as a result of the Summers/Wright/Sapp foul trouble, but it was nifty to watch them making contributions and not playing as tentatively as they had been in their limited time.
Both of those guys are freshman, and obviously need more seasoning. (Sims had three fouls in 14 minutes! And how about dunking that ball down low instead of trying to lay it in? If I were 6-10 I'd dunk EVERY SINGLE TIME.) But it's important that they know somebody can come off the bench and actually play the game, rather than suck up minutes and hope they don't get too far behind. Today, when Summers went out with his fourth foul, they actually extended their lead. That's a good sign.
Still just 11 offensive boards, but they did outrebound the Friars for the game, and it's about baby steps right now with the rebounding. What we saw today in the second half was toughness and desire, and they're going to need that in bushels next Wednesday and Saturday.
-Absolutely loving Greg Monroe. Complete package. Can't remember a freshman big man who could (or would) pass like this.
-Marshawn Brooks is going to be a problem. The guy can do a lot of things.
-In fact, I think the Providence team could give some of the top teams problems if they're not careful. They have a lot of good players. Brooks and Efejuku are hyper-athletic. If they hit their shots, they might take down a Big East frontrunner or two by the time it's all over.
-The kid that sat in on the ESPNU broadcast -- a Georgetown senior named Matt Rabinowitz -- was clearly nervous and quiet in the early going, but he hit his stride nicely when it was his turn to do the play-by-play and did a better job than I could have. Man, if they'd only had a program like that in 1994...