Turkey Day Will Be Sweet for Friars

By David Scott - November 22, 2006

PROVIDENCE - Both Boston College and Providence College were facing bounce back games on this, Thanksgiving Eve, 2006.

BC had lost AT HOME to Vermont, 77-63 nine days prior. PC had lost AT HOME to Brown, 51-41, just four days earlier.

So the “quicksand” that PC coach Tim Welsh said his Friars were walking around in the past few days was probably doubly quick and doubly sandy for Al Skinner’s Eagles.

The difference after 40 minutes of spirited play (mostly by the Friars) is that Welsh and his team (2-1) will enjoy their turkey, stuffing and desserts just a bit more because of the 73-64 win. Skinner and his Eagles (1-2) will likely have trouble even looking at the bird on their table.

“It was a gut check tonight,” said Welsh, who now stands one win shy of 200 for his career. “We got whacked upside the head (on Saturday against Brown) and showed some bounce-back ability tonight.”

Incredibly, the Friars overcame a monstrous 12 block performance by BC’s Sean Williams, who was playing in his first game of the season after a two-game suspension for violating team rules. On Wednesday night, Williams violated just about any shot that came his way.

(Said the 6-foot-10, junior center after the game: “There’s not anyone nowadays that I really watch (in terms of shot-blocking). But a buddy of mine put together a tape of Bill Russell for me over the summer and I just like the way he willed his team to win every night.”)

But not even the BC school-record for blocks (since they began keeping the stat in 1978) was enough to will the “hesitant” Eagles to what would have been an important non-conference win.

“It’s a combination of things for us,” said Skinner. “We’re not really trusting each other right now. They’ve got have confidence in their teammates and they can’t be hesitant. In that second that we hesitate, it allows the defense to recover.”

BC’s senior leader, Jared Dudley (17 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and four turnovers) said he is concerned enough about his team’s 1-2 start that “I’m going to set up a meeting for us when we get back.”

The first thing on that meeting’s agenda, according to Skinner, should probably be the team’s lackadaisical effort. “We’re becoming spectators out there (when Sean is blocking those shots),” Skinner said. “We can’t afford to stand around at watch.

“For Sean to play as well as he did,” said Skinner, “and for us not to take advantage of it, is very unfortunate.”

But what a show it was. Even the referees were having trouble keeping up with the Swatting Sean, according to Welsh..

“One of the referees told me it was one of the hardest games to officiate because they couldn’t (readily determine) if they were blocks or goal-tendings,” said Welsh. “It brought back memories of when I was an assistant at Syracuse and we’d face (Georgetown) with Dikembe Mutumbo and Alonzo Mourning. I‘ve never seen something like that.”

Even so, the Friars continued to take it into the paint all night. “Our guys did not stop going at him and that’s impressive. We continued to attack the zone.”

Leading the list of Most Impressive for the Friars was the former All-State high school quarterback from New Rochelle, NY, sophomore Geoffrey McDermott, who finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, a steal and four turnovers in 38 minutes.

“I talked to him about bringing his football mentality to the court,” said Welsh. “He’s an emotional leader, a real quarterback-type and he’s a tremendous team leader, especially for a sophomore.”

Also impressive and key contributors for the Friars were Welsh’s “Beef Brothers” off the bench, sophomore Jonathan Kale and freshman Ray Hall, who combined for 38 minutes, 11 points (all by the beefy Kale) and nine rebounds. Throw in an efficient night for center Herbert Hill (eight points, four rebounds and four blocks) and the guard play of Sharaud Curry and Weyinmi Efejuku (18 points and 17 respectively), and the result is a well-blanked win for a team that could surprise some folks in the Big East this season.

“I think we’re a good team and we proved it tonight,” said Welsh. “I told the guys if we out-rebound them, we will win. And we did (42-31).

“I’ve been around too long - I know (after a loss like Brown) you have to pick yourself up and get ready and I also know that we’re very young so I can‘t be walking around like it‘s doomsday,” Welsh said. “We’re going to have a better Thanksgiving than I thought we would a couple of days ago.”

Meanwhile, BC will be suffering indigestion from the lingering effects of this one.

Posted by David Scott at 11:05 PM on November 22, 2006

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