As the Friars continue to show fans who they are, there’s been a question that fans have wanted to see answers to: who’s going to be that key role player behind the seniors? That fill-the-gap-wherever-needed type of player who can give you points, lock down a defender, or grab some boards when the team is struggling.
For this Friars team, the conversation centered around who would be that person with so much depth on the roster. Would it be Drew Edwards, Maliek White, one of the freshman Makai Ashton-Langford or Nate Watson, or perhaps transfer Isaiah Jackson? While each of these guys and others have had their own respective big games, it’s been Alpha Diallo who has made the strides and become the firecracker that helps the Friars explode when they’ve needed to.
— Brendan McGair (@BWMcGair03) January 20, 2018
Saturday against Creighton may have been his best example of that yet. Diallo, who had a quieter game against Butler with just 10 points on 4-11 shooting, came out surging against the Bluejays on Saturday.
But looking at Diallo’s (impressive) stat sheet alone doesn’t explain just how much energy he brought for the Friars. Whether it was a basket when the Friars needed it, or a slam home to help maintain energy and momentum when the Friars were up, the team operated through Diallo.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 20, 2018
His efforts did not go unnoticed by either coach. Cooley brought Diallo into the post game press conference, saying that Diallo is “a luxury for [Providence] to have a player of his versatility” and that Diallo was the player of the game. Diallo too noted that Cooley stresses how he’s a “matchup nightmare” who can post up when teams go small, and beat bigger teams off the dribble.
Creighton Coach Greg McDermott noted that although he wasn’t the biggest concern for Creighton coming into the game, Diallo took the Bluejays by surprise and got the Friars going.
With the team syncing up and playing better, seeing these roles emerge is just another encouraging sign for Providence fans who had NCAA aspirations this year. If the Friars continue to play like this the question will evolve from if the Friars will make it to the Tournament, to how far they could go in it.