A three-pointer’s worth of PC Friar basketball thoughts with an eye toward preventing the current season from further sliding off the rails:
1. Not too long ago, David Duke and Nate Watson were regarded as the most potent 1-2 punch in the Big East.
Alas, the wind has been taken out of either one or both of their sails. Either Duke or Watson have been operating as independent contractors or they’ve simultaneously put forth less-than-stellar efforts.
It goes without saying that if the Friars are going to reverse course after their latest crushing loss with Wednesday’s game against Seton Hall on the docket (7 p.m., Alumni Hall), Duke and Watson must get back on the same page. The Friars are a team loaded with deficiencies, hence they can ill afford any sort of drop-off in production from their top-heavy tandem.
The last four games — a 2-2 stretch for the Friars — have yielded enough of a sample size of one star going in one direction while the other heads in a completely different way.
• On Jan. 20, Watson netted a career-high 29 points, while Duke shot 2 for 11 for 12 points in PC’s 74-70 win at Creighton.
• Three days later, Watson and Duke were nonfactors, scoring 22 combined points in a blowout loss at Villanova. Duke was 4 of 17 from the field.
• Last Wednesday, Duke carried the Friars with a season-high 31 points in an overtime win over Marquette at home. Save for a few fleeting moments, Watson was largely contained and ended up with nine points.
• Watson watched the final three minutes, 19 seconds of last Saturday’s one-point loss to Georgetown from the bench after fouling out with 12 points. Duke never got on track, missing 9 of 11 shots for a season-low five points. He also missed a free throw that would have tied the game with 1.5 seconds on the clock.
Among Big East scoring leaders, Duke ranks second (18.6 points per game) with Watson right behind him in third (17.6). If the Friars are going to repeat last year’s strong finish to the regular season that from February on saw them rip off eight wins in 10 tries, Duke and Watson must get back to forming the kind of united front that until recently was one of the few givens when referencing the Friars.
2). Noah Horchler has emerged as PC’s sixth man, yet one can’t help but want more from the transfer who hasn’t come close to matching the production he had during his time at North Florida. Speaking of fresh additions, Georgetown’s roster is loaded with transfers, with one of them — Chudier Bile via Northwestern State — hurting the Friars in a major way with a season-high 19 points last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Horchler hasn’t scored in double figures since the Jan. 2 loss at home to Creighton.
3). Jimmy Nichols and Greg Gantt bring vastly different skills to the table. One of them is a smooth scorer who seems to run into trouble on the defensive end more often than not. The other player is a hard-worker who seems to play beyond the limitations he has as a scorer far too often.
In other words, it’s best to avoid having Nichols and Gantt on the court at the same time.