As the Crier stated on the latest episode of the Providence Crier Podcast, there is plenty to be merry about in Friartown. The Friars are off to their first 11-1 start since the 2015-2016 season. The team has stuffed their stockings with good wins over Wisconsin and Uconn on the road, Texas Tech at home and Northwestern on a neutral court. Providence is the only team with 4 Quad1 wins. The road win at then #20 UConn tipped the scales to finally get some recognition from the AP poll voters with PC checking in at #22 this week. There really isnt much more that we could ask for from the Friars, but we live in a capitalistic society. There can always be more. So BOC and I decided to make a Christmas wish list for the team. Enjoy.
The Crier’s Wishlist
- Improved Free Throw Shooting- As of today the Friars are in the middle of the pack in free throw shooting at 70.9% (172 nationally). The free throw line has yet to bite the Friars in a game despite in their two road wins, which PC won by a combined 9 points, they shot a combined 17/33 good for 51.5% from the charity stripe. That’s lower than Shaq’s career percentage from the line, we must be better. This is like asking for socks in your stocking, not the sexiest gift but a necessity. If the Friars want to continue to win tough games, they must do better at the line.
- February and March Free of Bubble Talk- We mentioned in the opening that this is the first 11-1 start since the 2015-2016 season. One of the great things about that season was that it was one where PC wasn’t on “the bubble”. That team got their ranking as high as #8 in the nation and despite finishing the regular season 5-6 there was no worries of the Friars invitation to the Big Dance. As of now the Friars are trending towards playing for seeding in the months of February or March instead of fighting for their tournament lives. It would be a welcome change for The Crier’s mental state.
- Cleaning Supplies- Usually getting someone a vacuum for Chirstmas doesnt go over well but thats what the Crier wants. Also maybe some Windex, paper towels and a swiffer. The spirit of Christmas is about giving as much as it is receiving. So this gift isn’t for the Friars but rather for Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers. The lone blemish on the Friars resume is a 58-40 loss to UVA. The Cavs pack line defense proved to be a horrific matchup for the Friars, just as the Crier predicted. Typically a loss to UVA under the guidance of Tony Bennett isnt a bad thing but this year’s Cavalier team has been a disaster. Coming into today the Cavaliers are 7-5 after a home drubbing at the hands of Clemson 67-50 in their ACC opener. The Cavs also have losses to Navy and James Madison, which ranks them 71st in KenPom and 113th in NET. This equates the loss to UVA on a neutral floor as a Quad 3 loss for the Friars. I can’t have UVA, coming off a national championship 3 years ago, being a “bad loss” on PC’s resume. CLEAN IT UP TONY!!
It is a true testament to the state of the Friars that most of my wishlist items are for things NOT to happen. The Friars are playing incredible ball right now, and I don’t want that to change in the New Year.
1. COVID to not impact the NCAA Tourney – As games get postponed due to COVID still being a thing, I am getting flashbacks of the 2019-2020 season. The Friars were the hottest team in America heading into conference tournaments and were a lock to make the NCAA tournament.
This year’s Friar squad is nationally ranked and is a sure bet to make the NCAA tournament. The only thing that can hurt this Providence team is a cancellation of the remaining season.
2. No Major Injuries – Providence had a minor injury in Jared Bynum, but he seems to be on his way back to full health. Besides COVID, the only other thing that could derail this season is a (knock on wood) major injury. This team has talent and depth, but a serious injury could make this team go sideways. Here is to 2022 being a year with a clean bill of health.
3. Close Out Games More Effectively – Again, the fact that this is a wishlist item is a testament to the season to date. Providence has had incredible road wins against Wisconsin and UCONN, but they almost gave both of those games away in the final minutes. Both games should have been won relatively comfortably, but Providence turned the ball over, missed free throws, and generally didn’t execute in the waning moments of each game. A win is a win, but it’d be nice to close out games with ease once the game is in hand.
4. Breed to break out of his sophomore slump – Breed thankfully doesn’t need to be relied upon thanks to Durham and Bynum, but it would be nice to see Breed return to form. He has hit an offensive drought, and that traditionally has never been the case.
Special Holiday Message