This game had everything and anything. Triple overtime? Check. Stoppage due to…roof leakage? Check. Al Durham pulling a Willis Reed several times? Check. End of game foul snafus? Check. Bynum playing the single greatest game as a Friar since Bryce Cotton in the NCAA Tournament? Absolute Check.
Jared Bynum put this team on his back and willed the Providence Friars to a win over the Xavier Musketeers. With the win, Providence has the ability to clinch the Big East Regular Season title for the first time EVER on Saturday with a home game against Creighton (who will be missing one of their best players in Andrew Nembhard).
We detail everything that happened in this game and what it means moving forward.
- Jared Bynum has transformed within a month to one of the elite point guards in the nation. Yes, nation. It is not being a prisoner in the moment when I say that that had to be one of the most impressive basketball performances I’ve ever watched out of a Providence Friar. Without Bynum, there would have been no offense, no flow, and certainly no win. Bynum finished the game with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. More importantly, at the end of regulation and overtime, Cooley put the keys in his hand and implored him to win the game for his team. Over the last 6 games, Bynum is averaging a shade over 23 points a game. On the season, he is averaging 45.8% from deep. What is most impressive is that he has the ability to blow by his man and get to the rim seemingly whenever he likes. He’s crafty and pretty much impossible to defend 1:1. Kudos to Bynum for saving the day, but this brings me to my next point…
- As great as Bynum was, Providence cannot alter its offensive game plan to simply be Jared Bynum saving the day with the shot clock winding down. Bynum being Superman hopefully doesn’t turn out to be a double edged sword. It was clear that Cooley was either isolating Bynum on offensive trips or using a high ball screen to get him matched against a big man. I’m just hopeful that this game doesn’t alter the offensive strategy that got Providence here of sharing and distributing the ball. While Bynum is playing on another level, it’s not fair to him to ask him to carry the entire offense game in and out. I’m not sure it is sustainable either.
- Breed coming up clutch. We talked in our podcast about the Durham injury opening the door for more opportunities for Breed. Well, Breed certainly delivered in overtime. He knocked down 5-6 free throws, buried a floater in the third overtime when the defense was sagging off him to account for Bynum, and manned up on Zach Freemantle in the post to get a defensive stop. I’m admittedly a huge Breed fan, but I think any objective Friar fan will see the end of game plays by Breed as hopefully a catalyst for a late season resurgence. Breed makes winning plays, and we need as many of those players as possible on this roster.
- Reeves is an assassin from deep – Before fouling out, Reeves carried this team from deep. Reeves went 5-8 from deep and finished with 16 points and 6 boards. With Bynum and Reeves coming on, everybody in the starting line-up is a threat to score. There were 6 players that scored in double figures. That is such a breath of fresh air.
- Injury Concerns Moving Forward – That was one of the toughest performances out of a Friar that I’ve seen in some time by Al Durham. Durham went to the locker room several times due to injury, but returned to the game to help his team secure a win. It was a heroic effort. Bynum limped off at the end of the game as well, but I think that just may be due to cramping and exhaustion. With Nembhard out, the Friars have the upper hand in the backcourt against Creighton, assuming Bynum and Durham can play.
- The Dunk needs a renovation ASAP – It has become a running joke around the ice under the floor and delays due to water. This time, it appears the water on the court was coming from the roof. Besides the injury concerns, it is optically a horrendous look for Providence and The Dunk that this has happened so many times. The new AD needs to have a serious meeting with the The Dunk facilities and demand renovations. This kind of stuff is amateurish at best.
- Clock Operators need to shape up too – This is the second home game where the clock was an issue. There were several stoppages against Nova, but I chalked that up to a one-off issue where the magnitude of the game overwhelmed everybody. This time, the clock issues actually HURT Providence. There was a situation where Xavier had 2 seconds on the shot clock and were inbounding. I need to look back, but I’m fairly certain we didn’t start the shot clock on time. Kunkel had enough time to fumble the ball twice, gather it, and still hoist a shot at the rim. If the operators did their job correctly, that’s a shot clock violation and Providence ball. Instead, Xavier got an offensive rebound and scored. That cannot happen.
- The disdain for PC by other fanbases is comical – At some point, you just have to laugh it off. Some of these Big East programs and their fanbases are more worried about the outcome of the Friar game than their own teams. Heavy lies the crown, I guess.
Providence looks to clinch a Big East regular season title with a win Saturday at home against Creighton. Creighton is coming off a nice road win against St. John’s, but will be without Andrew Nembhard. This is a massive blow, as Nembhard is likely Big East Freshman of the Year.
Needless to say, the next 3 days are going to be a full on party in Friartown. History awaits the 2021-2022 Friars.