In November of 2021, The Crier and I decided to make a few bold predictions on the season ahead (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/11/05/hot-takes-bold-predictions-ahead-of-the-2021-2022-season/). While we were certainly bullish on the Friars relative to national perception, I don’t think either of us could have predicted the season that just transpired. It’s fun to look back and see where our preseason expectations landed relative to how the season unfolded.
BOC Bold Predictions
- Providence enters Big East play nationally ranked- This one should have been an absolute hit; however, the national disrespect by the pollsters to the Friars was a common theme all season. Providence entered into Big East play at 10-1, but were unranked. It was only after a road win against Connecticut that propelled Providence to #21. Looking back now, out of conference wins against Vermont, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, and Saint Peters look even better today than they did at the time. What a travesty.
- Providence significantly outperforms their preseason Big East projection, finishing in top 4 of the Big East – Providence was slated preseason to finish #7. Is finishing #1 good? This is why Cooley was the runaway Big East Coach of the Year.
- Providence reaches the Sweet 16 – I’m most happy about this prediction because I just had a sense this veteran squad had a second weekend run in them. Most folks said this was a bubble team at best heading into the season, and you couldn’t necessarily blame them. NCAA tournament runs are normally captured by older squads with veteran ball handlers. Providence was one of (if not the) oldest teams in the NCAA, and it showed with its ability to win close games.
- Nate Watson finishes the season as an All-American – Nate, by all measures, had a fantastic season. He was one of the premiere big men in the Big East and finished second team All-Big East. Where I missed here was not recognizing how balanced this team was top to bottom. There was no need for Watson to have to dominate every game because PC had so many scorers they could rely on.
- Providence breaks the record for 3 point field goal % under Ed Cooley – The mark was set at 37.1%, and Providence finished at 34.3%. Clearly, they weren’t that close. This Providence team could be defined as streaky from deep, with some games shooting above 45% from 3 and others where they are shooting below 25%. If Providence wants to reload and capture the magic again next year, they need to find consistent shooters in the transfer portal.
Summary: I had a feeling this team would exceed expectations, but the magnitude in which they did shocked even me.
The Crier Bold Predictions
- AJ Reeves will average 15+ points per game- This one didn’t quite pan out with Reeves averaging 9.9 ppg, but I certainly didn’t see the balance scoring that this team would have. Reeves did lead the team in scoring 3 times with a huge performance in the Big East regular season championship clincher against Creighton. Reeves was also big in PC’s road victory at UConn to open Big East play.
BOC Commentary: The consistency was what was missed here with Reeves. I think we both imagined there would be a more consistent output, but it just never clicked like we imagined. With that said, Reeves is a fantastic ambassador of the program and left us with one of the more memorable quotes of the season. Selfishly, I’m hopeful he considers rejoining next year with his extra year.
- This Friar squad is a KenPom Top 50 Defense– As of now this prediction appears to be true. PC is currently 46th in defensive efficiency per KenPom. Their defense especially shined in their NCAA Tournament run holding South Dakota St, Richmond, and Kansas well below their season average in scoring.
BOC Commentary: The biggest narrative of the season may have been the Friars vs. KenPom. Who saw that coming?!
- Friars will be Top 25 nationally in free throw shooting- Was way off with this one with Providence ranking 139th in FT percentage at 72.8%. PC did however have the 90th best FT rate with Al Durham ranking 21st nationally. Durham got the nickname the Closer for his clutch free throw shooting late.
- Friars will win the Big East Tournament- Entering Madison Square Garden on Friday night I felt decently confident in this. PC would end up falling to Creighton in the semifinals. Having previously seen a Big East Tournament Championship I’ll take PC’s first ever Big East regular season title over the tournament crown.
BOC: I’ll take a regular season Big East title over tournament title, thank you.
Summary: I didn’t know what to expect from this team going into this season. Perhaps that’s what made the season so enjoyable for me. This team just blew any expectations I could’ve had out the window. What a ride.