Providence was pushed to the limit in the season opener of the 2022-2023 season. The game will likely be a microcosm for the season – the lows are low, the highs are high, and we’ll likely experience both versions of that squad in the same game. The Broncs gave Providence everything they could handle, and it was a great opening test for the Friars. It is much easier to improve after a win, and Providence is able to walk out of the AMP 1-0.
With this being the first game of the season, there were a few things that caught our eye that we think will be themes for the duration of the season.
BOC Themes of the Game
- Thank you Frank Martin, Part II – Devin Carter was who impressed me the most out of all the Friars in the opening game. He was a freshman All-SEC player, so my expectations for him should probably have been a bit higher, but I didn’t anticipate him to be an almost carbon copy of Justin Minaya on the defensive end. Carter led the game in steals with 5 total, added a block in the opening possession of the game, and was second on the Friars in total rebounds at 7. Carter is going to be an eraser on the defensive end and will do all the little things that will endear him to Friar fans. He is advanced offensively compared to Minaya, and I expect him to fill up the stat sheet all year. He’s a lock to start and will be the straw that stirs the drink for the Friars all season long.
- Hopkins overcomes early jitters to show he will be a match-up nightmare – You could just feel the tension and nerves emanating from Hopkins early in the game. As the game progressed, you saw why everybody is so high on the Kentucky transfer. He couldn’t buy a bucket near the rim, and I expect that to be an anomaly. He has a great face-up game and will be getting to the free throw line frequently. Hopkins led the team with 18 points, and it could have been 10+ more if a few of those bunnies went in. Hopkins needs to acclimate himself a bit more on the defensive end, as he had a few lapses, but it is apparent Providence will lean on him heavily throughout the season.
- Clifton Moore, A Sight for Sore Eyes – How great was it to have an eraser in the post? Moore led the team with 4 blocks and bailed out a few guards who were beat off the dribble. This is something that Providence hasn’t had in quite some time, and it is refreshing to have somebody who can protect the rim. Even when he wasn’t blocking shots, he was altering them. There was a Rider possession in the second half that culminated in a travel. That travel was due to the guard hesitating to attempt a reverse lay-up because Moore was in his vicinity. Heck, he can also shoot the 3 ball!
- If Providence is going to get to the free throw line, it needs to start converting – With Carter, Hopkins, and Croswell in the line-up, Providence is going to get to the free throw line frequently. The game was so close because PC only went 61% from the charity stripe, going 26-43. Providence needs to get that number up to 70% or a lot of these games are going to be nail-biters. 60% isn’t acceptable.
- A Tale of Two Halves on Defense – All Friar fans know that the way to find yourself cemented on the bench for Ed Cooley is to put forth a half-hearted effort on defense. That was the first half, with Rider scoring 40. PC buckled down in the second half, allowing only 25 points. Rider was incredible from deep, going 9-14, but many of those makes were due to poor close outs by the Friars. It is a learning process playing defense under Ed Cooley, and I expect the defense to continue to improve as the season progresses.
- Quiet Night for Bynum – It was a night to forget for the Preseason First Team All Big East player. Bynum went 1-9 from floor and 0-4 from 3. He took care of the ball with a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio, and I was delighted to see how easy he was able to beat his man off the dribble. With that said, he needs to play smarter basketball, especially at the close of the game. The two shot clock violations by him were frustrating and not something you’d expect out of your veteran lead guard. Bynum needs to be the calming presence at the end of games with all of the new players on PC, and I hope tonight was a learning experience for him moving forward.
- Friar fanbase may have overlooked the Broncs – I’m guilty of this. Returning 4 starters in an age of the transfer portal was something I should have been more alert to. Rider looked ready for the challenge, and they were close to pulling off the upset. This may be a win that is looked back upon more fondly in a few months, similar to Vermont and St. Peters last year.
Providence’s next game is 8PM EST on Saturday, November 12th at the Amical Mutual Pavilion. The game will air on FS2.