Providence, coming off a humbling loss against TCU, asserted its will against the Rhode Island Rams to the tune of 88-74. There were six players who scored in double figures, with Bryce Hopkins leading the way at 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists. Providence jumped out to a 16 point halftime lead and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the duration of the second half.
We recap how the Friars secured their 6th win of the season and reclaimed the title of “Kings of Rhode Island”.
Revisiting Keys to Game
The preview article here (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/12/02/rivalry-renewed-pc-visit-uri/#more-5393) spoke to a couple key items we were looking for ahead of the game.
Change to Line-Up? – Based off the poll we put out earlier in the week, the majority of the fan-base thought there would be a change to the starting line-up. There were 190 total votes, with 96.7% predicting a line-up change. Well, it shows how much we know. Cooley stuck with his starting line-up, and his patience paid off. Bynum and Locke were primarily the guys in question. Bynum finished with an efficient 14 points on 4-7 shooting with five assists. Most important, he was 2/3 from deep. Noah Locke got back on track with 13 points on 5-13 shooting. I’d like to see Locke be a bit more selective on his shot selections, but Providence badly needs offense so I can live with a guy hunting for his own shot.
Can Bynum Break Out of His Slump? That didn’t look to be the case in the first half of the first half. He was forcing the issue and driving when he didn’t have numbers. After an extended time on the bench, he played much more to the level that we expect of him. His second half was promising, and I am optimistic the late 3 ball will increase his shot confidence.
First Team All Big East Bynum may not happen (I’m still holding out hope), but a 12 and 6 Bynum gets Providence to the NCAA tournament. He just needs to play within himself.
Frontcourt Domination in Paint – It wasn’t the Herculean effort that we were expecting, but Croswell and Moore were more than serviceable in this match-up. They combined for 24 and 8 on an incredible 10-13 shooting. They each had 2 blocks.
Bryce Hopkins – This kid is really coming into his own. We wish he didn’t have as many turnovers as he does (averaging 2.6 turnovers a game), but his inside out versatility was on full display today. Hopkins is like a bull in a china shop when he drives to the paint, with surprising athleticism. Hopkins also has an innate ability to gather rebounds after missed shots, eerily similar to Alpha Diallo. Hopkins had 15 rebounds today, and I think it’s fair to say he may have the ability to lead this Friar squad in both scoring and rebounds. Go figure.
Struggling URI Offense – Whenever you get a double digit win on the road, you are happy. With that said, Cooley cannot be thrilled with letting up 74 points, with 47 points in the second half.
One thing I particularly noticed is URI exploiting Bynum on the pick and roll. I picked up on this initially against St. Louis, and I fear the blueprint may be out on how to attack Bynum on defense. I’m not an X and O expert by any means, but I know Cooley is. He needs to sort this out quickly because Big East teams will feast on this in the half court set.
Breed’s Calming Presence an Asset – Breed led all bench players in minutes played with 23 minutes. He was assertive on offense to the tune of 9 points on 4-5 shooting. He gobbled up 5 rebounds as well. On the defensive end, he was his usual solid self. When Cooley needed a veteran to stabilize the team with Bynum a bit off early, he turned to Breed.
I’m an admitted Breed apologist. For all those who are skeptical, Breed needs to show this type of game more consistently. If he does, he’ll consistently be getting 15-20 minutes a game off the bench and hopefully quiet the doubters.
Carter Becoming the Leader on this Team – We’ve been clamoring for a leader to step up. I think it is becoming clear this team is Devin Carter’s to lead. Carter doesn’t stop working and made quite an exclamation point on a fast break dunk that led to a URI timeout. More important, he was boisterous and borderline cocky after the dunk, letting the Rhode Island team know what he just did. Providence needs more of that confidence (note, it isn’t false confidence) as they continue to find their legs.
Providence’s next game is Wednesday at 8:30 PM EST against Manhattan College. The game will be aired on FS1.