Yesterday, we explored what we’ve learned about this team through non-conference play (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/12/14/what-have-we-learned-heading-into-big-east-play-providence-friars/#more-5451). Today, we take an honest assessment of what questions still remain around this Providence program as they head into Big East play.
1. Will the increased competition reveal some warts and highlight that the inflated statistics were due to playing inferior opponents?
In the three games out of conference that would be comparable to conference play (St. Louis, Miami, TCU), it is interesting to see averages in these three games versus the other lower quality opponents in non-conference.
Croswell: 6.7 points, Breed: 2.0 points, Locke: 5.0 points, Moore: 4.0 points, Hopkins: 17.7 points, Carter: 12.7 points, Bynum 10.3 points
It is revealing that two of the players that have received the most praise in Hopkins and Carter scored more than their season average in those 3 games. The other: Jared Bynum.
I point out these 3 game stats because I am a bit concerned that players like Croswell, Breed, Locke, and Moore won’t produce at the same level as they have been against the likes of Merrimack and Albany.
2. Will Bynum Return to Form as a Scorer?
To be honest, I can’t wait for conference play to start so we can stop hearing about Bynum’s “subpar” play. The guy is struggling to score, yes, but his overall game is more than adequate right now. He’s playing fantastic team first ball.
If Bynum can rekindle some of the magic on offense from last year, this Providence team becomes very dangerous. He’ll create more open lanes and spacing for Carter and Hopkins to drive while getting higher quality looks for Locke from deep.
3. Can Locke UnLocke the Deep Ball with Consistency?
Noah Locke can hit the deep ball. We all know that. He has 12 more three’s made than the next person on the roster. He has made 21 total. He has also attempted 24 more threes than the next person on the roster, coming in at 32.8% on the season from deep. That is 6th best on the team. That is also his lowest in his career, with the next lowest 34.2% last year and 37.9% as a true freshman. If he can somehow find his sophomore and junior year form where he averaged above 40% from deep both seasons, this gives Cooley another tool to deploy.
4. With Big East play, does Cooley rely on his veterans more than the promising youngsters?
Cooley has often said he plays players he trusts. This rings true even more in conference play. It will be fascinating to see how much time he gives to Pierre, Floyd Jr., and Castro compared to the veterans in Breed and Moore. I think the minutes will lean more heavily to Breed and Moore, but Cooley cannot stunt the growth of those three freshmen by playing them spot minutes.