It wasn’t always pretty, but Big East games rarely are. With the offense struggling to find a rhythm, Noah Locke carried the Friars with a career high 29 points on 11-17 from the floor and 7-12 from deep. Providence needed every ounce of it, as DePaul came in hungry for their second upset bid of the week. The Friars did just enough to hold off DePaul to get to 15-5 overall and 7-2 in the Big East.
Below we break down how the Friars came about getting the home victory.
Revisiting Keys to Game
In the preview article (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/20/providence-looks-to-get-back-on-track-at-home-pc-versus-depaul-preview/), we highlighted a couple critical areas where Providence needed to execute to win.
Bynum Out Again – I thought there was a chance Jared returned for this game, but he still seems a ways off from playing. Cooley post-game said he hasn’t attempted a shot since the UConn game, even in practice, so it may be wishful thinking to believe he is even back for the next game against Butler.
With Bynum out, Breed again received the starting nod with Pierre backing him up. Pierre showed well in 14 minutes with 4 assists to zero turnovers and 4 rebounds. Breed played his usual solid defense. Where they are REALLY missing Bynum is the offensive end.
PC averages 79 points/game on the season. With Bynum out, they have scored 75, 75, 67, 83, and 73, averaging 74.6 points in those games. Breed and Pierre scored 4 total points today on 2-8 shooting. Jared adds an offensive threat to this team that the defense needs to account for. With Breed and Pierre in the line-up, the defense really doesn’t have to concern themselves with worrying about either player going off on the offensive end.
Floyd Jr. Playing Time – With Locke going 2-11 against Marquette, there were calls for Floyd Jr. to eat into his time. I can understand the frustration after the loss, but Locke is such a critical part to this team’s offensive identity, particularly with Bynum out. You need to ride with the good and bad. Locke is inconsistent, no doubt, but when he is on, he can do things like score 20+. In the second half, Cooley designed the entire game-plan around getting him quality looks.
On top of that, Locke is playing like a much more well rounded player than he did early in the season. He is attempting to play tough defense, which is more than what we saw early, and is taking quality looks and passing up sub-par looks.
Don’t take me for a Floyd Jr. doubter, for what it is worth. As a guy from Jersey, I want nothing more than to see Floyd Jr. insert himself as a critical cog to this team. His time will come, but right now he is nothing more than a role player. That is fine. He’s a redshirt freshman that should theoretically be a true freshman. If he isn’t a starter by the time he is a junior, I’ll be shocked. For right now, it’s Locke’s time.
Rebounding & Making A Statement – Sometimes The Crier and I kind of, sort of know what we are talking about. Providence had a 5 rebound advantage, and we predicted that number to be doubled, speaking to the fact that Cooley wanted to make a home statement and re-establish their identity. Well, they had a 40 – 30 rebound advantage. A blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.
DePaul tried to be the bully on the block with some physical play, bordering on dirty (Yor Anei…). Unfortunately, they failed to realize Providence is the bigger bully on the block. Providence embraced the physicality and used it to attain a victory. Leaning into physical play probably isn’t the right strategy against a Cooley-led Providence squad.
Hopkins – Big East Player of the Year? It has to be said just how automatic he is game in and out. Hopkins had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and fans just kind of expect it. That’s how impressive he has been.
Hopkins is top 5 in the Big East in scoring and Top 2 in rebounding. If he isn’t the frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year, he’s at least in the top 2 or 3 with Boum, Soriano, Kolek, Scheierman, and Sanogo. The fact that we know he’s a lock for First Team All-Big East means he has already exceeded expectations. He’s special, and Providence fans may need to be ready for this to be his only season in the Black & White.
Devin Carter – Defense Player of the Year? Carter, as a guard, had 4 blocks today. He’s also top 3 in the league in steals. I’m hoping the coaches in the Big East recognize him as the most well-rounded defensive player in the Big East, although he may end up coming up short like his fellow South Carolina friend Justin Minaya. Carter blankets defenders.
As weird as it sounds to write, he is just as important of an add as Bryce Hopkins.
Providence plays Butler at home at 8:30 PM EST on FS1. Xavier plays Connecticut, so there is a serious chance to make up some ground in the Big East race.