Picking a Bad Time to Play Poorly: PC’s Offensive Woes and Sloppy Play Doom them Against St. John’s

With Xavier losing last night on the road (sensing a theme in the Big East?), the opportunity was there for Providence to control its destiny in a title defense. That opportunity was fumbled many times over today as Providence’s poor shooting and self-inflicted errors led to a 73-68 loss.

Bryce Hopkins led the way with 29 and 9 for the Friars, while St. John’s had a more balanced effort with 5 players scoring in double figures. It was a glimpse of mediocre Friar teams of old where one or two players dominate offensively, but nobody else makes much of a contribution.

We recap below what went wrong and how the Friars can get back on track against Creighton.

Revisiting the Previewhttps://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/02/10/saturday-at-msg-friars-look-to-sweep-reeling-johnnies/

Pace of Play – Give credit to the Johnnies for speeding up the Friars. I thought Bynum would thrive in this one, and he did have 10 assists, but the play of Providence was overall incredibly sloppy. They finished with 13 turnovers and seemed out of sorts the entire game. Players were indecisive on the offensive end due to the swarming nature of St. John’s defense. That contributed to the overall poor efforts.

Emergence of AJ Storr – We wrote about how the freshman was coming on, and he didn’t disappoint with 15 and 5. He has the potential to be an All-Conference player in years to come.

Control the Glass – Providence’s best assets are drawing fouls, getting to the free throw lines, and dominating the glass. Providence outrebounded St. John’s by 13 and shot one less free throw. If you were to tell me that pregame, I would have stuck with my prediction of a somewhat comfortable Providence win (5-10 points). So, how did they lose? Keep reading.

Backcourt Left a Lot to be Desired – Bynum should be getting starter minutes no question, but there may be something to him coming off the bench. I’m grasping at straws, but he was very off today. Bynum went 2-12 and never could find any semblance of a rhythm. His 2-7 from deep were all quality shots for the most part. The most concerning part to me is that Bynum tends to overdribble when he isn’t knocking his shots down, and we saw him pass up many quality looks for that very reason.

Locke continued the trend (absent X game) of being invisible on the road. In 20 minutes, he went 2-9 and 1-8 from 3. A lot of those shots weren’t poor shots either.

It’s near impossible to win when your starting backcourt is that poor from the floor.

Bench Woes Resume – With Bynum elevated to the starting line-up, the issues of the bench from the past re-emerged. The bench went a combined 1-12 from the floor with 4 total points. There may be something to Bynum coming off the bench and kickstarting the reserves. Cooley was doing everything to find a spark, including playing Rafael Castro, but nobody was able to show they earned the playing time.

Cooley may have shown his cards a bit early because I’m not sure there is any way you can relegate Bynum back to the bench for psychological reasons, but that may be what is best for this version of the Friars.

Please note I’m not asking for Bynum to be benched. He should still get the most minutes out of all the guards, in my opinion, but the microwave roll off the bench as 6th man may be where he is most comfortable.

Croswell Needs to Realize his Role – Croswell had 9 and 8, but I’m most focused on something that has nothing to do with basketball: his attitude on the court.

There were far too many times in this game where he was looking for foul calls and clapping demonstratively at the refs instead of being the junkyard dog and bully that we’ve grown to know. Croswell needs to understand he is on the road and is not going to get many calls. Asking for fouls when, quite frankly, you don’t deserve them is a waste of time and energy.

More importantly, the rest of the team is looking to him for leadership. Croswell needs to be that emotional leader, and his demeanor on the court really was frustrating today. He carried himself like a defeated man at moments today, and the rest of the team seemingly followed suit.

Big Picture – Rest of Season

Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected the Providence Friars to repeat in the Big East. The fact that Friar fans are disappointed after this loss because it makes the repeat that much more difficult is a testament to the job this team has done to date.

Now, the focus should be on playing their best basketball and securing a good seed for the NCAA tournament. They still very much have the ability to land a seeding in the 4-6 range if they play quality basketball down the stretch.

While the repeat is still mathematically possible, Providence currently sits 4th in the Big East and needs all 4 teams to simultaneously collapse. The odds of that happening are slim to none.

So, for now, let’s focus on stringing a few wins together, improving the resume, and making a second weekend run in March.


Sometimes, it is just one of those days where the ball isn’t going through the hoop. The issue wasn’t getting looks. The offense ran pretty well. The issue was converting. 33% from the floor and 30% from 3 will never cut it, especially on the road in the Big East.

Exemplified by last night’s upset, is is REALLY hard to win on the road. Providence needs to regroup, right their wrongs, and come out swinging against a hot Creighton team Tuesday night.

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