Villanova threw punch after punch in the second half, scoring 41 of their 72 in the second. In the past, it was this same methodical offense that was surgical like that would dice up the Providence defense en route to a victory. No matter what Providence would do, Villanova always seemed to counter with a haymaker of their own to put the game away. This year, Providence delivered the final haymakers in the form of two deep three balls by Locke and Carter to put this game away and secure the season sweep of the Wildcats.
What makes this Providence team different is they don’t wilt when the game gets tight. Even with Villanova inching towards a one or two possession game in the second half, Providence had an answer. It was Locke hitting a 3, Croswell finishing at the rim, Hopkins with a contested jumper, Carter with a rainbow three. This year’s Providence team can beat you in so many ways, and it makes them truly dangerous.
The fact that I can’t decide whether to write about Locke’s continued development as a truly complete player, Hopkins further cementing his bid for Big East Player of the Year, or Croswell making his case as one of the best big men in the Big East is a sign of just how special (and surprising, to be honest) this team is.
We recap the win below for the 20-7 Friars.
BOC the Broken Record, Attacking the Glass – We’re calling this the Ed Croswell game for a reason. While Ed was the star for getting his 1,000 points and his ensuing incredible reaction, it was a total team effort on the glass. Providence outrebounded Villanova by 7, but the most telling stat is shooting 11 less 3’s than them. PC is a gritty, downhill team. I’m glad they only attempted 18 deep balls. That is staying true to your DNA.
Broken Record, Part 2 – PC shot 14 more free throws than Villanova, which is how they’ve secured wins all year. They get the opposing team in foul trouble and get their points from the free throw line. They made Villanova pay, going 75% from the charity stripe.
More rebounds, more free throws, not forcing three attempts. That’s the recipe for a successful PC in March.
Hopkins as BE POY – Who at this point has better odds to win the Big East Player of the Year than Bryce Hopkins? He has to be the odds-on favorite as of this writing. Hopkins was again dominant with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. What a complete showing from Bryce. I know all of the Big East is hoping he leaves after this year. He is exceeding everybody’s expectations, which were already sky high. Truly a special player.
What’s The Point of the Flop Rule – I was not a fan of the refs today. I thought they rewarded Villanova, particularly Caleb Daniels, with poor defending and flopping. Daniels flopped three times, and they were not called on any of them. Players are going to stop doing it once you call it. They will keep doing it when you don’t call it. Refs had to be a lot better today, as I thought they played a big hand in keeping this game close.
Croswell’s Value to this Team – Croswell may never get an All-Conference selection, but he is the epitome of what a Providence Friar is. He is a junkyard dog who works his tail off, plays with an edge, and has no quit in him. Croswell is the heartbeat of this squad.
His reaction to his 1,000 points made me legitimately laugh out loud. I don’t know him personally, but he seems like such a good dude. It was such an authentic, pure moment, and one of my favorite in-game clips since I’ve been following Providence.
Ed has a million dollar smile and attitude, and I hope everybody who follows Providence appreciates all Ed has done for this program.
Reinforcements are Coming – Floyd Jr, Breed, and Pierre are role players on this squad, but these guys will have vital roles for future Friar teams. Breed plays incredible defense, Pierre is the point guard of the future, and Floyd Jr. is the next in line of Cooley junkyard dogs. The future is very bright.
Kur Teng Official Visit – You couldn’t have asked for more from an official visit. The stadium was packed, the energy was top notch, and Providence had a decisive win against a nationally known program. Teng should see the backcourt of Carter and Locke put up 28 combined points and be salivating.
In case you missed it, we wrote a deep dive article on Kur Teng: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/16/crier-recruiting-corner-introducing-2024-guard-kur-teng/
Next up is a road tilt against the Connecticut Huskies. If Providence can steal a win there, watch out.