Providence chose a very poor time to be ice cold offensively. With their season on the line, the Friars went 36% from the floor and 21% from deep on the way to a first round exit of the NCAA Tournament. In the past month, it has been the defense that has been the root of the issues with the Friars, but the defense actually did an admirable job against this Kentucky squad. It was the multitude of offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities that ultimately did the Friars win.
We break down the game below and what’s next for the Providence Friars:
Keys to Game
PC Offense Didn’t Travel to Greensboro – Ed Croswell led the way with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Devin Carter was the only other player in double figures with 10 points on 4-14 shooting. That cannot happen in a lose or go home type scenario.
As we’ve discussed all season, PC received little to no production from the bench. The bench totaled 3 points total. That’s unfortunately been a consistent theme and is an area that Providence must improve upon in the offseason heading into next season. You cannot expect your starters to carry the scoring load all season. Bench players need to be relied upon to score and be a positive factor in the game.
Bryce Hopkins Reunites Versus Old Teammates – It was a night to forget for Bryce. Hopkins went 2-9 with 7 points and 4 turnovers. The athleticism and length of Kentucky seemed to frustrate Bryce all night, and his shot, which has been hit or miss all season, wasn’t there. As exemplified by the emotions post-game, this one meant a lot to Bryce, and he may have been too emotionally charged up for this one. It will be a great learning experience for Hopkins in a successful career.
Any inclination of Hopkins going to the NBA likely faded away over the past month, but there is a lot to build off of after this immensely productive season. Once that jump shot becomes a consistent weapon, he is truly going to be a three level scorer and potential All-American.
Taking a step back, he needs more help around him offensively. The difference in athleticism between the two squads last night, particularly on the boards, was eye opening. Hopkins would be just one of many blue chippers on Kentucky’s roster, and that difference is worth noting and emphasizing. Cooley needs to continue to aspire to land blue chip talent, whether out of high school or in the transfer portal.
Rebounding the Ultimate Difference – To my point above, the athleticism of the wings, guards, and Big Oscar made all the difference in the rebounding numbers. Kentucky swarmed to the ball and used its athletic ability to attain a multitude of second chance opportunities. Kentucky had 48 rebounds to Providence’s 31, with 18 offensive rebounds to Providence’s 8. Particularly when Croswell got in foul trouble, Kentucky feasted on an undermanned Providence frontcourt.
Despite the loss in the first round, I do think this team overachieved this year. Providence cannot replace 5 starters and reload the subsequent year without skipping a beat. I thought of this year as a building block year for the future, and I applaud the players for putting themselves back in the mix in the NCAA tournament. It wasn’t always pretty, but they should be proud of their accomplishments this year.
It is a sad to have to say goodbye to players like Ed Croswell and Jared Bynum. They’ve accomplished so much in their career at Providence, and I hope they are forever remembered fondly.
Croswell, in particular, is one of my favorite stories of a player putting in the work and developing into an incredibly impressive big man. Croswell laid the groundwork for what it meant to be a Friar, and I’m hoping players returning follow in the footsteps of Mr. Croswell. He’s a Friar success story.
Now, the keys are turned over to Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter. Having those two returning means this Providence team will be a threat to win the Big East. That’s a heck of a start for the Friars as they look to build off what they accomplished this year.
As always, Go Friars.
One thought on “Providence’s Up and Down Season Comes to an End: Friars Lose to Kentucky 61-53”
You hit that dead center