The 2022–2023 men’s basketball season is right around the corner and the hype surrounding the Friars is continuing to build with each passing day. The Friars open up the season on Nov. 8 against Rider University at the Amica Mutual Pavilion, formerly “The Dunk”. All offseason, campus has been buzzing about the new transfers, incoming freshmen, and how the reigning Naismith Coach of the Year will build on last season’s success. Expectations for this year’s squad will be higher than most years due to the accomplishments achieved by the team last year, as they won the Big East Regular Season title for the first time in school history and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. Despite what most analysts say about how they think this Friar team will perform, we trust in Cooley.
The team is returning three names that played and six players total from last year’s roster. Alyn Breed ’24, Jared Bynum ’22 GS, and Ed Croswell ’23 RS are running it back with Coach Cooley for his 12th season as the Friars’ bench bosses. The returning players for Cooley have huge roles to fill as the team graduated all five starters from last year’s 27-win team. Rafael Castro ’26 RS is an addition to the roster after sitting out last year to redshirt and look to see the 6’ 11” big man take on a serious role off the bench in the post to take off some of the pressure that Croswell will attract. Along with eight players donning the black & white for the first time in their career, Cooley and the team will have to work out the kinks more than usual. Incoming to Friartown include University of South Carolina sophomore transfer Devin Carter ’25 who had a standout freshman year and was ranked as the No. 26 best transfer, according to 247sports.com. Carter set the record at UofSC for most threes made in a season by a freshman, so he will be a prime candidate to fill A.J. Reeves’ spot as the team’s go-to three-point shooter. Next is University of Connecticut freshman transfer Corey Floyd Jr. who will still have four years left to play even after next season. Floyd was highly sought after coming out of high school, but did not see the court at UConn because their coaching staff thought losing was better apparently. After Floyd came University of Louisville graduate student transfer Noah Locke who played three seasons at the University of Florida before transferring to Louisville, and will finish his college career here in Friartown. The next transfer student is La Salle University graduate transfer Clifton Moore, who played two years at Indiana University before transferring to Lasalle and will play his final year here in Providence. Moore mentioned that playing with recently graduated Al Durham ’22 when they both were attending Indiana and earlier La Salle transfer Croswell both helped influence his decision to come to PC. Lastly, the biggest transfer in recent years for the Friars, University of Kentucky sophomore transfer Bryce Hopkins, who played little time at Kentucky but will fit in perfectly as a three or four in the rotation. Hopkins was named 2021 Illinois Player of the Year in his last year in high school and also accumulated various summer tournament accolades. Also, it is worth noting that in the annual Mal Brown inter-squad scrimmage, Hopkins put up 29 points. It is a tough task ahead for the coaching staff to try and match the success they reached last year, but if there is a coaching staff that can do it, it is the Friars. With a talent filled roster like the one assembled for Providence, it will be tough to expect anything less than wins. The starting lineup for the Friars is projected to be Bynum, Locke, and Carter as guards, with Hopkins and Croswell down low.
The Big East Conference increased in talent this offseason and competition will be fun to watch, as Creighton University is the unanimous favorite to win the regular season. The Friars, according to CBS and Sports Illustrated, are ranked behind the Bluejays, Villanova University, the University of Connecticut, and Xavier University to finish fifth in the conference. Yes, you read that correctly, last year’s regular season champions, who went to the Sweet Sixteen, lost to the eventual National Champions in the University of Kansas, have the Coach of the Year on staff, and the best homecourt in college basketball are predicted to finish fifth. There is some skepticism about if a roster like this will mesh like the one last year, but with all those pieces Cooley will without a doubt finish at least second or above this year. Not only will they be top three in the conference, but they will also be at least a six seed in the NCAA Tournament. All the concern about this team is how quickly the team chemistry will mesh on the court, and that is the sole reason why the “experts” chose other teams to finish higher. This team has the talent potential to match what happened last year and build off from that point. We all remember where these “experts” had Providence last year, Sports Illustrated: No. 6, ESPN: No. 7, CBS: No. 8. The team proved all these predictions wrong and took home the first Big East regular season title in school history and will look to do it once again as the smallest school in the Big East is still not given any respect. This, however, is the attitude that drives this school to be better, and winning always feels better this way.