After a disappointing 2021-2022 season that ended with a 11–19 record, the pressure was on for the Providence College women’s basketball team to return to being a competitive basketball team, one looking to make a run in the Big East and maybe even the women’s NCAA tournament.
Well, just a season later, the Friars sit at a phenomenal 6–2 after a three-game win streak this past weekend. From Friday, Nov. 25-27, the Friars hosted the “Friar Thanksgiving Classic” in Alumni Hall and won all three of their matchups. This week’s “Athlete of the Week” had a significant impact in all three victories.
Guard Janai Crooms ’23 transferred to Providence last year from Michigan State University. Prior to Michigan State, she began her career at the Ohio State University after being recruited as a four-star recruit and the No. 36 player in the Class of 2018 according to Prospect Nation. After a strong first season at PC, she was poised to become a veteran leader with a relatively young team this season. In the Friars’ first game of the season, against Dayton University, Crooms scored her 1,000th career collegiate points, making her the 37th player in program history to do so.
The first game of the Thanksgiving tournament was played on Friday, Nov. 25 against Hartford University. The Friars won that game with ease, by a score of 60–30, and Crooms played a big role in it. While her scoring numbers don’t jump off the page, with just six points in the contest, she shot very efficiently and selectively, going two-for-three from the field. But a majority of her impact was done everywhere else on the court. With guard Kylee Sheppard ’25 still limitedfrom an ankle injury, Crooms took on a load of the playmaking, tossing six assists to her teammates. She also added in an absurd nine rebounds, two blocks, and a steal, numbers that one would expect more from a forward or center,not a guard.
The next day, the Friars faced Weber State University and once again won by a decent margin and a score of 62–55. Once again, Crooms went crazy on the glass, bringing in an incredible 17 rebounds, four of which were offensive. She also added another block, two steals, five assists, and eight points.
In their final game, the Friars faced crosstown neighbor Bryant University. Once again, the Friars won comfortably by a score of 85–60, by far the highest scoring game of the three. And that was reflected in Crooms’ play as well, as she led the team in scoring this round with 19 points. She once again had an amazing 13 rebounds and her seven assists put her on triple-double watch.
Her impact in these three victories cannot be understated. These three games comfortably put the Friars above .500 and set their season off well, Crooms making a significant impact in each. She picked up the playmaking responsibilities of an injured teammate, prioritizing scoring less and setting up her team’s offense more. As the Friars get deeper into the season, that connectivity will matter significantly. She was also a defensive monster, playing a large part in holding both of the Friars’ first two opponents under 60 points. She had immaculate rebounding efforts in all three games, something that is massively important in limiting opponents and creating scoring chances and second-chance plays. Yet, when the Friars needed her to step up offensively, she would answer the call with ease and efficiency. That is why she is this week’s “Athlete of the Week.”