by Joe Quirk '23
Joseph Quirk ’23
In sports, the offseason is usually a time of hope. It is a period when coaches, fans, and players alike can look ahead and be filled with anticipation for the season to come. It is the time when expectations are usually at their peak. And, because of this, it can also be a time that sets everyone up for disappointment. If the lofty expectations formed by the promises of growth and development in the offseason are not met, then many can feel unsatisfied. Luckily for both the Providence College men’s and women’s basketball teams, neither program should feel disappointed this season.
The PC women’s basketball team came into their offseason off a disappointing 2021-2022 season. The Friars, led by head coach Jim Crowley, went just 11–19 that season, and 6–14 in Big East play. The Friars had hoped for a better finish, and with the departures of Julia Fabozzi (transfer), Mary Baskerville (graduate transfer), and Alyssa Geary (graduate transfer), the Friars would be losing some major contributors. However, there was still hope that the 2022-2023 iteration of the Friars would be an improved team. The Friars added two big transfers in graduate forward Logan Cook ’23 GS from the University of Iowa and Brynn Farrell ’24 from the University of Florida. Farrell ’24 played at Florida for two years, never gaining consistent opportunities due to injury, but as a former four-star recruit and top 200 recruit it is hard to deny her talent. Cook was a four-year contributor to a very talented University of Iowa team and brought much needed experience to the Friars. The Friars also expected to gain veteran experience from returning senior guard Janai Crooms ’23 who transferred to PC for the 2021-2022 season. Prior to arriving at PC, Crooms had played at Ohio State University and Michigan State University, and she quickly established herself as a premier contributor after arriving in Friartown. Their experience and leadership were to be needed, as the Friars returned a very young and developing team. Six freshmen returned for their sophomore seasons and looked to be big contributors. Sophomores Olivia Olsen and Kylee Sheppard are two of the top three scorers on the team, averaging 11.8 and 9.8 points-per-game respectively. The only Friar averaging more is Crooms who is averaging 12.1 PPG. Crooms also leads the team in rebounding and assists, with Olsen second in rebounding and Sheppard second in assists. These three are also the top three in steals and blocks for the team. The Friars can also shoot the ball very effectively this season. Transfer Brynn Farrell ’24 and returning sophomore Meghan Huerter lead the team in three-point field goal percentage (minimum of 50 three point shot attempts). They shoot .368 and .358 respectively, both with over 80 three-point attempts. This team is very deep this year with young contributors and coach Jim Crowley has really developed the talent in this group. This has culminated in a 12–9 record and a 3–7 record in Big East play. While the Big East record doesn’t seem phenomenal at first, it must be said that two of their seven losses were to top-25 ranked teams – the University of Connecticut and Villanova University. The Friars also defeated a ranked Creighton University in what may be their win of the year. The Friars still have plenty of time to catch up in the Big East, and look very promising to do so seeing that they have already surpassed their overall win total from last season. The sophomores and juniors on this team have really stepped up and become major contributors for this program. If the Friars can get consistent with their play, they can not only become a force in the Big East this season, but in seasons to come.
The men’s program had a bit of a different offseason. The Friars had an all-time season in 2021-2022, becoming a top-10 program in the country, winning the first Big East regular season championship in school history, and advancing all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. However, the team was going to look very different the following season. The team lost stars Nate Watson, Al Durham, Noah Horchler, A.J. Reeves, and Justin Minaya to graduation. That group made up the Friars starting five. PC also lost Matteus Case, Brycen Goodine, and Legend Geeter to the transfer portal. Many questioned how the team could possibly follow up such a historic season with so many contributors leaving the program. Jared Bynum ’23 GS and Ed Croswell ’23 GS would both be returning after breakout seasons, however neither played much in the starting rotation and would now have to step in and replace Durham and Watson. But head coach Ed Cooley went to work, reloading the arsenal of talent and making PC competitive again. He brought in guards Quante Berry ’26 and Jayden Pierre ’26. Pierre has played an especially pivotal role off the bench this season, performing well as a backup guard while Bynum has been out dealing with an injury suffered during the Friars major victory over No. 4 UConn. Junior guard Alyn Breed has also stepped up, playing well in his role as a distributor and defender. Coach Cooley also recruited some major transfers. Guards Corey Floyd Jr. ’25 and Devin Carter ’25 look like they can be crucial pieces for the program’s future, especially Carter ’25 who has had some big games on both ends of the floor starting for the Friars this season. Transfer center Clifton Moore ’23 GS has stepped in and played solid in Croswell’s old role off the bench. Noah Locke ’23 GS has also been a revelation, replacing the shooting lost by losing Reeves. Locke’s breakout performance came this past Saturday against DePaul University, when he dropped 29 points on 11–17 shooting from the field and 7–12 shooting from three-point range. The star transfer, however, has been Bryce Hopkins ’25, who came to PC from the University of Kentucky. Hopkins was a four-star recruit and top 40 in his class when he chose the Wildcats over the Friars. However, after not seeing much playing time in his freshman campaign, Hopkins transferred to PC. This season, Hopkins has been a double-double machine and has shown the ability to score at all three levels, make plays very well for a forward, and be a beast cleaning the glass. His explosiveness and ability to handle the ball in transition have made him quite the weapon. After being picked to finish fifth in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll, the Friars currently sit third in the Big East standings. They are just half a game behind Marquette University and one game behind Xavier University. The Friars currently sit at 15–5 overall, and 7–2 in conference play. After their huge win over the then No. 4 UConn Huskies, the Friars were ranked for the first time this season in the AP Polls, and currently sit at No. 23 nationally. The Friars started Big East play 6–0 for the first time in school history, continuing the trend of breaking records from last season. The Friars have cooled down a bit, losing two of their last three both on the road against Creighton and Marquette. However, the Friars are looking to heat up again and make a run at a second consecutive Big East regular season championship and NCAA tournament bid.