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by Luke Sweeney '24
Our Providence College men’s basketball team has had a rather turbulent season this year, filled with towering highs and diminishing lows. Coming into this season, the nation was unsure on how the new-look Friars would perform in the ultra-competitive Big East conference with their roster of new transfers such as Devin Carter ’25, Noah Locke ’22GS, Jayden Pierre ’26, and Bryce Hopkins ’25. Fans and competitors alike were anxious to see how these new transfers would mesh with returning starters such as Alyn Breed ’24, Jared Bynum ’22GS, and Ed Croswell ’23. Tenured head coach Ed Cooley said in a press conference after a shaky win against Rider University earlier in November, “We’ll get a lot better. This is game one, with eight new guys. As you can see, we’re trying to teach each other.” In retrospect, Coach Cooley could not have been more correct. The regular season proved to be rather successful for the Friars. They finished with an overall 21–11 regular season record with a 13–7 record in Big East play. Notable victories during the season came in December and January with wins against Marquette University and the University of Connecticut within the same few weeks. February and March came as a difficult stretch for the team heading into the Big East Tournament. In these two months, the team went 4–6 against Big East opponents and were knocked out of the Big East Tournament in the first round in a hard-fought matchup against UConn.
Although the regular season ended the same way that it started, the Friars were able to land a spot as a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament against the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Additionally, the transfers for the Friars proved themselves to be top caliber players in the Big East, with Hopkins at one point being in serious conversation regarding the Big East Player of The Year. Carter, Pierre, and Locke all also had exciting seasons while finding their role in the starting lineup and proving that they each have the ability to play at the next level.
Heading into the tournament, the future of the 2023 season hangs in the balance. There was a question of whether or not the Friars would even be included in the NCAA Tournament this year due to their lack of success in the past month. Although placed at such a high seed, I wouldn’t be so quick to count the Friars out just yet. In recent years, No. 11 seeds have surprisingly found a great deal of success. Three were able to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2022 while two did so the previous year as well.
While Kentucky has an experienced squad with legendary coach John Calipari, this year’s Providence team is not to be taken lightly. The influx of transfers into the starting lineup along with returners Ed Croswell and Jared Bynum, there is a lot of tournament experience in the Friars locker room. We can’t forget about the brilliant coaching that Ed Cooley brings to the floor as well. With this being his 7th tournament appearance with the Friars, he is no stranger to these types of must-win first round matchups. They may not be what last year’s squad was, but the Friars have experience, good coaching, and a two-big lineup that matches well with Kentucky’s size.