In an offseason that led to the loss of Ed Cooley and the addition of Kim English, the Providence Friars need to remain relevant in the Big East. A team with success the last two seasons, how will they fair with a new head coach? The article below previews their season.
Providence Friars Preview 2023-2024
Providence finished the season losing to Kentucky in their NCAA Tournament Match-up and had an up-and-down season. The Friars look to take a new leap with English.
Last Season’s Strengths
Providence defended the three effectively last season. They held opponents to only a 33.9% shooting percentage from three. More specifically, in Big East play, teams shot 31.1% against Providence from three. Now, defense may change with a new coach, but their personnel is good enough to bother teams on the perimeter. Their length and athleticism create advantageous opportunities for Providence’s defense on the perimeter. This strength must continue this season with teams like UCONN, Creighton, and Marquette, who shoot the three at a high clip.
Providence was a strong rebounding team with over a 6 rebound margin. In conference play, they ranked 4th in rebounds per game and offensive rebounding. Rebounding maximizes opportunities to win. More offensive rebounding keeps the ball out of the other team’s hands and gets another shot at an efficient offensive shot. If Providence continues to rebound the ball at a high level, success will follow.
In conference play, the Friars were 9th in turnovers and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio. Therefore, they took care of the ball because they had veteran guards. Experienced guards develop patience over their college careers, and make sound decisions with the basketball. Their ability to take care of the basketball allowed them to be in a position to win 21 games.
The Friars’ Weaknesses
While Providence possessed a strong starting five last season, their bench was not as strong. After their starting 5, there was a 6 point-per-game drop-off from the 5th leading scorer to the first guy on the bench. Therefore, Providence could not get a lot out of their bench to supplement the production from the starters. Furthermore, Providence only has 2 of their five leading scorers coming back, so there are questions about their ability to score for next season.
In a loaded Big East, Providence needs to score the basketball. While they bring back 2 of their top 3 scorers, they do not have an experienced or proven group alongside them. There needs to be growth from the other pieces.
Friars’ Top Returners
Bryce Hopkins – Forward, 6’7”, 220 LBS, SR
After transferring from Kentucky, Bryce Hopkins was productive last season for the Friars. He averaged 15.8, 8.5 rebounds and shot efficiently from the floor and three. Hopkins is versatile and creates his shot nicely from the Friars. Bryce has a chance to be one of the best forwards in the country if he remains consistent throughout the season. His offensive versatility, physical strength, and skill make him a force on the offensive end.
Devin Carter – Guard, 6’3”, 188 LBS, JR
A transfer from South Carolina, Devin Carter also made a positive impact for the Friars last season. Averaging 13 points and 4.9 rebounds, Carter is a tough guard to deal with going to the basket. He is shifty, athletic and a good finisher around the basket. Devin and Hopkins make a good returning duo for the Friars. Carter must improve his perimeter shooting as he only shot 29% from three. Nevertheless, Devin makes an impact because of his ability to break defenders down off the dribble.
New Additions for Providence
Josh Oduro – F/C, 6’9”, 228 LBS, SR
Josh Oduro is an excellent addition to pairing with Hopkins. Oduro averaged 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds on 55.1% from the floor. More specifically, 65% of Oduro’s field-goal attempts came out the rim, and he shot 65% on those possessions. An efficient and dominant inside player, Oduro was named A-10 All-First Team last year, and All-Third Team in 2021-2022. Additionally, Oduro was Second Team All-Region from NABC. Oduro brings inside scoring, rebounding, and size to match up with some of the better bigs in the conference. He is an improved passer and makes smart decisions out of the double teams. The inside scoring of Oduro, mixed with the versatile scoring of Hopkins, makes a tough forward duo in Rhode Island.
Justyn Fernandez – Guard, 6’5”, 200 LBS, SR
Justyn Fernandez is another George Mason Transfer to join Oduro at Providence. Fernandez did not shoot the ball great at George Mason last season, but he is explosive in transition. He helps speed up the tempo for the Friars and provides an explosive driver of the basket. Providence needs to get easy buckets throughout the game, and Fernandez’s athleticism and speed help with that.
Garway Dual – Guard, 6’5, 190 LBS, FY
Garway Dual is a great recruiting addition from Kim English. He ranked 37 in the Rivals’ 2023 Class Rankings. Dual averaged 16 points, seven assists, and three steals for Southern California Academy last season. Dual is a problem in transition: possessing a good basketball IQ, great length, and athleticism to finish around the basket. Garway is an impressive talent because he gets to the rim effectively and has a solid midrange game to go with it. If he gets his perimeter shot consistent, Dual will be an incredible player for Providence.
The Last Word on Providence
While it seems plausible that the Providence Friars take a step back this season, there is a good chance they compete well in the Big East. Hopkins, Carter, and Oduro all score and dominate the paint. Additionally, Dual is an excellent piece to pair with the big three. The Providence Friars are a sleeper team in the Big East, and it all comes down to offensive production and good coaching.