Bryce Hopkins posted his 3rd double-double of the season vs. Manhattan
By KEVIN McNAMARA
PROVIDENCE – Now this is what you’re supposed to do against the fluff on your basketball schedule.
After letting other also-rans dance with them a little too long this season, the Providence Friars took the Jaspers of Manhattan College to the woodshed Wednesday night and breezed to a 99-59 victory at the AMP. The 40-point win margin was easily the largest of the season.
Unlike other buy games where the Friars would jump out to a comfortable lead and then somehow let the opponent sneak back within striking distance, this affair owned an early knock down. Providence led 23-9 after an early 11-0 run and sat at a comfortable 46-26 lead with 3:41 still to go in the half.
The Friars led 53-32 at the break and had to feel happy about the offensive end of the floor. Cooley’s cats shot 63 percent with Bryce Hopkins attacking early and often for 15 points and 7 rebounds. Ed Croswell added 10 points off the glass, while Devin Carter’s energy game was on full display (9 points, 2 steals, 2 assists).
The final scoring totals were impressive as the Friars shot 57 percent from the floor and 72 percent (18-25) from the foul line. Five Friars reached double figures with Hopkins leading the way with his third double-double of the season at 22 points and 11 rebounds. Croswell pounded his way inside for 15 points, 6 rebounds and also picked up three of PC’s 13 steals. Devin Carter, Alyn Breed and Clifton Moore all added 12 points apiece.
While plenty of free-flowing offense ruled the day, Cooley always is demanding near-perfection on defense. That didn’t happen at the 3-point line where Manhattan (3-5) made 10-of-27 tries but overall this was a pretty dominating effort.
“This game had to be more about us than the opponent,” Cooley said. “These games when they get to double digit leads like that pretty early they can go one of two ways. It can go the way it went or some games we played in the past and you’re lackluster, you’re human so people play the score and not so much the improvement part. That’s always hard in coaching. I thought today our players responded to that.”
The main offensive weapon was, once again, Hopkins. The smooth forward bulled his way inside, drained two 3-pointers, made his way to the foul stripe and rebounded his position. That’s a pretty well-rounded night, the type Cooley says he’s demanding of his sophomore forward.
It was also good for the Friars to dip into their bench and see some players enjoy extended time. Redshirt freshmen Rafael Castro grabbed seven rebounds and Cooley said afterwards that his 6-10 big man “will be ready for the Big East.” That’s refreshing because the Friars will need his size – and that of the valuable Clifton Moore – along the front line. Croswell continues to clean the glass as the Friars rolled up a 51-21 advantage off the boards.
Friar fans also saw Corey Floyd come off the bench and play well with seven points. His physical nature is his calling card and Cooley needs to see more maturation from someone who can be a good player.
If there was a concern taken out of this affair it had to be the shooting of Jared Bynum. He missed all eight of his shots, some on driving layups and others out to the 3-point line (0-of-3). His shooting woes have become somewhat consistent but so have his ability to spread the sugar and set up his teammates. His eight assists and only two turnovers were good to see, as was PC’s 24 assists on 37 field goals.
Is It Over Yet?
Almost. The Friars’ final non-conference game of the season comes Saturday (2:30) against Albany. For anyone looking for a stern pre-Big East test, you’re out of luck. The Great Danes are 3-7 and a hideous 325 (out of 363) on the NCAA’s NET rankings. Manhattan is 319 on the NET.
PC’s seven non-conference home opponents have an average NET rating of 299, which is not good. Actually it is very poor. That will put a premium on major success in the Big East but Cooley just wants to take take care of Albany before he focuses on Big East openers at Seton Hall on Dec. 17 and vs. Marquette Dec. 20.