Kevin McSports

PC gets by Lehigh as Hopkins & Oduro shine

PC gets by Lehigh as Hopkins & Oduro shine

Bryce Hopkins led the Friars over Lehigh with a season-best 25 points (Photo: PC Athletics)


PROVIDENCE – Any Providence Friar fan worried about rust on the offensive game of star forward Bryce Hopkins can rest easy. The big guy still has what it takes.

Hopkins flashed his full array of skills and sent a hearty holiday crowd of 11,397 home happy Friday night after a 78-64 win over Lehigh. The Friar star scored a season-high 25 points, hitting 10-of-16 shots, and grabbing 14 rebounds. Perhaps most importantly Hopkins didn’t lose the ball a single time on a turnover.

”I feel like with me it’s just playing for my teammates,” Hopkins said. “Coach (Kim English) has embedded that in us and (it can) take the pressure off myself. Like Coach says ‘the ball finds energy,’ so I try to play with a lot of effort. I know everything is coming to come so (I’m) just being patient.”

English said that while he took note of some of Hopkins struggles early this season, “our process doesn’t change. It’s continual growth.”

Well the Friar offense certainly grew in this one. PC shot 51 percent for the game and did the vast majority of its work inside with 52 points in the paint. The Friars finished 5-of-15 from the 3-point line as it became clear early that getting the ball to Hopkins and Josh Oduro (29 points, 13-of-18 FG) was the best way to secure this victory.

Hopkins came into the evening hitting just 31 percent of his attempts over the season’s opening five games and a meek 3-of-21 (14 percent) of his 3-point tries. He seemed to be too often tied up in knots, either driving too fast and risking adding to an annoying turnover total (3.2 per) or passing up open jumpers. He shot 8-of-27 with no threes on six tries in two games in the Bahamas but returned to the States only looking to polish his craft.

The Friars led by just 20-15 early on before Hopkins rocked the AMP with this above dunk. He strung together a similar array of scoring moves around the rim, found three teammates for scores and did not commit a turnover.

“Our film session (Saturday) will be no different than after the 3-for-15 Kansas State (game),” English said. “It’s what did you do well, what could you have done better, what areas can you attack, what should you do in this space. We learn and we grow and we improve.”

If Hopkins had a co-star on this night it certainly was transfer center Oduro. The burly Virginia native is adjusting to his new teammates with every game, or maybe it’s the other way around. Oduro actually sparked the Friar offense early with his array of interior scores, notching 10 of PC’s first 18 points. The Friars would pull out to a 41-29 halftime lead and while that advantage crested at 19 (72-53) with six minutes to play, Lehigh (1-5) would not quit until the final buzzer.

English noted that Hopkins, Devin Carter and Corey Floyd are playing for their third coach in three years. That’s three sets of basketball vocabulary, three sets of areas of focus and three very different offenses bouncing around each player’s head. After six games, he likes how everyone is falling into line.

“I’ve given Bryce a ton of grace,” English said. “He, Devin and Corey are playing for their third coaching staff in three seasons. That’s a lot. That’s a ton of adjustment, terminology, system, teammates, coaches, everything. I think these guys have been adjusting great, continuing to grow and find that shared purpose.”

Oduro has adjusted so well you wonder if it’s his teammates that need to adjust to him. Since the Wisconsin game, the Friars have needed to step up their game and Oduro has lit the fuse. He’s shooting 76 percent (39-of-51) over a stretch that includes the Badgers, Kansas State and Georgia.

“I think as a team we’re still learning what we want to do every day,” Oduro said. “We want to continue to stack games, stack practices and making sure we’re meeting our mark. We’re all adjusting and I think we’re doing really well.”


The Friars will face Wagner on Tuesday and then host the University of Rhode Island. We shall see if Jayden Pierre is part of the group. The team’s starting point guard missed his third straight game after injuring his groin muscle a week ago. English is clearly being cautious in order to avoid issues further down the line this season.

Garwey Dual started at point against Lehigh and was far from smooth. He made just one of his six shots and had two turnovers and three assists. Devin Carter finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Lehigh does not own a Division One win this season (did beat SUNY Oneonta) but was picked second in the Patriot League behind Colgate. Wagner (1-3) also doesn’t own a Division One win but has a chance Saturday against NJIT before coming to the AMP. URI (4-2) has a difficult test against Yale Sunday before having the rest of the week off before its test against Providence.



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