A banner season for Providence is now in the past.
After going 27-6, winning their first-ever Big East regular-season crown and earning an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the Friars will begin a new campaign Tuesday against visiting Rider.
Reigning Naismith Coach of the Year Ed Cooley’s roster lists 14 players, eight of whom are newcomers. Seven became Friars as transfers.
“When you look at chemistry, it’s valuing what we do well and understanding our weaknesses so we can come together and try to improve,” Cooley said. “Chemistry is everything to me. If you have that, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity to have success.”
Leading the way will be graduate point guard Jared Bynum, whose 15.6 points per Big East game were the fifth-most in the league.
A former Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) transfer, Bynum became the first Big East player in 25 years to record three 25-point games off the bench in the same season.
In the new season, he will be the go-to man.
“Last year is last year, something good to talk about and look back on,” Bynum said. “But we have to focus on now, not the past.”
Kentucky transfer forward Bryce Hopkins has assimilated nicely. He had 14 and 17 points in exhibition wins over Division II American International and Assumption, respectively.
After upsetting top-seeded Iona, Rider’s 2021-22 season ended in its first MAAC semifinal since 2011. It finished 14-19 (8-12 MAAC).
The Broncs return four starters and 74 percent of their scoring from a season ago, led by Dwight Murray Jr., who logged 13.1 points and a league-leading 4.7 assists per game. Murray, Mervin James and Allen Powell were all selected to All-MAAC preseason teams.
“We’ve got some returning guys that still have that fire,” coach Kevin Baggett said. “Now, we’ve got to get all the other guys who are new … going and understanding the sense of urgency this year.”
Three transfers have Division I experience, including forward Allen Betrand, who missed last season at Rhode Island with an ACL tear.
All-time, the Friars are 84-11 in season openers and 4-1 against Rider. The teams last met in 2017.
–Field Level Media