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Big East Preview: Providence

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Creighton
Good Coach?
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Providence Friars had an up and down year that was mostly dictated by how much help their stars could get. David Duke and Nate Watson rarely had poor showings but the supporting cast wasn’t always able to step up enough. This led to a 13-13 record and losing to DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament. Coming off a meiocre season and losing David Duke doesn’t look too promising but Nate Watson does return for his bonus year and if he gets a reliable supporting cast could help the Friars overachieve this season.

Looking Ahead

As previously mentioned, David Duke is out and Nate Watson remains a Friar. Watson was nothing short of a beast last year. He shot 60% fom inside the arc and crashed the offensive glass hard. His defensive rebounding could’ve been better for a man his size but he was usually too busy blocking shots to let that bother him. Noah Horchler returns after a season where he shot 42% from 3 and posted solid rebounding numbers. He will probably see a much larger role this season as Duke was the only other player who had a good season from deep. AJ Reeves could provide another threat from 3 but his numbers dipped last season on higher usage. All three of these guys took good care of the ball on offense but are pretty one dimensional with how they score. A couple other returners are Alyn Breed and Jared Bynum who both could not shoot to save their lives last season but Bynum posted the second best assist rate on the team.

Al Durham transfers in from Indiana to help out the shooting in the backcourt. He shot 38% from 3 last season, shot well from the line and didn’t turn the ball over much on offense. Justin Minaya comes in from South Carolina where he played a lot of minutes but didn’t use many possessions. He is a capable scorer inside the arc but shot only 23% from three. Matteus Case is a transfer from Penn who didn’t have a season last year due to the Ivy League cancellation. It’s hard to get a read on what he’ll bring since he hasn’t played a college game yet but he played well as a guard for a high ranked prep school and apparently has enough talent to get Ed Cooley interested.

What’s the Verdict?

It’s not a hot take to say that this team will be led by Nate Watson. He was a monster last season with a lot of teams throwing multiple defenders at him. The big question will be whether or not the supporting cast will be enough. Noah Horchler and AJ Reeves will have to try to fill the scoring void left by David Duke. Both are capable shooters and should find space when Watson gets doubled or has defenders dig. Breed and Bynum will both have to shoot much better this year to be anything but liabilities on offense. Bynum dished assists last year but will struggle with teams not respecting his jumper. Al Durham could be the difference maker for this team. He has played for an Indiana team that has been decent the past few seasons and shoots well while not forcing his way into the offense. Preseason polls have Providence in 7th and that seems fair as they have a bonafide star in Nate Watson but lack the quality to make a push toward the top of the conference.