The new-look Providence Friars opened up their 2016-17 campaign Monday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center and came out with a 22 point victory over the Vermont Catamounts.
Despite looking drastically different without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil leading the way, the Friars’ newcomers impressed in their Providence debuts.
Led by Emmitt Holt’s 22 points and Kyron Cartwright’s 12 assists, the Friars held off the sharpshooting American East Conference favorites. Alongside Rodney Bullock’s 18 points, Providence shot 62.5% in the second half to help extend their 6 point halftime lead.
Here’s what we learned from the Friars’ season opener.
Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt will provide a large scoring punch for the Friars this season
As most people assumed throughout the offseason, Rodney Bullock will be the spearhead of Ed Cooley’s offense. Early in the first half, he was aggressive in getting to the hoop and did not shy away from pulling up from outside. Finishing with 18 points (6-13 from the field), Bullock got off on the right foot to start the season. He’ll need to keep that up if the Friars want to find success.
Transfer Emmitt Holt impressed mightily going 8-12 from the field for 22 points. Using his body well as a strong presence inside, it became clear early that the Friars will look for him to be a consistent contributor in their offense. His impact on the defensive side of the ball (alongside Kalif Young) was also felt as the two newcomers combined for 7 blocks.
The Friars are a work in progress
As great as Providence’s season opening win was, it is clear that the young Friars still have plenty of work to do. Freshmen Kalif Young, Maliek White, and Alpha Diallo were all able to play double-digit minutes and get their sea legs under them in their first regular season game. The returning vets will carry the load for this team, but Ed Cooley will need his young guns to contribute as well.
Mixing-and-matching lineups throughout the game was a common theme. Consistency is tough to come by with such a young lineup, but finding their groove as they go forward will be vital for the Friars. Kalif Young struggled at times offensively, but that comes along with settling into your freshman season. The young guns will ideally continue to improve, the vets (like Cartwright) will continue to contribute, and Cooley will continue to learn about his new group.
Ed Cooley will make use of his depth
Last season the Friars relied heavily on their starting five and not much else. However, this season will be a much different story. Providence had nine players play double-digit minutes tonight, and it was clear that Cooley enjoyed his ability to dive into his bench. Using his reserves to his benefit will help the Friars down the road this season and will have Friar fans singing a different tune in regards to their bench.