So far, the Providence Friars have shocked the country with their current success.
Projected to finish seventh in the Big East preseason poll, the Friars find themselves atop the standings two weeks into conference play. This is Ed Cooley’s best start (13-1) at Providence since Kris Dunn’s junior year and they already have matched last year’s win total. Not to mention, they’re riding high on an eight-game win streak; five of which have come by double digits. Providence has also found itself in the AP Top 25 for the first time since February 2016.
You can debate all day about who the true face of this team is, but Noah Horchler’s success on the floor cannot go unnoticed. The North Florida transfer has emerged as the perfect companion to Nate Watson down low. In his second season in Friartown, Horchler’s ability to stretch the floor has stood out along with his exceptional 3-point shooting. His 6-foot-8 frame forces opposing defenses to be very unbalanced. Horchler also leads the team in RPG while creating some highlight-reel plays with put-back slams and second-chance efforts. He’s also been a menace defensively, averaging about a block a game. You may not see Horchler’s name on an All-Big East team, but he has been a key part of this team’s success to start the year.
Junior guard Jared Bynum has shown some promising flashes this season. Despite missing four games due to an ankle injury, he’s returned a different player. In the last three stilts, he’s averaging 11.6 PPG while shooting 48 percent from the field. Bynum has also achieved an assist-turnover ratio of 4. The offense flows noticeably smooth with Bynum as the ball carrier and Friar fans should be very excited about what he’ll bring to the table for the rest of the season.
The Friars’ defensive effort has also been stifling. They rank second in the Big East in opponent PPG allowed, only behind Butler. Ed Cooley’s team also ranks among the Top 35 teams in the land in opponent FG%. Alright, enough of the statistics. The bottom line: This team plays with physicality and heart, which is something they lacked last season. The Friars’ résumé is also packed with a pair of wins over ranked opponents and is an impressive 6-0 against Quad 1 teams.
Providence now occupies the 16th spot in the latest AP Poll, tied with Kentucky. This team has the potential to be dangerous at Madison Square Garden in March at the Big East Tournament. The Friars will travel to Wisconsin as they look to continue their dominance on Tuesday night against a desperate Marquette squad.
If this year’s been any indication, Marquette had better wise up and be prepared for a limitless Friar team.