On the whole, Providence coach Ed Cooley is pleased with where his team stands at the end of non-conference play as the Friars visit Seton Hall for both teams’ Big East opener Saturday in Newark, N.J.

“I think we’ve got a feel now of who we are,” Cooley said on his radio show Thursday. “What we’re good at, what we’re gonna have to continue to improve on, of which I think we’re improving at a slower pace than I want. Yet I’m definitely seeing some progress with the group as a whole.”

The key matchup figures to be the Friars’ potent offense against the Pirates’ stingy defense.

Both Providence (8-3) and Seton Hall (7-4) enter on three-game winning streaks; the Friars are averaging 93.3 points per game during their streak and the Pirates have allowed just 49.0 points per game during theirs.

Providence ranks 39th nationally in KenPom.com’s offensive efficiency metric, while Seton Hall is 27th in defensive efficiency.

“I feel our offense, for the first time in a long time, is ahead of our defense,” Cooley said. “So it’s the things we’re concentrating on right now in our preparation as we get ready to play a really, really physical Seton Hall team. They do a great job defending, so hopefully our offense is prepared for that.”

In their last outing, the Friars routed Albany 93-55 on Saturday. Powered by Ed Croswell (18 points) and Rafael Castro (12 points, 10 rebounds), six players scored in double figures. Bryce Hopkins leads Providence in both scoring (14.9) and rebounding (8.5), followed by Croswell in both categories (11.8, 6.6).

The Pirates took care of Drexel 66-49 on Wednesday, but coach Shaheen Holloway was unhappy with how they finished the game. They led 49-18 with 12:38 to go before Drexel strung together several 3-pointers to get back within 11.

“If you want to be a good team, you can’t finish games like that,” Holloway said. “You’ve got to be able to take the next step. I’m disappointed because we’ve got a bunch of older guys but we’re still very immature. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to watch this and grow from it and get ready for Saturday.”

Dre Davis and Tray Jackson scored 12 points apiece to lead Seton Hall. Davis and Al-Amir Dawes both average 11.3 points per game.

–Field Level Media