"Ed Croswell, once again, had a cape on": How Ed Croswell took over in a massive week for Providence
Full disclosure: I wasn’t seeing it with Ed Croswell prior to this week. The LaSalle transfer came to Providence with a few monster nights against good competition under his belt (24 points and 18 rebounds against St. Louis and 14 and 10 versus Villanova jumped off the page when he committed to the Friars), but through a season, and a half dozen or so games, he had yet to make much of an impact at PC.
Croswell was slated to redshirt last season, but when the NCAA gave everyone an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, the plans for Croswell changed and he played right away.
Croswell played sparingly on a team that struggled to find its identity last season.
With his toughness, Croswell is helping to redefine Providence’s identity this year.
It’s not surprising that Croswell failed to make a difference chasing around smaller players against the likes of Fairfield and Sacred Heart at the beginning of this year, but even against bigger lineups in Virginia, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, Croswell did not make much of an impact.
Prior to his breakout against Texas Tech I thought back to assistant coach Bob Walsh lavishing praise upon Croswell prior to the start of the season, “I love Ed. He looks great. He’s such a tough kid — tough player, just a great kid. He really works at it. He’s one of those kids, he would sit on the side when somebody would be shooting or getting extra free throws and he would sit on the side with his water bottle and a ball and he would wait until they were done, and ask, ‘Hey, Coach, would you mind working with me?’ Then he’d stay an hour after practice… He has changed his body a little bit — he’s quicker, more mobile, leaner, he’s still physically tough. Ed’s got some skill too. He can face the basket, handle the ball a little bit, and he’s actually got good feel.”
Before that Texas Tech game I wondered if Providence would be better off giving Justin Minaya more minutes at the four and going with a three man rotation at the 4/5 spots with Minaya, Nate Watson, and Noah Horchler — at the expense of Croswell.
I questioned if maybe the staff was falling in love with the effort in practice, and if his work ethic was overshadowing the reality of what was taking place on the court.
Shows what I know.
Ed Cooley said it best after Croswell dominated Saturday’s 66-52 win over rival Rhode Island, “If Ed Croswell is not on the roster, we don’t win the last two games.”
Most likely not.
On Saturday, Croswell played his best game as a Friar, with 13 points (on 5-6 shooting, 3-3 from the free throw line), and 15 rebounds (8 on the offensive end).
Yet, it was the lift that Croswell provided in the first half that turned the tide of this game for good.
After running out to leads of 9-0 and 17-5, the Friar offense stalled — so much so that URI ripped off a 15-0 run to take a 20-17 advantage. Providence didn’t score from the 13:19 mark of the first half (when Minaya found Watson for a dunk on a beautiful pass) until Croswell scored inside with 5:54 on the clock.
Two minutes later, Croswell converted an and-1. Then AJ Reeves found him for a dunk with just under two minutes to go in the half to push PC ahead, 30-24.
Croswell later dunked home a miss in transition, and Providence was suddenly back in control at 32-24 with 1:39 left in the first half.
The Friars closed the first half on an 18-4 run of its own, sparked by the incredible play of Croswell who had nine rebounds (six offensive) in ten minutes of action. He was the biggest reason why PC held a 24-13 advantage on the glass in the first half, and a 13-4 edge on offensive boards.
Walsh was prescient when talking about Croswell’s game in the fall, “He gives us something we need, which is the ability to get easy baskets. He’s such a good offensive rebounder. When the offense isn’t working, or you aren’t getting great shots, and there is a struggle going on, he can get in there and muscle his way in to get a rebound and lay the ball in — and all of the sudden you feel like you’ve gotten two free points.”
That was certainly the case on Saturday, as Providence went nearly eight minutes without a point until Croswell turned the tide with his energy over the final six minutes of the first half.
Cooley called Croswell Providence’s player of the game after Wednesday’s narrow victory over a rugged Texas Tech frontline. Croswell went 5-5 from the floor, grabbed three offensive rebounds, and completely changed the tenor of a game in which PC trailed 27-13 early.
Fans were calling it “The Ed Croswell Game.”
After an even better performance Saturday, this became “The Ed Croswell Week.”
“Ed Croswell, once again, had a cape on,” Cooley said after the URI victory. “It takes a lot of mental toughness to do what Ed Croswell is doing, sitting behind — and actually out-playing him right now — a first-team all conference player. I’ve talked to Ed about this on numerous occasions, I’ve never coached a player that has hung in there and dealt with adversity, and when the bell is called he answers it (like he has). He’s done that the last two games.”
The Philadelphia native’s weekly stat line looks like this: 24 points, 10-11 shooting from the field, and 21 rebounds, in two games.
Croswell was understated when asked about his breakout week after taking over versus Rhode Island, “I just wanted to come out and play good basketball. Obviously, the crowd got me into it. It was a great crowd. I’ve never seen nothing like it. I was just out there playing basketball. I made some plays, made some mistakes, let it go, and kept moving on.”
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