In our Big East tournament preview, Providence’s Josh Fortune was highlighted as a potential surprise for Ed Cooley & Co. at Madison Square Garden. The guard remained essentially a three-point specialist during his sophomore season, but unlike his first year at PC, Fortune was much more effective from beyond the arc, converting 36 of his threes (up from 28.9 percent in 2013). That improved shooting was on display during the Friars’ win over St. John’s yesterday: Fortune scored a career-high 24 points, making four of his seven three point attempts and carrying PC while Bryce Cotton suffered his first poor game arguably this season.
After the game, Cooley was effusive when describing Fortune’s game: “I think Josh is a big reason why we’ve grown the last five or six games. He doesn’t shoot the ball enough for me … If you leave [him] open, I think it’s going in every time he shoots it. So he’ll be shooting again tomorrow. If not, we’re going to have a fight.” I spoke with Cooley early this week, and the PC coach had to work hard with Cotton on learning how to balance scoring with setting up the other Friars, a concept it seems Cooley needs to teach to Fortune. When Cooley first took the job, he learned Cotton was the team’s best shooter, but he wouldn’t shoot the ball, preferring to defer. According to Cooley, “When he wouldn’t shoot the ball, I would make the team run, and so I told him he had to shoot unless the team would run.”
Fortune’s offensive appearance has lessened the load on primarily Cotton, but also Kadeem Batts, and as Fortune is able to take control of the Friars’ offense, PC could emerge as the Big East’s bid thief.