by Jeff Williams ’17
After a tough overtime loss to Seton Hall on Feb. 8, the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team had lost four of their last five games and were 4-9 after a great 10-2 start to the season. At 14-11 overall and 4-8 in the Big East, the future looked bleak for the Friar men. Since then however, PC has gone on an absolute tear, winning their last five games versus Butler, Xavier, Creighton, Marquette, and DePaul.
Kyron Cartwright ’18 and his teammates have risen to the occasion as the Friar engine roared to life. As the straw that stirs the drink, the floor general is a no-brainer for “Athlete of the Week.” He has done an exceptional job of stepping up as a leader after the departures of Kris Dunn ’16 and Ben Bentil ’18 to the NBA, an accomplishment he credits to having “confidence, [and] getting other people to believe in you.”
Cartwright is the school’s first ever sports media major, a discipline he is very enthusiastic about. “Hopefully, one day I can be a sports broadcaster. These are great people to be around.” While he enjoys being here in Providence, the proud California native does not enjoy Rhode Island drivers, whom he describes as “crazy.”
Despite the seemingly daunting odds, Cartwright and the team never gave up. As he reiterates, “We just had to focus and bounce back.” On Alumni & Family Weekend, Providence knocked off No. 22 Butler at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, 71-65. Cartwright played 37 minutes, scoring 14 points (including two for four from behind the arc) and dishing out seven assists. Four days later, playing host to Xavier, Cartwright led the way with 17 points and five assists to help mow down the Musketeers, 75-63.
The Friars traveled to Omaha on Feb. 22 to visit the No. 23 Creighton Blue Jays, who beat Providence earlier this year by double digits. The hosts used a 21-1 run to build a steady, consistent lead in the first half, but PC burst out in the second half to get back in the game. Down one point with only a few seconds left, the final play was chaotic. Rodney Bullock ’18 and Isaiah Jackson ’19RS were both heavily covered underneath. Somehow, Jackson managed to spot Cartwright. “Everybody but one got the ball, and Isaiah did a nice job of finding me…I hoped it would go in, and it did.” Cartwright proceeded to knock down a very long three pointer to nab a 68-66 victory.
On Saturday, unseasonably warm temperatures caused the Dunk floor to be dangerously wet and slippery for the game against Marquette. Nonetheless, Cartwright steadily directed his team to a key 73-69 victory, notching 16 points and eight assists. Despite the difficulty that he and his teammates had in staying upright, he aptly points out that, “Both teams had to play with that situation.” Three nights later, he recorded 14 and six on senior night for Casey Woodring ’17. “It was nice to get the win for him,” Cartwright added. The Friars proceeded to cruise by DePaul, 73-64 on Tuesday night.
It’s safe to say that Cartwright has had a breakout year, averaging 11.4 points per game, knocking down nearly 40 percent of his attempts from three point land, and doling out 6.8 assists a night, which is good for first in the Big East and fourth in the country. When pressed about his play, Cartwright is humble, “It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the best.” The Friars next play at St. John’s on Saturday, March 4, and will hope to make a run in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, which is March 8-11. Cartwright readily acknowledged that Saturday’s game will be a “classic Big East battle,” and will not think past them; “We’re just focused on St. John’s right now,” said Cartwright. With a five game winning streak and the play of Cartwright, the sky is the limit for the Friars.