Jan. 26, 2014
By SEAN BRENNAN
In our latest installment of "Getting to Know...," we have ourselves a little chat with the leader of the hottest team in the BIG EAST, Providence College senior guard Bryce Cotton. He lets us in on why he plays his college ball so far from his Tucson home, why getting a breather during a game is not an option for him and how he views himself away from the basketball court. (Here's a hint: It rhymes with "herd.")
BIGEAST.com: So you're from Tucson, Arizona and you enjoyed a great career at Palo Verde HS. How is it that you had to venture all the way to Rhode Island to play your college ball?
COTTON: "I didn't have any scholarship offers. I had one D-I and one D-II offer so when Providence offered me I felt I had to seize that opportunity. Plus I always wondered what it would be like to play basketball back East anyway."
BIGEAST.com: So no West Coast schools recruited you or made any scholarship offers. Do you think they're sorry now after the career you've had with the Friars?
COTTON: "I don't know. There are a lot of West Coast schools that are doing very well without me. I just focus on what I can do (for Providence). I don't really think about it."
BIGEAST.com: Bryce, you're something of an iron man. You average over 39 minutes a game a game and in your last four games - wins over Xavier, Butler, Creighton and a double-OT win over St. John's - you played all 170 minutes. What is your secret?
COTTON: "It just comes down to being mentally strong and believing that you can do that, you know what I mean? I think that's my biggest attribute, being strong mentally."
BIGEAST.com: Providence struggled in the BIG EAST in your first two seasons but finally seemed to turn the corner last season when it went 9-9 in conference play. Is this a program on the rise now, especially coming off some very impressive wins over Creighton and Xavier?
COTTON: "Yeah I think so but honestly you just have to go out there and continue to play and prove yourself night in and night out."
BIGEAST.com: Because Providence has struggled up until last season, and because there are three new basketball audiences in the conference this season with Creighton, Xavier and Butler, might there be a lot of people outside New England that may not know who Bryce Cotton is?
COTTON: "Maybe but I feel it's starting to get out there a little bit because we're winning and that's drawing a little bit of attention. But obviously the most important thing is that we continue to win. That's my first priority and I'll do anything I can to help the team win. If people notice me then that's fine but that's not the reason I bring my `A' game every night."
BIGEAST.com: OK, you lead Providence in scoring, you lead in assists, you're tops in free throw percentage and in made three-pointers and you're second on the team in steals. Is there anything you don't do well on the basketball court?
COTTON: "(Laughs). I don't know. I'll leave that to other people to decide."
BIGEAST.com: Providence is now 11-1 at home this season with a one-point loss to Seton Hall as your only home loss. Is the Dunkin' Donuts Center becoming one of those arenas that opponents are starting to dread coming into to play?
COTTON: "Yes, I think it is. Especially in conference play we like to create a hostile environment for our opponent. For us it's just a great environment to be in. It's a great home court advantage."
BIGEAST.com: Providence was picked sixth in the BIG EAST preseason poll and now here you are sitting in a tie for third place in the conference and not far off the pace behind Villanova and Creighton. Are the Friars the surprise team of the conference this season?
COTTON: "Maybe but it you have to prove yourself night in and night out and play and win consistently to make people believe in you. This season is a turning point in our program so we just have to keep pushing forward and see how far we can bring this thing."
BIGEAST.com: Obviously anyone who follows the BIG EAST and college basketball closely knows what you can do on the court. But tell me something about Bryce Cotton that people may not know.
COTTON: "(Laughs). Well, I guess it would be that I'm a nerd. I really like school. (Bryce is majoring in sociology).
BIGEAST.com: What are you hoping to do when your career at Providence is over? COTTON: "My plan is to play in the NBA. That's my goal and my mission."
BIGEAST.com: Have you received any information from anyone or heard any rumors on if or where you might be drafted?
COTTON: "No but that's not something I want to be thinking about at this point because we still have a whole lot of basketball left in this season. Right now I have to devote all my attention to this season and this team and whenever that's over then I can start thinking about that."
BIGEAST.com: Where do you see the Friars being come March when the BIG EAST tournament rolls into the Garden and on Selection Sunday? Is Providence going to be in the middle of all that March craziness?
COTTON: "Absolutely. When this team is really clicking like we are now, anything is possible. That's been our goal since Day 1. This team hasn't made it to an NCAA Tournament game