Ben Bentil Has Morphed Providence Into a Contender

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 11th, 2016

It’s been a tumultuous season for Providence, one in which expectations have been adjusted and then readjusted seemingly every other game. Ed Cooley‘s team started the season well off the national radar but quickly climbed into the top 10 after several impressive wins before fading down the stretch. Tertiary players such as Rodney Bullock, Ryan Fazekas and Jalen Lindsey have demonstrated scoring abilities at various points this season, but each has been inconsistent. Meanwhile, junior star Kris Dunn has struggled with both illness and foul trouble; at times, both his minutes and productivity have been limited. All of these conditions could have left Cooley’s young squad without little in the way of offensive options, but that hasn’t materialized — for one big reason. Sophomore Ben Bentil has emerged in this offensive vacuum to lead the Providence, and in fact, the entire conference, in scoring. The Big East’s most improved player has earned loads of respect for his talent, but in most cases, that hasn’t translated into containment.

Ben Bentil Poured In 38 On Butler Last Night (Photo: USAT Sports)

Ben Bentil Poured In 38 Points To Help Providence Defeat Butler Last Night (Photo: USAT Sports)

Thursday’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal with Butler offered a perfect demonstration of the matchup nightmare Bentil has become. Too big for Butler’s wing players and too quick for its big men, the sophomore produced a near record-setting Big East Tournament performance: 38 points, seven rebounds and five made three-pointers. “From the beginning of the season, coach told me I’m going to be a match-up nightmare. I let that sink in. I did. I tried to take advantage of whoever was put on me, I tried to make the best out of it,” Bentil said after the game.

To say Bentil has improved from his freshman year would be selling things incredibly short. His per-game shot attempts have tripled since last season, and consequently, his scoring average jumped from 6.4 PPG to 21.2 PPG. But even with a dramatic increase in attempts, Bentil’s shooting efficiency has risen. A 70 percent free-throw shooter a year ago, he’s up to 79 percent this season. Bentil converted 51 percent of his shots at the rim last year; this season, he’s at 64 percent. A year ago he was a complementary interior player to Carson Desrosiers, generating most of his points from put-backs and free throws. Fast forward a year, and it has been Bentil — rather than the preseason National Player of the Year candidate, Dunn — who is the focal point of the Providence’s offense.

His diversified skill set has eased the pressure on Dunn to be a scorer, allowing him instead to focus on passing and pushing the tempo. At 6’9″ and a solid 235 pounds, Bentil is big enough to play in the low post, but his quickness enables him to beat most other power forwards in both positioning and rebounding. He’s also developed into a potent outside shooter, which forces defenders to chase him out of the paint. This inside-outside combination has left opposing coaches with little to do but throw their hands up. Butler’s Chris Holtmann was just the latest example.”Bentil is a five-man that plays almost like a three-man… We just had no answer.”

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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