The COVID-19 saga isn’t showing signs of slowing down, thus it’s important to choose one’s words carefully when talking about someone’s health.
Such is the case with Providence Friar basketball junior Jimmy Nichols. On Friday, PC announced that Nichols will be sidelined for an indefinite period of time due to a non-COVID medical condition.
Nichols did not play in Wednesday’s 60-43 home loss to Seton Hall. Afterwards, coach Ed Cooley stressed that Nichols’ absence had nothing to do with the coronavirus.
“He wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go,” Cooley said. “Everybody thinks if you’re sick right now, something is down with COVID. It’s not.”
Cooley said he was hopeful that Nichols would rebound in time for Saturday’s 2 p.m. home contest against habanero-hot St. John’s, yet that won’t be the case.
Nichols had started eight straight games prior to missing Wednesday’s contest. The Friars were 3-5 in games with Nichols in the starting five. Over that span, he scored in double figures twice. One of those times came on Jan. 12 at Marquette when Nichols was 3-of-3 from three-point territory for a career-best 12 points.
On the season, Nichols is averaging 6.1 ppg and 2.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes. He’s shooting 40% from 3 (9-for-20) and 85.7% from the foul line (12-of-14).
Noah Horchler started in Nichols’ place on Wednesday. He ended up sharing co-scoring honors with Nate Watson as both players finished with 10 points. Not having Nichols figures to mean an increased workload for sophomore Greg Gantt, who has started five games this season.
To date, the Friars have lost 31 games to injury/illness. Jared Bynum missed his seventh straight game on Wednesday as the sophomore point guard continues to deal with a groin injury.
“Very slow,” said Cooley when asked how Bynum was coming along after the Seton Hall game.
The slumping Friars (9-9, 5-7 Big East) will look to right the ship against a St. John’s outfit that’s on the opposite end of the Big East spectrum.
The Red Storm are riding a five-game winning streak that includes Wednesday’s impressive 70-59 win over No. 3 Villanova. St. John’s (12-7, 6-6 Big East) features a legitimate Big East Rookie of the Year candidate in freshman guard Posh Alexander (11.3 ppg) and the league’s No. 1 scorer in sophomore Julian Champagine (19.5 ppg).
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03