PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Bryce Hopkins will be at the center of conversation Friday night. The Kentucky transfer will get a chance to face his former team.

Below is a transcription of the questions and answered during his media availability prior to Tuesday’s practice at the Ruane Development Center. 

What do the Friars have to do to beat the Wildcats? 

Bryce Hopkins: Well, we’ve been watching a lot of film and we see that they are good in transition. They rebound a lot. Offensive rebounding is big for them. So we got to keep them off the glass and basically just slow them down in transition.

Is there a Big East team that they remind you of?

BH: I would say Xavier because Xavier plays pretty fast. They’re big. They rebound a lot. 

Rebounding issues in the last few weeks. This is one of the better rebounding teams in the country. What is the difference? 

BH: I think we just got to lock in and just whenever the shot goes up, turn around get a body on a man first and then go for the rebound. And just go from there. Try to keep Oscar (Tshiebwe) off the glass. I mean he’s a hell of a rebounder. We already know we got our hands full with that. We just got to come prepared. 

Did you match up matchup with Tshiebwe in practice? 

BH: Oh, yeah, I got caught up in a couple of switches. He’s very physical, very strong. Like I said he rebounds a lot. So you know it’s gonna be a tough matchup.

How much different is this year for you? 

BH: It’s very different. I mean, last year, I had a different role than this year. I’m gonna have a bigger role on the team and a better opportunity. So I’m gonna go out there and showcase my talents and you know hopefully come up with the win.

Do you expect (Kentucky) to come out with a lot of fire considering what happened at St. Peter’s last year?

BH: “For sure. (John Calipari) is gonna try to come out with a lot of firepower. He’s going to try to get that win.”

Bryce did you play in that game? 

BH: I didn’t.

How hard was it to sit there and watch them because you know how devastating that is to the whole state?

BH: It was devastating to watch. I think we were the number two seed and they were like the number 15 seed. You never want to get upset in the tournament and you got to be prepared to win and be prepared to play against anybody. It was tough to watch. I couldn’t help my teammates, but I’m pretty sure they’re coming out harder becasue they have a lot of players that felt that pain last year.

What did you learn from Coach Calipari? 

BH: Perseverance. Sticking through the tough times. I didn’t get the opportunity I wanted. I had to stay strong and be prepared mentally. He’s one of the best coaches in the world. I always just tried to take little bits and pieces from there and bring it over here.

Do you remember where you were mentally a year ago compared to now and just what’s the what’s the difference?

BH: It was very hard on me last year, you know, I was coming from high school, I had a lot of playing time, but you know, going into college is a whole different atmosphere. It was kind of hard on my mental. I felt like I could play but you know, I didn’t so I just had to figure out ways to have a positive mindset and get better each and every day.

Obviously, you’ve got some teammates you’ve played with. Have you talked to them at all? 

BH: As the bracket came out we found out we were faced up against each other. We’re sitting there on the edge of our seats. We’re in a group chat from last year so they were just talking to each other and just excited for the chance to play against them.

How active is that chat this year? 

BH: We haven’t really talked a lot. I mean, every now and then we’re gonna say what’s up but we’re not pretty active in it that much. But you know, once the seeding came out, we’re all talking about it and I’m excited for the matchup.

We saw Saint Peter’s get to the Elite Eight and how much they were celebrated. What was the aftermath like when you guys got (returned to Lexington)?

BH: A lot of disappointment. We didn’t have the result we wanted. We thought we’re gonna go on a deep run in the tournament. We felt like we had a lot of good pieces but we came up short of our goal of winning and making a deep run. It was just a lot of disappointment. We had to look past it and people went their separate ways to get ready for the next season.

Did you guys didn’t bother watching the rest of the games?

BH: I did, personally. I watched the rest of the teams because I like March Madness a lot.

Were you tuned in (to Providence)? 

BH: Oh, yeah. I pretty much knew after we lost that I was entering the transfer portal. And I knew Coach Cooley was one of my options. So I was trying to get a look to see how they played. It was amazing last year. I can see my glimpses of them last year and it’s pretty much the same way we have to play.

Do you have to play within yourself and not try to do too much?

BH: For sure. I can’t come up with too much because that’s when you get in trouble. People are saying it’s the Bryce revenge game but I just got to stay level-headed. Stay focused and do whatever my team needs me to do to win. I’m not going to come in and try to do too much because I feel like that’s gonna put us in trouble if I do. I’m gonna just let the game come to me and see how they guard me and stuff like that and go from there.

How do you walk that fine line between being aggressive, making sure you get to your spots and also letting the game come to you?

BH: I just feel like I just got to see how they’re guarding me. You know, if they’re pressing up I’m gonna still try to be aggressive look for my shot and stuff like that. But you know, as far as me like going out and trying to improve Coach Cal wrong that’s pretty much the least of my worries right now. We obviously just want to make a deep run in the tournament. So I feel like if I get caught up in all of that, it can turn south really fast and it can go bad. So I’m just going to focus on playing for my team.

How much do you guys feel rejuvenated having the opportunity to go into the tournament?

BH: Yeah, it’s a new opportunity for us. And you know, we’re all excited when our name got called. We’re all sitting on the edge of our seats before but you know, when we got our name called, we’re all excited. We felt like we had a new opportunity. So we’re gonna go out and try to take advantage of that and try to just keep on building enough momentum and come up with a win

How much can you take out of that second half against UConn?

BH: We can take out a lot. We showed a lot of great passion and resilience. We didn’t give up. We’re down 26 and we cut it to five points in 10 minutes which says a lot. I thought we did gotta come up out fast and we can’t get down because we have a tendency of doing that and digging yourself a hole. We’re gonna come out fast ( and we got to start off strong. It’s called PI with more of a sweet talker than Cooley. I think that’s a tough question. Oh, no. Thank you. Good. Thanks.