Farewell Keno Davis!

There is absolutely no secret that I have been calling for Keno Davis to either resign or be fired from his position as head coach of the Providence College Men’s Basketball team since last summer. ¬†The Friars haven’t performed well on the court and have been even worse off of it. Many of you will say that I am being too hard on him for what has happened with his players off the court, many of you will say that what happens off the court has no impact on the program and its all about winning ball games, and some of you will agree with me.

Keno Davis has destroyed the once proud Providence College basketball program in what has been a long three years. ¬†In those three years he is 46-50. ¬† 19 of those wins came in his first seasons with Tim Welsh’s roster. He was unable to win a game on the road in the Big East this season, the only team in the conference to do so. ¬†His team was responsible for Depaul’s only win. ¬†The Friars were notorious for getting down 20 and having to fight back in the end only to come up short dozens of times over the last three years.

Off the court the Friar basketball team has blatantly embarrassed a school that “encourages the deepest respect for the essential dignity, freedom, and equality of every person.” ¬†It started with Johnnie Lacy and James Still beating up a student because “they felt like beating someone up.” ¬†Well congratulations, you dislocated an innocent student’s frontal lobe. Jamine Peterson was booted from the school after an incident on campus that was rumored to be hosting a party for 15-16 year old’s providing weed, alcohol, and strippers. ¬†I won’t comment on that to heavy because it is rumors but I am sure that President Reverend Brian Shanley wouldn’t be thrilled to hear his dorms were turning into settings for rap music videos.

The problems continued when Kadeem Batts was arrested for disorderly conduct outside a Providence night club. ¬†The charge was dismissed after he did some community service. ¬†During the season, Gerard Coleman was suspended for the UCONN game because he fell asleep during class. ¬†Sadly my take on that was, “Hell at least he went to class.” Later on in the season the star of the team Marshon Brooks was benched to start a game for undisclosed reasons. ¬†The frosting on the cake for Keno? Duke Mondy hasn’t played in the last five games of the season due to whats rumored to be an incident with another female student. ¬†I haven’t even mentioned the Joseph Young and Ricardo Ledo recruiting fiascos.

I honestly think if it hadn’t been for the Mondy incident, Keno would have had one more last chance next season. ¬†Matt, my colleague on this blog, will argue with me until he is blue in the face that the off court problems had nothing to do with Keno. ¬†That these problems were out of his control. ¬†I started to believe him for a time but then the incidents just kept happening.

My earliest memories of PC basketball (live, not the tapes of Pitino and Donovan) were the days of Barnes, Gillen, and then Welsh. ¬†I remember those coaches for coaching Eric Murdock, upsetting Duke and making a run to the elite eight in the tournament, for Ryan Gomes and bringing a top ranked Texas team to the buzzer at the Dunk. ¬†I don’t remember any of these teams making more news off the court than they did on. ¬†Keno has zero control of his program. He turned PC into a school for thugs, hoods, people with no regard for anyone but themselves. ¬†These kids didn’t care that they were getting a full ride. ¬†They didn’t care that more students get rejected than accepted to PC. ¬†They didn’t care that kids who have SAT scores in the 1100’s were getting rejected so they could come in and play basketball. ¬†All they cared about was where they could party and focus on how much they love themselves.

It is expected that come Monday, Keno Davis will no longer be the head basketball coach of the Friars.  Names will be thrown around all spring and summer long as to who will be on the sidelines next season.  Early candidates include Pittsburgh assistant coach Pat Skerry (who may hold out for a bigger job), PC alums Jim Larrnagua (who some say is too old for the job), Ken McDonald (who I wanted three years ago), former URI and BC head coach Al Skinner, and then long shots that I just like to dream about in Rick Pitino and Bobby Knight.

No matter who the PC decides to bring in, that person can not possibly be any worse than Keno Davis. ¬†It is my hope for the program that they can bring in someone who will generate buzz and get the fans of Friartown who soured on the program because of Davis back into the seats of the Dunk. ¬†Once upon a time there was nothing better to do in Rhode Island in the winter, than to go to a Providence Friar basketball game. ¬†I hope those days are coming back with the end of the Davis “error.”

I can be followed on Twitter @Scottientcf  but you already knew that

Big East Game #8: Providence 83 Villanova 68

Last night the Villanova Wildcats came into The Dunk fresh off a win at #3 Syracuse. ¬†They have a game Saturday against #20 Georgetown at home. ¬†Problem is, they had a game last night against a lowly Providence Friars that they didn’t show up for. ¬†The Friars jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes and never looked back making it two wins in a row against ranked teams for the first time since 1998.

I had numerous chances to go to the game last night but passed them up to watch the game at home with my father. ¬†He wasn’t prepared for my newfound way of cheering for the Friars. ¬†I have become Randy Quaid from Major League 2. ¬†After faithfully following the Friars for about 15 years, I have gotten to the point where I realized ¬†that PC plays everyone tough for 37 minutes and then blows the game in less than 3. ¬†I have become negative and always looking for what’s wrong and jumping on Keno Davis every chance I get.

Last night, was a night where my father was right and I was wrong. ¬†I was furious in the beginning of the first half with PC’s shot selection. ¬†They took 10 threes in the opening 9 minutes of the game. ¬†I remember saying “Here we go, live by the three, die by the three.” My father came back with: “I like this strategy, it has Villanova back on their toes and now they are trying to mimic what PC is doing.” ¬†Point to pops on that.¬†Villanova definitely fell into the trap of playing some helter skelter basketball, shooting 32% from the field and 18% from downtown.

I also didn’t like Keno going with a four guard set. ¬†I even tweeted, “Well, now we are going to get killed on the boards.” ¬†(Villanova had 21 offensive rebounds). ¬†The problem is that Bilal Dixon has been useless this season and has forced Keno’s hand into playing a lineup that puts Marshon Brooks at the 4. ¬†I was thinking Villanova would be able to handle Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council because they have two of the best guards in the country in Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher. ¬†I was wrong again as the Corey’s were a combined 4-26 from the field, 1-13 from 3, and combined for 14 points.

Marshon Brooks has to be commended for still having a solid game despite being clearly off all night.  He was 0-8 from downtown and 4-15 from the floor but was still able to create offense for himself by getting to the charity stripe 14 times and hitting 12.  He had 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals on his 22nd birthday.  A win over the #7 team in the country is a nice way to celebrate.

The next big name in Providence will be Gerard Coleman, if it isn’t already. ¬†He was the offense in the first half of the Louisville game and he played great last night. ¬†It seems every year Providence has one freshman that gets Friartown all excited and sets the pace for the next four years. ¬†I
love this Coleman kid.  He had 16 points last night and is a lot of fun to watch on the break with Vincent Council.

Speaking of Council, (he being that freshman last year that I was excited about) he had a stat stuffing night with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. ¬†He was also 3-4 from three point land and although erratic at some points in the game, he overall wasn’t bad. ¬†He is still learning how to control a game and understanding when it push the ball up the court and when to slow things down.

The bottom line after this past week for the PC Friars is that they now know how to win. ¬†They know how to close out ball games. ¬†Something they haven’t done since the days of Ryan Gomes. ¬†It will be sad to see Marshon go, as he was the one constant during a time of turmoil in the PC program. ¬†But otherwise, as Keno reminds us every fifteen minutes, this is a very young team making the present a learning experience but the future very bright. ¬†But hasn’t that been the case the past 4-5 years?

NEXT UP: @SETON HALL, SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2PM.

 

I can be followed on Twitter at ScottieNTCF

2010-2011 Providence College Friars – Pre-Big East Review

WHAT I SAW: Coming into this season, there were few Friar fans that had high hopes for the 2010-2011 PC men’s basketball team.  The Friars roster consists of two seniors, Marshon Brooks and Ray Hall (I’m excluding Chris Carter), and the remaining 13 players are either sophomores or freshmen.  Even with sophomores Vincent Council, Bilal Dixon, and Duke Mondy seeing significant time the previous season, this team was as green as they come.  In order for the Friars to have any sort of success, they needed Marshon Brooks and Vincent Council to lead the team, and then receive significant contributions from Dixon, Mondy, and members of their freshman recruiting class (particularly Gerard Coleman).  So, what did we get?  Marshon Brooks is tenth in the country in scoring (second in the Big East) averaging 23.1 points per game and accompanies that with nearly nine rebounds and three assists per game.  Vincent Council is eighth in the nation, averaging nearly seven assists per game to go along with sixteen points and five rebounds.  Freshman Gerard Coleman is third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.4 points per game.  Redshirt freshman Kadeem Batts and Bilal Dixon have controlled the paint (when they have stayed out of foul trouble) defensively and have rebounded on both sides of the court.  Duke Mondy continues to improve defensively, and is beginning to find his stroke from beyond the arc.  Contributions from freshmen Bryce Cotton, Ron Giplaye, Dre Evans, and Lee Goldsborough have also been key elements0 to the Friars’ early season success.

It is no secret, the Friars do not play a very tough out-of-conference schedule.  But, when you play in the Big East, there is no need to play a tough out-of-conference schedule when you have anywhere from 6-10 ranked teams in your conference.  The Friars have jumped out to an 11-2 start, which is the best start to a season that I can remember.  Their only two loses came against La Salle and Boston College.  Keno Davis has this team playing very good basketball right now, and the Friars look poised and ready to start Big East play on December 28th at #5 Syracuse.

THE GOOD: What has been good so far this season for the Friars?  To start, the defense needs to be mentioned.  The Friars defensive statistics certainly do not jump out of the page at you because of their brilliance, but from where this team was to where they are now, the transition is pretty astounding.  Last season, the Friars were one of the worst defensive teams in the country, allowing opponents to score an abysmal 82.2 points per game against them.  Although they were also one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, often times when a stop was needed towards the end of the game, nobody from PC could get it done.  This season, the Friars are allowing 68.2 points per game.  That number is still high, but it is 14 points less that last season!  Aside from the statistics, the Friars have shown the ability to clamp-down defensively towards the end of games this entire season.  Late game defensive stops helped the Friars grab wins over Rhode Island, Alabama, Northeastern, and Wyoming.

If there is one person in the world that despises the way that Marshon Brooks plays basketball, it is me.¬† Ask anyone who attends games with me.¬† Every time Brooks touches the ball I make it a point to yell, ‚ÄúMarshon don‚Äôt pass!‚Ä̬† Brooks has the uncanny ability to pass when he should be shooting and to shoot when he should be passing, but I‚Äôve got to give credit where credit is due.¬† Brooks has put the team on his back so far this season, and the results have been pretty damn good.¬† Not only has Marshon been scoring like a mad-man, but he has finally dedicated himself to rebounding, which has the potential to be one of the best parts of his game.

I‚Äôve followed the Friars‚Äô 2010 recruiting class ever since the 2009-2010 season ended.¬† When I saw that Keno Davis was able to recruit players with the ability level of Gerard Coleman, Dre Evans, and Ron Giplaye, I was very excited for the future of this team.¬† But, with freshmen comes inexperience and growing pains.¬† To my amazement, these kids have stepped in and contributed right away.¬† Coleman looks like a star in the making.¬† He is 6’4″ and a lean 170 lbs, but has a knack of getting to the rim and finishing amongst the bigs.¬† Bryce Cotton was a late recruiting addition after the loss of Joe Young, but the 6‚Äô0‚ÄĚ Cotton has a ton of athleticism and his game is beginning to stretch beyond the arc.

THE BAD: Although the Friars are off to a great start, now that Big East play is upon us, there are certainly areas that need to be improved in order to see success in conference.¬† First, the bigs need to stay out of foul trouble.¬† Countless times have I taken my seat in the Dunk, watched the opening tip, and within two minutes Kadeem Batts is getting yanked because he picked up a foul or two.¬† This forced Brooks to move down to the four (and at 6‚Äô5‚ÄĚ 190 lbs he is no 4) and puts more pressure on Dixon to block shots and rebound. ¬†In order to compete in the Big East, the Friars need to have their full arsenal of big men available at all times (Dixon, Batts, Giplaye, Goldsborough, and Hall).

In classic Providence College fashion, the Friars have become accustomed to starting off slow and then rallying back in the second half to finish teams off.  Although their offense is capable of putting up points in a hurry, being down 10 points at the half to Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Georgetown, etc doesn’t bode well for your chances of winning.  It is important for the Friars to come out of the gate, dictate the game to their pace, tire teams out, and then use their depth and youth to their advantage.

OUTLOOK: The Big East is loaded on a yearly basis, and this season they seem to be as stacked as ever.  Currently, there are 5 Big East teams ranked in the top 10 in the country, 7 total in the top 25 (ESPN poll), and another 2 receiving votes for the top 25.  That makes nine teams either in or considered for the top 25.  Anyways, the Friars are young and small, which are two things that you do not want to be when playing such stiff competition.  That being said, I think that this team is talented enough to at least compete in the games against the top tier teams, and should be able to win their fair share of contests against the rest of the league.  The most important thing for PC is for them to beat the teams that they should.  The Friars need to beat teams like Rutgers, DePaul, South Florida, Seton Hall, and St. John’s.  As usual, the Friars have a tough schedule, and their road games will seriously test this team’s youth.

PREDICTION: 19-12 (8-10 Big East) ‚Äď 10th in the Big East

NOTABLE GAMES:

December 28th @ #5 Syracuse (9pm)

January 4th vs. #6 Pittsburgh (7pm)

January 13th @ West Virginia (7pm)

January 22nd vs. #25 Louisville (5pm)

January 26th vs. #8 Villanova (7pm)

February 5th @ #9 Georgetown (12 pm)

February 13th @ #4 Connecticut (7pm)

February 19th vs. Cincinnati (7pm)

February 23rd vs. #20 Notre Dame (7pm)

February 27th @ Marquette (4pm)

March 2nd @ #25 Louisville (7pm)

For the remainder of the season, I will be posting a recap of every game that the Friars play.¬† So, if you are a Friar faithful like I am, make sure to stop by NTCF after all PC’s games.

The Lack of Defense is Offensive

I don’t care that Providence College almost capped off a colossal comeback in last night’s opening round of the Big East Tournament against Seton Hall.¬† I don’t care that with 13 minutes left and down by 29, they almost tied the game at the final buzzer.¬† As the clich√© phrase states, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

It is preposterous that a team that is 6th in the nation in scoring can only win 12 games.¬† I understand that Providence plays in the Big East, which is the minor league of the NBA, forget the NBDL. I understand that Providence is a small school in a big conference. But I am of the feeling that within that conference they can compete.¬† Providence has the talent to be competitive¬†in the nation’s toughest conference and they showed that all year-long by playing close with top teams.¬† During their infamous 11 game losing streak, they played 4 top 10 teams in the nation.

Last night Jay Bilas, Bill Rafferty, and Sean McDonough routinely bashed Providence and how bad their defense is and was. Rightfully so.¬† In the first 4 minutes of the game Seton Hall had 9 layups.¬† All season long Providence has shown zero interest in anything remotely close that could be considered a semblance of defense.¬† Sorry Keno, you may throw up 104 points but it means nothing when other teams can throw up 105 at will.¬† Whats worse is that watching the game you can actually see the lack of interest on the defensive end.¬† Jamine¬†“Greedy” Peterson is the most guilty.¬† He will bust his tail on the offensive end with no regard for anyone else on the court.¬† But once the opposition gains possession¬†of the ball he jogs back on defense with a lackadaisical effort.¬† Peterson personifies the term “dog.”

Coach Keno Davis says that the up and down style is a great recruiting tool.  Kids want to run up and down and throw up points.  While no one can question the young talent PC has,  it is hard to say the future is bright with their offensive mentality.  And to Keno Davis, a better recruiting tool is something called winning.  See Krzyzewski, Mike, Calipari, Jim, and Boeheim, Jim among others.  Unless Keno Davis can bring back John Linehan this team will continue to be terrible to occasionally mediocre.

Where’s the Defense?

Being a Providence College basketball fan has not been easy over the last decade or so.  Since their run to the elite eight in 1997, led by Austin Croshere, God Shammgod and company they have been a mediocre program.  As a fan, I have high unreachable expectations for a small school team in the premier conference in college basketball.  Up until 2 years ago the problem was Tim Welsh. I will say nothing further about him because my blood pressure will skyrocket in nanoseconds.

Last season was the first in Providence for Keno Davis, fresh off a 28-5 season with mid major Drake.  There was much excitement amongst the PC faithful because Welsh was gone and there was fresh blood coming in.  Davis was blessed with a senior class featuring Weyinmi Efejuku, Geoff McDermott, and Jonathan Kale. He also walked into having an experienced point guard in Sharaud Curry who had to redshirt the year prior to Keno coming to town.

The Friars had 19 wins last season, most in recent memory for the school.  However, in reality they easily could have won 4 more games off the top of my head. That season the team seemingly could not put 2 halves together all season.  They would either sprint out to a 15 point first half lead or find themselves fighting back from that same 15 point deficit late in the second half. While they have no doubt been a fun and exciting team to watch, the argument can be made that they are equally frustrating.

Keno¬†Davis’ second season has proven to be no different from¬†his first in terms of results. The head coach brought in an exciting freshman class in Vincent Council, Duke Mondy, and Johnnie Lacy. They are led by fifth year senior Sharaud¬†Curry and junior Marshon Brooks. The team is long on offense but could not be paid to play defense. (No NCAA pun intended.)

Keno¬†is from the Mike D’antoni¬†school of basketball. He of the 7 second shot clock, jacking threes, and playing no semblance of defense. It is the belief that the offense is the best defense that makes me sick. What makes me even more angry is that Keno¬†believes throwing up 110 points against George Washington will be a recruiting tool that recruits will love.¬† News flash to Keno, recruits want to go to a program that wins.¬† Mike D’antoni’s¬†philosophy has never helped the coach do anything in the NBA and Davis is proving that to be true in the NCAA.

Syracuse came into this season unranked and because of their harassing 2-3 zone defense they have beaten North Carolina, Florida, and California. These teams were all ranked high than the Orange. Not anymore. 

Until Keno realizes that defense is a must in basketball, the Providence Friars will maintain what has been true about them for years.  They are exciting albeit frustrating to watch and they will be headed to the NIT year after year.