2013-2014 Providence College Friars: Season Preview

One of my favorite times of the year is finally upon us…the start of the college basketball season!  As with most years, there is a ton of hype surrounding this Providence College team.  Another infusion of young talent, combined with a couple of transfers becoming eligible, and finally the continued development of some familiar names all have PC fans excited for the season to get started.  What am I most excited about? PC kicking of Fox Sports 1’s coverage of college basketball.  PC hasn’t played under the national spotlight in some time and I think that a lot of curious college basketball fans will be tuning into Fox Sports 1 tonight, and stumble across the PC vs. BC game.  Here I’ve provided my preview for the 2013-2014 season for the Providence College Friars.  You need not look elsewhere, as ntcf.wordpress.com is the one and only source for quality PC basketball news, information, and opinions from the biggest PC fan around.  Let’s do it…

The Returning Players:

#3 Kris Dunn (SO.) – 6’3″, 197 lbs [Guard]

#4 Josh Fortune (SO.) – 6’5″, 205 lbs [Guard]

#10 Kadeem Batts (SR.) – 6’9″, 245 lbs [Forward]

#11 Bryce Cotton (SR.) – 6’1″, 165 lbs [Guard]

#13 Brice Kofane (JR.) – 6’8″, 210 lbs [Forward]

#21 Lee Goldsbrough (SR.) – 6’9″, 230 lbs [Forward]

#22 Ted Bancroft (SR.) – 6’6″, 215 lbs [Guard]

#23 LaDontae Henton (JR.) – 6’6″, 215 lbs [Forward]

I do not remember a season when Providence was returning this much talent and experience.  As PC fans, we have become accustomed to seeing players finally develop as seniors, and the move onto the next level.  If we were fortunate enough to see guys develop sooner than that, they usually either did something stupid to get kicked off of the team, or leave school early for some reason.  My expectations for this group are high, some (Scottie) may even describe them as lofty.  I’m not as big of a Bryce Cotton fan as most.  Yes, the dude can shoot.  He’s proven that he can be clutch.  But I never agree with the entire offense revolving around a perimeter shooter.  I would love to see Bryce use his athleticism more often and attack the rim.  Kris Dunn has the talent to be an All Big East First-Team performer.  However, in classic PC fashion, Dunn hurt his surgically repaired shoulder in the Friars final exhibition game against RIC.  From the reports I’ve read, it seems like Dunn subluxed his right shoulder.  That doesn’t worry me.  If there is labral damage, then I’m worried, but subluxations can be addressed with some stabilization exercises and taping.  If Kadeem Batts can become a little more consistent with his mid-range jumper, he could make himself into an NBA prospect.  My focus is on LaDontae Henton.  He didn’t have a very good 2012-2013 season.  His shooting percentage (especially from 3-point territory) was bad.  He didn’t play with the same swagger and heart that he displayed as a freshman.  Unlike most seasons, Henton has someone behind him coming for his starting spot (Tyler Harris).  Henton needs to prove that he deserves to keep his starting spot.

The New Players:

#1 Brandon Austin (FR.) – 6’6″, 185 lbs [Guard]

#5 Rodney Bullock (FR.) – 6’7″, 215 lbs [Forward]

#12 Casey Woodring (FR.) – 6’2″, 180 lbs [Guard]

#25 Tyler Harris (SO.) – 6’9″, 215 lbs [Forward]

#33 Carson Desrosiers (JR.) – 7’0″, 250 lbs [Center]

Brandon Austin is going to be a stud.  From what I’ve heard, he has looked very good this off-season.  When I took a look at some of his tape, he reminds me of a Tyreke Evans-type of player.  He has the ability to handle the ball, while also demonstrating the size and quickness to get to and finish at the rim.  Sadly for the Friars, Brandon Austin and fellow freshman Rodney Bullock “failed up uphold the responsibilities of student athletes.”  They are both suspended indefinitely for, what sounds to me like some academic violations.  Transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers both become eligible this season.  These two are going to have a profound impact on the Friars this season.  I expect Desrosiers to start at center.  He is a big presence that can block shots, score from inside and outside, and is known as a very good passer.  Harris is an athletic forward with the ability to shoot the three and attack the rim.  His skill set allows him to play every position from shooting guard to power forward.  Casey Woodring is a recruited walk-on that is known as a lethal outside shooter.  I don’t see many minutes for him available this year.

The Transfer (Not Eligible until start of 2014-2015 season):

#32 Junior Lomomba (SO.) – 6’5″, 195 lbs [Guard]

Lomomba is a Cleveland St. transfer (originally from Canada) that will become eligible next season.  He will benefit from a year of practice with the team, and will hope to help soften the blow of losing Bryce Cotton next season.

Predicted Starting 5 and Rotation (considering all players are healthy and eligible):

PG – Kris Dunn

SG – Bryce Cotton

SF – LaDontae Henton

PF – Kadeem Batts

C – Carson Desrosiers

#6: Tyler Harris

#7: Josh Fortune

#8: Brandon Austin

#9: Rodney Bullock

#10: Lee Goldsbrough

#11: Bryce Kofane

#12: Ted Bancroft

#13: Casey Woodring

Predictions:

As you probably could have assumed from what I wrote above, I have really high hopes for this team.  I think that their combination of experience (Batts, Cotton) along with talent (Dunn, Austin, Harris) will propel Providence College to finish within the top four of the new look Big East (behind Georgetown, Marquette, and Creighton).  I expect the Friars to make the NCAA Tournament.  I expect the Friars to get an NCAA Tournament win for the first time since 1997.  Ed Cooley finally has a team full of primarily “his guys”, so for Cooley and the boys, it’s time to make some moves in the right direction.  GO FRIARS!

Record: 22-6 (13-5)

Statistical Leaders: 

  • Points: Bryce Cotton
  • Rebounds: Kadeem Batts
  • Assists: Kris Dunn
  • Steals: Kris Dunn
  • Blocks: Carson Desrosiers
  • Field Goal %: Carson Desrosiers
  • Free Throw %: Bryce Cotton
  • Three Point %: Bryce Cotton

Bold Predictions:

  • 1st Team All Big East: Kris Dunn
  • 2nd Team All Big East: Bryce Cotton
  • 3rd Team All Big East: Tyler Harris
  • Big East All Defense Team: Carson Desrosiers

FRIARTOWN…LET’S GO!!!!!!!!!!

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NIT 2013 Quarterfinal – Baylor 79 – Providence 68

-Well, it was a matter of time before the surprisingly successful 2012-2013 Providence College Friars were no longer able to make a magical comeback and keep playing basketball.  The Baylor Bears, led by Pierre Jackson, were stoic down the stretch, unfazed by the Friars continuous attempts at a comeback, and making all of the plays necessary to move onto the 2013 NIT Semifinals as Madison Square Garden.

-Coach Cooley deserves an exceptional amount of credit for what he was able to do with this Friars team.  He had to work with more player combinations than possibly any other team in the country.  The Friars brought 6 scholarship players to the Puerto Rice Tip-Off at the start of the season.  Then, Cooley had to work Vincent Council, Kris Dunn, and Sidiki Johnson back into the lineup.  Then, the Friars lost Johnson and had to adapt again.  Then, they dealt with an injury to Bryce Cotton, a few stomach bugs for Kris Dunn, some disciplinary issues with Council, and a countless amount of other variables that led to Cooley receiving this praise from me.  Stand up Coach, you deserve a ton of recognition and appreciation!

-Pierre Jackson is ruthless.  He is the example of what I wish Vincent Council developed into.  Never fazed, always under control, and always making the best decision.

-With that being said, Council had a hell of a game (21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists).  Vince, you will be remembered and I will miss your consistency through the years.  Your stats force you to be considered one of the greatest Friars of all time.  Had it not been for your injured hamstring to start the season, you’d be getting much more national respect.  You should get a shot in the league…

-Classic Henton: 0 points, 8 rebounds, 0-5 from the field, 0-2 from the free throw line, 4 personal fouls, and 2 shots that were blocked

-Classic Dunn: 4 points (2-4 from the field), 2 rebounds, 6 assists

-LaDontae Henton needs to become more consistent, or he’ll be coming off of the bench in the 2013-2014 season.

-Kadeem Batts finished the season just as he started it, putting up numbers and controlling the paint.  Batts amassed 20 points (9-17 shooting), grabbed 8 boards, and had 2 assists.  Kadeem Batts turned into a better player than I ever imagined he would become.  Cooley’s staff needs to be recognized for his development, but Kadeem deserves a lot of that credit too.  If Batts gets better heading into the 2013-2014 season, he will be drafted.

-Bryce Cotton led the Friars with 23 points, however he went dead cold in the last 10 minutes of the 2nd half (when they needed him the most).  As the NTCF faithful may know, my affinity for Bryce Cotton has decreased as of late and I’ve begun to criticize him for some selfish play and poor decision making.  I hope that Bryce continues to improve, but I think that the Friars will have more talented options next season.  Cotton will most likely get drafted (thanks Q), but Batts will be a better pro.

-Josh Fortune needs to improve defensively, offensively, with decision making, and his overall basketball IQ or his playing time will quickly diminish with guys like Brandon Austin and Ricky Ledo competing for playing time.

-You have to commend the Baylor Bears.  They played a hell of a game.  Jefferson was a beast down low and Jackson was a true conductor on the floor.

-However, I can’t complain.  The Friars were able to play 3 more games than anticipated and have some momentum to build on this offseason.

-Stay tuned to NTCF for my 2012-2013 season review and 2013-2014 season preview post.

NIT 2013 Round 2: Providence 77 – Robert Morris 68

-I need to start by saying that what I watched on Monday night was one of the most poorly officiated games that I have ever seen. And it wasn’t that all bad calls were against Providence.  Bad calls were going in both directions.  I’m not sure which conference the officiating crew was from, but they should be fired.

-After the completion of the game last night, Ed Cooley grabbed the mic and addressed the crowd.  Man, I love Cooley.  Here was Cooley’s statement in a post-game interview about his address, “I thought about taking that microphone all day. I wanted to thank our crowd. We have had some really good crowds. I’d like to see every seat filled, but part of building your program is building your fan base back up.  I think this is a really tough place to play when the energy is like that. I think the last three and a half minutes of this game – that was actually fun. That was a lot of fun to hear the building shake like that. The players all feed off of that. And you know what? A team will crumble under those circumstances, and I thought that happened today.”

-From what Scottie told me (because I wasn’t at the game), Cooley said that if the crowd is loud every game, that will play a huge part in PC winning a National Championship.  After that statement, the crowd and the Friars went nuts!  Love the vision that Cooley has, he is developing a championship attitude with this team, and bringing in the talent to compete on a national level.

-Before this game, Cooley went on record saying that Kris Dunn had his best week of practice.  Sadly for the Friars, Dunn was battling a stomach bug on Monday and he looked somewhat sluggish.  With a healthy Dunn, his defensive energy would have gone a long way in limiting Robert Morris’ offensive effectiveness.  However, Dunn still found ways to produce (6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists).

-LaDontae Henton played arguably his best game of the season, utilizing consistent mismatches to his advantage.  Henton tallied up 21 points and 6 rebounds on 6-7 shooting and 8-8 from the free throw line.

-Council’s offense was nowhere to be found, but 12 points and 10 assists were enough to get the Friars through to the next round.

-Lee Goldsbrough stepped up on a night where the Friars’ bigs were battling foul trouble.  Lee logged 21 minutes, grabbed 9 rebounds and 6 points.  Lee made a huge bucket as the game was winding down on a nice dish from Council.  Goldsbrough has inproved dramatically this season and I’m interested to see how much time he will get next season.

-Kadeem needs to be a more consistent focal point of the Friars offense.  Their tendency to feed Kadeem the ball is scarce, and when they do get him the ball down low it is often off of the block and he gets double teamed.  Every time Cotton gets the ball outside, Kadeem is in a great spot underneath (because offensive attention has switched to Cotton).  Cotton needs to become more alert and get Batts the ball more often.

-Kris Dunn makes some of the prettiest passes that I’ve seen in a long time.  On a fast break, Dunn threw a no-look bounce pass to Batts (who fumbled the pass) through two defenders.  That pass was awesome!

-Next up for the Friars are the Baylor Bears.  The Bears’ offense has been on fire thus far in the NIT, scoring 112 points in their 1st game (vs. Long Beach St.) and 89 points in their 2nd game (vs. Arizona St.).  The Bears average 74 points per game for the season (31st in the NCAA).  Their best player is senior point guard Pierre Jackson who averages 19 points per game on the season (and had 26 points and 16 assists against Arizona St.).  This should be an offensive showdown!

-NEXT GAME: Wednesday, March 27th @ Baylor, 9pm (ESPN2)

NIT 2013 Round 1: Providence 75 – Charlotte 66

-Kris Dunn, stand up!  Thank you.  Thank you for making the right play at the right time.  Thank you for hustling every single minute that you are on the floor.  Thank you for making a clutch steal when we needed it the most.  Thank you for attacking when you should attack.  Thank you for knowing when to slow it down and start the offense over.  Damn man, you’re getting better by the day!

-Classic Dunn stat line: 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals

-And it doesn’t hurt that Coach Cooley said Dunn played his best game in a Friar uniform.

-Bryce Cotton finally remembered that he can shoot and made a few three pointers.  Cotton still disrupts offensive flow because of his constant desire to shoot (as all shooters have) and his inability to react quickly and find the open man.  With that being said, Bryce scored 25 points against Charlotte and shot 4/8 from three.  If he keeps that up over the next few games, PC will be a tough out.

-For the second consecutive game Kadeem Batts was pounded on the block and couldn’t get into any sort of offensive rhythm.  Batts only managed to score 5 points and grab 5 boards.  Granted, the Friars didn’t need him much against Charlotte and he was battling foul trouble for much of the game.  With that being said, in order to make it deep into this tournament the Friars need the Kadeem Batts that we have become accustomed to seeing this season (i.e. the 15 points, 8 boards Kadeem).

-Vincent Council looked like a senior point guard that has never reached postseason play before and didn’t want to get bounced in the 1st round.  Council played one of his better games of the season, showing a little more offensive aggression than he has much of this season.  Council pulled his best Kris Dunn impression by filling up the stat line: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks.

-The most important stat of the game: Providence turnovers = 5

-Ted Bancroft makes more meaningful plays in his 3 minutes of play than LaDontae Henton does in his 30 minutes of play.  Cooley knows what to expect when he puts Bancroft in the game (effort, heart, guts, and defense).  Last night, when Bancroft sailed over the top of Charlotte’s big man to grab a board and draw a foul, Cooley was 15 feet onto the court yelling in support of Bancroft.  Gotta love the walk on leaving it on the floor.  Gotta love Cooley’s love for the walk on.

NEXT GAME: Monday, March 25th vs. Robert Morris, 7pm

Big East Game 5: Georgetown 74 – Providence 65

I am subbing in for Matty on this one because he apparently had better things to do than watch the Friars.

 

In the interest of full disclosure I was flipping back and forth between the Friars and Celtics last night.  Maybe that explains why IUnknown
have been miserable all day today.  Both teams played like old men at the Y.  I digress.  I am here to talk about the Friars and recap the shellacking they took from the Georgetown Hoyas.

The Hoyas raced out to a large lead early in the first half and never truly looked back.  Providence had some runs in the second half but could never close the deficit to less than 5.  I don’t want to be overly critical of the hometown team because it wouldn’t be fair.  Georgetown is the more talented team and it showed last night.  Otto Porter, Jr had 20 points on 8-13 shooting to go with 8 rebounds before fouling out.  This kid is a top 10 pick come June.

As far as Providence goes, I feel they are way too dependent upon the Bryce Cotton 3 ball on offense.  Cotton was 5-12 from downtown.  I don’t like that he took TWELVE 3’s.  I understand his knee has been giving him trouble but when he is slashing to the basket rather than camping out behind the arc, the Providence offense is much more productive.  He got to the charity stripe once and that was on one of his normal fouled when shooting a 3 ball plays.

The Friars have become reliant on Cotton because LaDontae Henton has fallen off the face of the earth.  His 37 point effort imagesagainst Brown might have been the worst thing that could have happened to this kid.  Henton thinks he is a 3 point shooter.  He isn’t.  He is a scorer.  Henton is shooting 25% from deep this season.  The artist formerly known as Buckets needs to get back to what made him so good a year ago.  He had a sweet mid-range game and got to the basket creating high percentage shots for himself.  Henton took six 3’s last night.  Too many.  I have always been high on Henton and thought he would be the next Ryan Gomes or MarShon Brooks.  I understand sophomore slumping but I think his slump is only because he has gotten away from what makes him good.

Kadeem Batts had a quiet double-double for the Friars last night with 10 points and 11 rebounds.  I like what Batts has done so far this season. He has had his down games, Syracuse comes to mind, but that happens.  The problem is PC can’t afford him having these off nights.  Batts is a main cog in the offense.  He needs to get his 15-19 points a game.  If he is playing well and scoring, it opens up the floor for Cotton, Fortune, and company.

There is apart of me that believes the scouts that submitted their reports to ESPN on Kris Dunn are as real as Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.  The other part of me smacks myself and realizes the kid is a freshman surrounded by so much hype that he was the savior of the program.  It really is unfair to him.  What I have seen is an inexperienced athlete that can make plays but doesn’t read defenses.  He is a little too active on defense which leads to careless fouls.  He has shown no offensive ability other than good handle and quickness.  But he is a freshman.

JayVaughn Pinkston and the Villanova Wildcats come to The Dunk on Saturday looking to get back on track after a 58-43 loss to the Pitt Panthers.  The Friars simply can’t afford to slip to 1-5 in Big East play if they want to avoid playing on day one of the last Big East Tournament.

To the Matty faithful, I hope my substitution and minutes on the court weren’t as useless as Brice Kofane.

 

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF