PROVIDENCE FRIARS, 19-15 (9-9), NIT
Head Coach: Ed Cooley -Ed Cooley was the head coach at Fairfield for 5 seasons and was an assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College before taking the Providence job prior to the 2011 season.
Final Fours: 1973, 1987
Elite 8: 4 times, most recently in 1997
Sweet 16: 5 times, most recently in 1997
Providence found enormous success under Dave Gavitt, 1st Big East Commissioner, during the 70's, making a Final 4 behind Marvin Barnes and Ernie DiGregorio. The 1987 team was coached by Rick Pitino and lead by Billy Donovan, making a Final 4 run as a 6 seed. The 1997 team almost made a similar run under Pete Gillen losing in the Elite 8 in overtime to Arizona in a wild contest.
2013-14 Glance: Heading into this season, Providence has been viewed as a tournament team by some, while others see them finishing as low as 8th. I'm a bit more bullish on this team than most. Providence had a small chance at reaching the tournament last year but finished the season losing at UConn and then getting trounced in the Big East tournament in the second round. They needed a run in the Big East tournament but after starting the season 1-4 in conference play, they rebounded nicely.
They never had the services of Ricky Ledo who eventually entered the NBA draft and lose their PG Vincent Council but have quite a bit of last year's team back to go along with a few newcomers. The frontcourt is in the solid hands of SR, F Kadeem Batts and JR. F ladontae Henton. Batts averaged 15 & & and shot 48% from the field. Henton added 13 and 8 and should be a bruising duo. The Friars also add Wake Forest transfer big man, Carson Desrosiers. The 6'10" big man, listed at 7' in some spots, was a 4* recruit coming out of high school.
In the backcourt, the Friars return last year's leading Big East scorer, Bryce Cotton. Cotton scored 19.7 ppg. Cotton had an effective fg% of 54.7% while shooting 36.4% from 3. Cotton likely won't lead the conference in scoring again but will be a dynamic scorer. SOPH Josh Fortune should see more playing time as well. SOPH G Kris Dunn will take over the point guard duties and has big shoes to fill. He missed time last year due to injury but expectations are high for him. His play will be something to watch for the Friars.
Top frosh newcomer is a 6'6" Philadelphia native Brandon Austin.
I can see Providence finishing as hig as 3rd in the Big East this season and as low as 7th. Look for the Friars to be in serious discussion to return to the dance for the first time since 2004. The Friars are trending up in the new Big East. Cooley has demonstrated solid recruiting ability and now it's time for his collection of talent to produce.
Providence Blogs: friarbasketball.com, friarblog.com