Providence seems to be everyone’s pick for a sleeper team in the BIG EAST CONFERENCE. With an experienced, healthy lineup and a new coach (last year’s National Coach of the Year Keno Davis from Drake), PC is hoping to make some noise in the ultra-competive BIG EAST CONFERENCE.
A coaching change was needed in Friartown after Tim Welsh put together another disappointing season, going 15-16 overall and 6-12 in conference play. After weeks of searching, the Friars landed Keno Davis, who led Drake to a 25-6 record and an NCAA Tournament birth last season. Davis inherits a team with 5 returning seniors and more importantly, the return of point guard Sharaud Curry (who missed all but 8 minutes of last season due to a broken foot). Curry had the potential to be considered amongst the top 5 point guards in the Conference. In his sophomore season in 06-07, Curry averaged 15 ppg and 4.4 assists. However, he broke his foot right before the start of last year and missed the whole season.
“I’m more hungry now. I just can’t wait to play.” – Sharaud Curry
Providence should have no trouble scoring this year, as they have several players who can fire from long range and carry the team with hot shooting. The other end of the court could be a big concern. This core group of players have always been plagued by poor defense under Tim Welsh. The question is, does Keno have enough time with these guys to turn things around? He brought unexpected success to his experienced Drake team last season, and should be able to help the Friars thrive under his new system.
“Everything is different. Defensive policies, offensive concepts, just the team aura. Everyone looks at it differently.” – Brian McKenzie via projo.com
Roster and notable stats
“This team has the talent and ability to raise a banner into the rafters.” – Keno Davis
G Jeff Xavier (SR) – 12.4 PPG, 2.3 Steals per game, 36% 3 point FG
G Weyinmi Efejuku (SR) – 11.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG
G Brian McKenzie (JR) – 10.9 PPG, 40% 3 point FG
G Sharaud Curry (JR) – missed all last year
G Marshon Brooks (SO) – 3.4 PPG in 9 minutes per game playing time
F Geoff McDermott (SR) – 10.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.9 Assists
F Jonathan Kale (SR) – 4.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG
F Alex Kellogg (SO) – 1.2 rebounds per game in 8 minutes per game
F Jamine Peterson (SO) – 4.7 PPG in 10 MPG, but might redshirt this year
C Randall Hanke (SR) – 8.7 PPG, 63% FG, 3.6 RPG
Other bench players
G Luke Burchett
F Chris Baudinet
F Brian Beloin
F Connor Heine
Missing from last year
Charles Burch (graduation)
Ray Hall (undisclosed injury)
Dwain Williams (transfer)
Players to Watch
Geoff McDermott has had no problem filling out the stat sheet in his first three years, putting up solid numbers across the board in points, rebound, and assists. Last year without Curry, the big man even contributed with a lot of band handling. Now with Curry back, McDermott can really focus on piling up points in the paint and being a force down low. He’s also appears to be 100% healthy, after playing through some nagging knee injuries over the past two seasons.
Weyinmi Efejuku is arguably the most talented scorer on the Friar team. Last year he only averaged 11.6 points per game (down from 14.6 his sophomore year). However, when he is on he is capabable of putting up 20+ points and carrying the team on offense. It seems whenever Efejuku scores in double digits, the Friars have succcess. As you can see in the chart below, Weyinmi was up and down all year, and his struggles mirrored the team’s struggle in BIG EAST PLAY.
Red Shirt Watch
Jamine Peterson, Sophomore
Coach Davis has held out sophomore Jamine Peterson in both preseason games in order to keep his options open for redshirting him. He showed alot of athleticism last year and could have definitely contributed this season.
On the surface it would seem that the Friars have an easy out of conference schedule this year, with 8 games at the newly renovated Dunkin’ Donuts Center. However, they face two always tough in-state rivarly matchups against Brown and URI, and also play Baylor in the first round of the Anaheim Classic tournament. Should they advance in the tournament, potential NCAA teams Saint Mary’s, Wake Forest and UTEP could also await them.
PC must get as many OOC wins as possible, because its not going to get any easier in the brutal BIG EAST play. This year they drew Villanova, Cincinnati, and Rutgers twice, but have really tough matchups against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh back-to-back at the Dunk towards the end of the season. With 7 BIG EAST teams in the preseason top 25 polls, its going to be a fun winter for the Friars.
Everyone seems to be picking Providence to finish 10th in the BIG EAST CONFERENCE. Given the competition in the league, it seems reasonable. While the Friars are going to have an extremely difficult time keeping up with the top tier of the league (UCONN, Pitt, Lousville, ND), I think they have a real good shot to go toe to toe with those other teams in the next tier (Nova, Marquette, Syracuse, WV, G’Town). As crazy as it sounds, all 10 of these teams might be heading towards the NCAA tournament anyway since the league is THAT GOOD.
It’s the last chance for the ‘09 Friar class, and I really think they are going to come together and put together a great season. The pieces are there…let’s just hope that they all fall in place. They have the right coach to make it happen.
Other Providence College Basketball 2008-09 Previews around the web
Baster’s Sports Spin
College Basketball Blog
Locksmith Sports Picks
MSN Fox Sports
Philadelphia College Basketball Examiner
NBE Basketball Blog