The question becomes how to gauge improvement, particularly when referencing this winter. The obvious barometer is wins, but say Providence fights tooth-and-nail only to come up short against the UConns and Villanovas of the world? Is that called progress, the belief that the rough patches that unquestionably lie ahead will harden their collective resolve by the time they reach their junior and senior seasons?
It was a similar tale we once heard when Efejuku and McDermott were novices, back when they teased us with their potential, back when we hoped they would pick the program up and make it a factor in the Big East, a 16-team behemoth that offers few layups. That group of Friars never lived up to the billing, now passing the baton off to a new generation that will attempt to chart a different course.
That is what makes this season fascinating, watching a team mesh together, the hope that the Friars can keep their heads above water in one of the nation’s toughest conferences.