Yesterday I had the opportunity of joining some of the best journalists to cover Providence College basketball for an exclusive men’s basketball media day, held right on campus. Featuring the full roster and head coach Ed Cooley, we had about 45 minutes to ask what we could to who we wanted. If we wanted to ask about the offseason, excitement for this year, or if they enjoyed the food or not – it was all up to us. Being the hard hitting journalist I am, I wanted know point blank from Kris Dunn if he enjoyed eating Ray food. Like the Daily Show, I ask the questions other people don’t have time to ask.
Joined by Chris “Friar Broadcaster” Torello we went out to get some answers that are on everyone’s mind – where’s Ledo at, what’s Sidiki been up to this offseason, and how Kadeem Batts is using that Louisville game from last season to structure a better game for himself. Read on to get the story on the season from the perspective of the people who play it out – the Friars.
Chris and I started off the interviews by talking to Brice Kofane, one of the few members of the Friar frontcourt for the first half of the season:
Daniel: What have you been working on during this offseason?
Brice: Finishing around the rim is a big thing for me. I really want to get better at the post and complete.
Daniel: Do you see yourself starting this year?
Brice: I’m right there, you know? Hopefully I will get to start but I’ll do what I have to help the team get better. As you know we had a rough season last year, and we’re trying to improve it – we’ve come together a lot from it, so I’ll do what I can.
Daniel: What are some of the things coach asked you to work on during this offseason?
Brice: Coach asked me to be more vocal and communicative on the floor. He also asked me to play harder and push myself in games. He said that’s what will get us over the hump in some games, and he also asked us to come together as a team because that’s how we’re going to win games.
Chris: When you look at some of the guys you have to go up against in practice, what does that mean to you knowing those guys are going to help you get better?
Brice: It means a lot to me because those are high major players and going against them every day gives you an idea of what your game is like. It’s good because we go up against some great competition and I’m looking forward to working with these guys – it’s going to push everyone and put them in a good spot.
After speaking with Brice Chris and I made a B-line to talk to Josh Fortune, the only freshman in the touted freshmen class to be able to play right away. The interview was quick, but Josh seemed genuinely happy to be at PC and is excited to step into his role.
Daniel: You were originally recruited under Keno Davis – what made you decide to stay with PC after the coaching change?
Josh: I just felt it was the right decision to stay with Providence. I want to come in and help the rebuilding of the program. Your first choice is the best choice so that’s why I decided to stay with that.
Daniel: You’ve been described as a “secret weapon” because of your shooting, can you talk about that?
Josh: I’m going to go out there and play the game I play. I’m a shooter so I’m going to go out there and spread the wings on the court and help create for the other players on the court.
Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris
With so many players coming in that can’t actually play this year you have a lot of different questions you can ask them. For both Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris, those questions are usually centered around “why’d you come back to PC after being recruited here?” Chris took point on this one, check it out:
Chris: Both of you were recruited under former head coach Keno Davis and decided go elsewhere. Now you’re back under a new staff. What was different this time around?
Carson: I think now the coaching staff is real excited about the future and the players and the team are really coming together. The things I’m seeing now I didn’t see a few years ago, and the these things are important to me.
Tyler: I felt this time around I got the chance to be more comfortable with these coaches, especially Cooley. I had a chance to build a great relationship with him. My main reasons were because of coach Cooley and LaFleur, who recruited me while he was at Connecticut. We had a great relationship that we built on, and I felt this was a better fit for me this time around than before.
Chris: How hard is it going to be sitting out a year?
Carson: It’s going to be tough. The first couple of games it might be easy but by December we’re going to want to get out there and help our team and bring in the wins. But it’s part of what comes with transferring so we gotta make sure we’re going to use this time to get better and be ready to help our team when we can play next year.
Tyler: Just like what Carson was saying it’s going to be hard sitting out – like any basketball player you’re going to want to play – but I’m accepting the fact that I’m going to have to sit out and I’m going to put in extra work and make sure I’m in the gym every day getting better. As long as I’m doing that and making sure I’m getting better every day it’s going to be alright.
Chris: Tyler, you were here for Late Night Madness, how’s it going to be this Friday now that you can be a part of it?
Tyler: It’s going to be something great – I’m a part of it this year, and I’m excited to be a part of it instead of just watching it!
I mean, how could we not get an interview with Kris? Truthfully it was like taking a number and waiting in line (everyone wants that Dunn interview!) but once we got to him it was a great conversation.
Chris: How’s the shoulder feeling?
Kris: It’s doing better. It’s feeling good right now. My trainer gave me a lot of rehab work and make sure I’m getting stronger. The staff and players are making sure that I still feel like I’m part of the family and part of the team. I’m not getting down on myself because of the shoulder.
Chris: You were here for a game against Mt. Pleasant and saw [Alumni] gym – what do you think of it now?
Kris: Aw, it’s better! It’s definitely better. The look is a lot better. I told coach we should play a couple more games in there because the crowd is right on top of everybody!
Daniel: When do you see yourself coming back into the lineup?
Kris: Right now that question is up in the air. Hopefully during the Big East season, that’s what we’re telling people right now, but hopefully before that.
Daniel: What’re you thinking? End of December, right around the Colgate/BC games?
Kris: Yeah, definitely right around there.
Chris: How’s it been forming relationships with the guys on the team this year?
Kris: Everyone’s been great – we all have that personality where we want to get together and hang out. Carson, Ricardo – we’re all friends. That’s not a problem. Once I got here I felt like I was at home and everyone made me feel that way.
Chris: Speaking of home how do you like living on campus and the classes?
Kris:My family made sure it was education first and made education a priority over everything. The classrooms are great – the transition from high school is definitely different but the campus is wonderful, the food is great, the area around the campus is
wonderful…If anyone is coming to Providence though, Civ is no joke. Civ is something you have to take the time and do all the reading.
Daniel: [pausing] …”the food is great” that’s on the record now, we’re going to quote you on that!
Kris: [laughing] Slavin food is good, lemme say that! Ray they may need a little more work!
And you thought I was kidding about asking that.
Sidiki was a man of few words, but talking to him actually gave us a good bit of info – specifically, he may be back earlier than expected.
Daniel: What have you worked on during the offseason?
Sidiki: I worked around my low post moves – playing around the rim around. 12-15′ shots too.
Chris: When can you take the court?
Sidiki: Colgate officially, but we’re waiting on the NCAA waiver. It’s 50-50 right now. For sure I’ll be playing December 18, but before then we’ll be hoping for.
Lee Goldsbrough is a player who got a lot of praise from Cooley last season, but now will need to increase his stats and contribute on offense much more. How’s he plan to do that exactly? We wanted to know too.
Chris: What have you worked on the most during this offseason.
Lee: Confidence. Over the past two years when I haven’t been playing it gets you down a bit, so I’m trying to get my confidence up so I can go out there and play for that crowd – go out there, grab some rebounds, and please the people, you know? Playing in front of 12 thousand people…it blows your mind a little bit! So hopefully this year is going to be different.
Chris: What have you worked on the most during this offseason?
Lee: Shooting the most. I’ve worked on the 15-18′ shot. My presence is going to be more inside than outside. I think this year is going be when I have my best year. Going up against Kadeem in practice going to help me more going into the Big East. Going up against those guys is going to be a big help. I want people to recognize me as a part of the team by the end of the season.
Daniel: Talk to me about what you’ve worked on this offseason.
Bryce: I worked a lot on my ball handling. Trying to enhance my ability to help create for others because that’s what my team has been able to do for me in the past.
Daniel: Do you see yourself playing different roles?
Bryce: I’m willing to do whatever the coaches need from me. I’ve played the one a little bit last year so I have some knowledge on it, we’ve been down this road before. We’re going to make sure to not make the same mistakes as before.
Projected first-team All Big East, best point guard in the Big East, one of the best players on the floor at any given time this year…but no pressure or anything.
Daniel: How do you feel about all the good things people are saying about you?
Vincent: I feel excited to be one of the best players in the Big East.
Daniel: What have you been working on?
Vincent: Being a leader mostly, and working on my jump shot more. But definitely being a leader for this team.
Daniel: You’re going to be the general on the floor this year as well as off, how have you been working with the younger guys to get them ready?
Vincent: I’ve been working a lot with Kris and teaching him how to take care of his body for Big East. I remember what it was like my freshman year and so I’m trying to help him with anything that comes up there too.
Daniel: What was it like dealing with all those minutes last year with games so close together?
Vincent: That was tough, and definitely tested my stamina. Coach got us prepared for it though, and he’s been preparing us for it this season as well.
Chris: Coach says he has the best point guard in the nation with you, what kind of pressure does that put on your game?
Vincent: It’s not really pressure – I mean yeah there’s a little pressure – but I believe if you’re going to do something you need to be the best at it, so to me it’s a complement.
Daniel: How’re you liking college so far?
Ricky: I love it! I’m really happy to be here! I like my classes and everything is going well.
Daniel: I’m really glad to hear it! Can you tell me a little bit about what dealing with this offseason was like?
Ricky: It was a lot of speculation about what would happen…I was upset because I couldn’t play but I’m happy to be in school and I’m happy to be at Providence College.
Daniel: How’s it feel to kind of be called “the next great PC player” and being compared to former Providence legends like Marvin and Ernie?
Ricky: It feels good, but I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t played yet. Me getting on the court is my main focus right now, and me and my schoolwork, and me and my classes. The fame is good, but I have goals that I have to reach and that I have to make. I’m trying to focus on this year and get it done – I’m happy to be a student and be here. It’s not about next year right now, it’s about this year and doing well.
Our last interview of the day was with Kadeem Batts, and he has grown A LOT since he first arrived on campus.
Chris: You went through the redshirt year and went through two coaching staffs – what do you expect from yourself this year?
Kadeem: I expect to win. All these years I’ve been here and I haven’t won yet, and I want to help my team win and give the fans the wins they deserve. I can’t think of a better thing than to go out and win. It’s frustrating when you’re losing.
Daniel: Talk about your offseason, what’d you work on?
Kadeem: I worked on conditioning and mental training. I worked on every aspect of my game. I can honestly say I’ve turned from a boy into a man.
Chris: You guys sound like you’ve come together as a family.
Kadeem: It’s true, all those past years with Keno and even with great players like Marshon we never felt like a family. This feels like a family, and that’s why I feel like we can do special things.
Daniel: Any games you got a bulls-eye on the calendar for?
Kadeem: UMass. They’re going to be good and I have a lot of friends that go to UMass so I’m looking forward to blowing them out of the water. Also I’m excited to go to Puerto Rico and enjoy the warm weather. [Vincent Council leans over and smiles]
Vincent: I can’t wait for that trip!
Everyone started to clear out after that but we got a few key takeaway points. First off, this isn’t a regular Friars team – this is a family, and that mentality has shone through. If it can translate to on court success than we know we have something special. Second, everyone is comfortable with their roles. Whether sitting out or asking to play different positions, everyone is ready to do their part. Lastly, Vincent Council really, REALLY likes warm weather. And Dunn likes the Slavin food, but knows enough to know Ray needs to step it up.