Here is the next installment of Jamie Boyer’s series on Friars signee Brandon Austin that is chronicling his senior year of high school at Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia.
Listen to Danny MacNamara, Chris Torello, and (a sick) Daniel James discuss the present state of Friar Basketball in this edition of FriarPod!
Good Morning Friartown,
There may not have been a game this week, but plenty of fireworks have exploded over Providence, Rhode Island, as the Big East as we know it seems to be collapsing before our eyes. Once upon a time, Dave Gavitt created the Big East as a place for basketball-centric schools who shared a basketball-focused vision, so how fitting that over forty years later, the Big East might be destroyed by a group of seven teams looking to return to that vision after those around them decided to chase the almighty dollar.
The “Catholic Seven” have played a very small part in the destruction of the conference. They are just picking up where Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Louisville started. How can you feel secure in a conference where two of your key members (Connecticut and Cincinnati) have publicly pleaded with opposing conferences for an invitation to become a member? How are you as a conference supposed to feel when the replacements for some of the best programs in the country over the past decade consist of mediocre counterparts, schools like Tulane, Central Florida, and SMU?
I don’t want to burden you with the same thoughts you have probably seen scrolled across the bottom of your TV for most of the past week. However, I would like to pick apart an article written by Nate Silver. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Silver, he is one of these new-age statisticians. He believes in saber-metrics and more modern ways of tracing data in sports and in politics. Through his website FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver has been publishing his findings for quite a few years, and his blog that can be found via the New York Times has served as a source of information for me as well.
With that, we shall explore Nate Silver’s blog post, A Smart Breakaway for Big East Schools, and some associated thoughts in the Crunch …
From the press release:
Statement from the presidents of the seven basketball member schools of the Big East conference
Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established. Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward.
We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference.
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward.
Also, the Providence Athletic Department released the following:
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE MOVES TO SOLIDIFY ITS ATHLETICS FUTURE
PROVIDENCE, R.I., DECEMBER 15, 2012: – As was announced earlier today, Providence College is one of the seven basketball schools in the BIG EAST Conference which voted to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established.
“Providence College has enjoyed a proud tradition as a founding member of the BIG EAST Conference,” Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. said. “I want all our donors, alumni, fans, students and especially our student-athletes to know that we have worked diligently to get to this point. We believe that today’s vote moves us further toward a solution that will put Providence College and the other six basketball institutions in a position for long-term success. We are working toward a model that is very similar to what BIG EAST founder Dave Gavitt first envisioned more than 30 years ago when he left Providence College – a conference comprised of basketball schools that would be branded and which would compete at the highest of levels in the national spotlight.”
“We are also working to provide Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ed Cooley with the resources he needs to compete and excel at this level. We have committed to Coach Cooley that we will extend his contract and we are working on the details of that at present,” Fr. Shanley said.
“This is a monumental day for Providence College and its Athletics Department,” Athletics Director Bob Driscoll stated. “We are taking the necessary steps to secure the future of our basketball programs and of our entire athletics department. We felt it was vital for us to strengthen our bond with the other six basketball institutions and to provide a long-term solution in an ever-changing conference landscape. Having Coach Cooley lead our men’s basketball program for the long-term and ensuring that he has the necessary resources to compete on a national level are key components for a strong and vibrant future for our athletics department.”
“I am very excited about the direction of our men’s basketball program,” Cooley stated. “I want to thank Fr. Shanley and Bob Driscoll as they are working extremely hard to position us and to put the pieces in place that will allow us to continue to build Providence College men’s basketball so that we can compete and win at the highest echelons of the sport. Providence is my home and it is where I want to be. We still have work ahead of us in our quest, but today marks another big step towards our goal.”
Forget about Friday. Thank God for exam week! With the relative quiet on Big East campuses it finally got Presidents and Athletic Directors of the basketball-centric schools bored enough to say “Hey, maybe we should take a meeting on this whole realignment thing.”
It is fitting that the “Catholic” school leadership met on a Sunday to discuss their future, and not surprising at all that a split appears imminent.
I have said it before and I will say it again, people don’t just show up to conference realignment talks for the free FRESCA. When these meetings occur, swift action typically follows.
Ed Cooley has come up with some creative names for his short-handed active roster this year. Along those lines, can we call the Big East’s basketball schools the “Sacred Seven”?
This meme never gets old. It’s even better with the multiple Friars mentions. IF YOU THINK I’M GOING TO SIT IN THE DUNKIN’ DONUTS CENTER AND WATCH FREAKIN’ TULANE PLAY PROVIDENCE YOU HAVE ANOTHER THING COMING!
Much like Soundgarden, I’ve been away for too long. After meeting so many readers at Brad’s/RiRa’s (and thank you to all of you for the hospitality, can’t even tell you how much that meant to me!) I figured now is as good a time as any to make a comeback. The team is 7-2 and, more importantly, we’re about to have our full roster back. The wait is over – Sidiki Johnson, Kris Dunn, and Vincent Council are finally here!
Okay, so depending on the source Vincent Council may not be back for Colgate, but if not Colgate then soon. Very soon. And there’s a lot to consider with three major talents such as these taking the court for the Friars. After a semester of literally no depth at times, we’re going to add a ton. What’s this all mean for the Friars? Like couples therapy, let’s talk about it!
There is a ton of great reporting and analysis from various publications, blogs, and message boards to keep the Friar fan informed all throughout the year. I’d like to introduce a new feature here called the Friartown Roundtable that tries to bring all that together in one place to have the ultimate collection of expert opinion on the latest topics in PC basketball. In the future, I hope to also spur some discussion and debate around the same group. For the inaugural edition at the semester break, I just posed the following question:
What is YOUR biggest takeaway from the team after the first semester, and how do you see that changing with the guys coming back from injury/eligibility?
My biggest takeaway is the emergence of Kadeem Batts as a potentially high impact front court player in the Big East. No one, and I mean no one, had Batts scoring the ball with such productivity at this point in the season. He obviously has to prove he can remains major factor when the opponent meter jumps considerably in 3 weeks but all signs point to PC having a legit low post/high post big man scorer for the first time since Ryan Gomes.
The biggest takeaway I have is this team’s ability to fight. They’ve gotten mentally tougher, and just seem more willing to scrap and claw…which they’ve obviously had to do. That, and Kadeem Batts’ improvement in the post. He can go with either hand, has a dead-eye shot from 18 feet…and is now a difficult match up for alot of bigs.
I don’t think that changes alot for him with Sidiki’s arrival…but also hope that the fight the team shows continues. I think it will, which hopefully bodes well for a successful conclusion.
Friar signee Brandon Austin’s senior season kicked off this weekend, and the Philadelphia guard showed exactly why he was such a highly sought after recruit. His No. 4 ranked Imhotep Charter team went 2-0, crushing Sankofa Freedom 96-60 on Friday night and edging St. Joseph’s Prep this evening 61-56 in the Kyle Lowry FamJuice Tip-Off.
In the opening game, Austin scored 19 points to tie for the team high. However, Austin really stepped up today against the tougher St. Joe’s Prep team that is ranked right behind Imhotep at No. 5 in Pennsylvania. He scored 25 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and had 4 steals.
“I wanted to make a point, prove that I’m one of the best players in the city and the country,” Austin said, clutching his game MVP trophy close to his chest. “Miles is a great player, but I made a point to chase him all over around the three-point line, not let him get easy looks.”
Here are some tweets from recruiting analysts in attendance of the tournament.
Austin spoke to Philahoops High after the game:
HAPPY SUNDAY MORNING FRIARTOWN,
This has been 11 days far too long in between us last talking, so welcome back.
Thursday night proved to be yet another pivotal moment for this young, Friars team, a team decimated by injuries, and with so much uncertainty in the air, no one knew how they were going to perform. Would Bryce Cotton play? Would Kris Dunn play? When is Vincent Council coming back? This was the build up to the game the other night, in addition to, “We can’t wait for the transfers and future recruits,” a similar statement in both Providence and Kingston on that night.
However, to pretend this game just didn’t matter, that would be a grave injustice to both the players and coaches on both sides of the ball. When I wrote to you two Sunday’s ago, I wrote that one of the things I loved about Ed Cooley was that he held everyone accountable and didn’t make excuses. This is yet another example, that he is getting these guys in the best position to win, despite not having the depth or talent to compete, but he continues to work his magic, each and every game, hoping to get the players, coaches, and fans the results they deserve. Hopefully soon, some will appreciate that.
For now, let’s get to the Crunch …