Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
After a successful stint at Fairfield, Ed Cooley takes over for Keno Davis as the head coach of the Providence Friars. Cooley’s unenviable mission will be to try and change the culture of a program that fails to stack up against most of its Big East counterparts… Oh, and replace the second leading scorer in the nation, Marshon Brooks.
Last Season: 14th, 4-14 in Big East, 15-17 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 15th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Bilal Dixon (Jr)
PF: Kadeem Batts (So)/Ron Giplaye (So)/Lee Goldsbrough (So)/Brice Kofane (Fr)
G/F: Gerard Coleman (So)/LeDonate Henton (Fr)
G: Bryce Cotton (So)
PG: Vincent Council (Jr)/Kiwi Gardner (Fr)
Gone: SG-Marshon Brooks, C-Ray Hall, G-Duke Mondy (dismissed), PG Dre Evans (dismissed)
My favorite joke about the Friars the past few seasons is when I would refer to them as “Provience” since they had no ‘D’ and were one of the worst defensive teams in the country. First year head coach Ed Cooley is ready to change that fact. He recently stated in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz that his number one goal is to “focus on fundamentals defensively.”
Since the Friars lose Marshon Brooks, who was the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, defense is a wise place to start. Providence finished 310th in Division One, allowing more than 75 points per game with opponents shooting nearly 50% from the field.
Replacing Brooks offensive output will be a team effort. Starting point guard Vincent Council was second on the team in scoring last season but also averaged just less than six assists per game. He will likely be joined on the wing by sophomores Gerard Coleman and Bryce Cotton. Coleman had a productive freshman campaign while Cotton was a key contributor off the bench. Neither guy shot the ball particularly well last season which leaves the Friars without a dangerous sharpshooting threat.
Depth will be an issue for Cooley on the perimeter especially since Duke Mondy and Dre Evans were dismissed from the program during the off-season. 5-8 freshman Kiwi Gardner is known for his quickness and should allow Council to play off the ball some. Fellow newcomer LeDontae Hinton is the only other wing player under scholarship though he will likely be an energy player off the bench rather than an additional scorer.
Up-front, PC does return their starting frontcourt from last season. Kadeem Betts and Bilal Dixon bring some beef inside but are not the most athletic or skilled post players. Seldom used a year ago, sophomores Ron Giplaye and Lee Goldsbrough do not provide much size off the bench and will compete for minutes off the bench along with redshirt freshman Brice Kofane.
With no seniors on the roster and only ten scholarship players, Cooley will have to try to keep his head above water in what figures to be another season filled with struggles at Providence.
Player to Watch: Gerard Coleman
The 6-4 shooting guard was one of the better freshmen in the Big East last season despite struggling with his jump shot for most of the year. Coleman was a staple in Providence’s four-guard line-up that they often put on the floor last season. Cooley’s commitment to defense should mean the Friars will play more of a tradition line-up with more size protecting the rim. Therefore, Coleman will have to sharpen up his half-court game and become a more consistent outside shooter. He by no means will be able to replace what Brooks brought to the team a year ago, but will need to help be part of the team effort to pick up the scoring left behind by Brooks.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25, 26 vs. Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Rice, Western Carolina, Northern Colorado, Southern U., Florida A&M (South Padre Island Invitational)
12/1 at South Carolina (Big East/SEC Challenge)
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a fomer contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.