#76 Providence Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Providence Friars

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #76
Conference Rank: #7 Big East

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Providence reached the NCAA Tournament last year as a six seed and were right in the mix among the best teams in the Big East behind Villanova. An 11-7 conference mark may not sound all that impressive and bowing out of the NCAA Tournament early again was unfortunate, but the Big East was pretty tough from top to bottom and 11-7 was good enough for fourth place. The Friars will struggle to make the NCAA Tournament this year, but the return of Kris Dunn gives them a shot. Dunn could have left for the NBA, yet opted to return for his junior campaign after averaging 15.6 points, 7.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals last season. Dunn can certainly improve his outside shooting, but he will score more than enough by attacking the basket. With all of the other top scorers gone, Dunn will be asked to carry this team, especially early in the season. He can carry them all the way to the NCAA Tournament.

2014-15 Record: 22-12, 11-7
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Ed Cooley
Coach Record: 79-56 at Providence, 171-125 overall

Who’s Out:
The frontcourt is absolutely decimated with the graduation of LaDontae Henton and Carson Derosiers and the transfer of Tyler Harris. Henton has been a very dangerous inside-outside scoring threat for the last four years. He has also led the Friars in rebounding all four seasons. Last year he averaged a team high 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds and knocked down 64 three-pointers. Derosiers was the big body in the paint. The seven-footer blocked 2.5 shots per game as a senior and added 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds. Harris would do a bit of everything. The 6-9 forward could knock down three-pointers and score in the paint. The transfer of Paschal Chukwu, who averaged 9.9 minutes per game as a freshman, leaves Coach Ed Cooley with few frontcourt options.

Who’s In:
The newcomers will get an opportunity to contribute, especially in the frontcourt. Most notable is Rodney Bullock. Two years ago he missed a year for off-court issues. Last year a leg injury sidelined the 6-8, 225 pound forward. Bullock was not a big time recruit who was expected to immediately make a huge impact or anything, but his experience in the system does give him a leg up when it comes to filling in the minutes lost with Henton, Derosiers and Harris. Incoming freshman Quadree Smith is a big 6-8, 285 pounder who can score around the basket as a freshman. Conditioning may be his biggest issue this year. Ricky Council and Ryan Fazekas are big guards. Council can attack the basket, while the 6-8 Fazekas is basically a pure shooter at this point in his career. Point guard Drew Edwards could see some minutes too thanks to his defense.

Who to Watch:
The Friars will need the four other returning players to join Dunn as productive players. The good news is all four started at least eight games last season, but the bad news is none of them averaged more than 6.4 points per game. Ben Bentil, a 6-9 sophomore, was the most productive of the bunch in 2014-2015, averaging 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. His tenacity on both ends of the floor is tough to match and he can even stretch the defense with his outside shooting. If Providence is going to end up on the right side of the bubble, Bentil will likely be a big reason why. Jalen Lindsey and Junior Lomomba are the experienced wings. Lindsey showed a lot of promise as a freshman, mostly by knocking down three-pointers. Now he will need to turn that promise into production. Kyron Cartwright, yet another sophomore, is a quality point guard. He may have tried to extend his shooting range a bit much last year, but he can attack the basket and find open teammates. With him starting beside Dunn, Coach Cooley has two guys who can drive and dish extremely effectively.

Final Projection:
With Dunn and Cartwright attacking the basket, finding somebody who can shoot is very important. Last year it was Henton who was hitting three-pointers. This year it will have to be Lindsey or one of the newcomers, likely Fazekas. As long as some of the underclassmen step up their game and look to score more often, Providence will be in good shape. That may not lead to their preferred destination, but with this young team, a trip to the NIT would be a good place to build for the future.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Kyron Cartwright, Sophomore, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Kris Dunn, Junior, Guard, 15.6 points per game
Jalen Lindsey, Sophomore, Guard, 3.8 points per game
Rodney Bullock, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Ben Bentil, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.7 (108th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (140, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (148, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (124, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (295, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.3 (289, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.7 (112, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (56, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (77, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (119, 5)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#12 Kris Dunn

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#143 Alex Owens


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