#115 Providence Men's Basketball Preview

Providence Friars

Overall Rank: #115
Conference Rank: #13 Big East

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2010-11: 15-17, 4-14
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Ed Cooley (First year at Providence, 92-69 overall)

Coach Ed Cooley will look to inject some life into a Providence program that has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2004. Keno Davis left the Friars with a losing record during his four year reign, but he certainly did not leave the cupboard bare for Coach Cooley. Replacing Marshon Brooks will be a concern, but Gerard Coleman and Bryce Cotton are a couple of promising sophomores. Coleman had a fine freshman season, averaging 10.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Coleman needs to improve his outside shot to turn into a Brooks caliber player, but the 6-4 wing has the potential. Cotton did not earn too much playing time in 2010-2011, but the new coaching staff may see his potential and he can make a major contribution with more consistency.

Who’s Out:
Marhson Brooks easily led Providence with 24.6 points and 7.0 rebounds. He even added 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. That domination got him drafted in the first round. It will definitely take a team effort to replace the 6-5 guard. Providence will not be better without him, but this could turn into a better team now. Losing Duke Mondy and Dre Evans will not help the depth in the backcourt. Mondy was a great sixth man last season, averaging 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Ray Hall is the lone big man who will not be back for the 2011-2012 campaign.

Who’s In:
LaDontae Henton will attempt to do his part in replacing Brooks. The 6-6 small forward is an athletic player, but not by Big East standards. He will likely need some time to adjust to the level of play. Kiwi Gardner, a 5-7 point guard, may be forced into some playing time since there are few options at the point on the bench. Brice Kofane is the lone big man coming in this season. Despite only losing one big man, it is hoped that Kofane can provide some quality depth to a team that had to play undersized at times last season.

Who to Watch:
It was Kadeem Batts and Bilal Dixon who managed most of the frontcourt minutes last year and will again this year. Batts is the power forward who can score inside and outside. He does not have a great shot by any means, but he is a threat to step outside and consistently hit the mid-range jumper and occasionally even a three-pointer. The 6-9, 250 pound sophomore has plenty of room to grow and he could be in for a huge year. Bilal Dixon is one of the few upperclassmen who will see a significant role on this squad. The junior center is not much of a scorer, but he is a fine rebounder and the best shot blocker the Friars have. If he can start scoring more consistently in the paint, the entire offense will get better. Sophomores Ron Giplaye and Lee Goldsbrough averaged about five minutes per game as freshman, but both are capable of picking up their games, especially under a new coaching staff.

Final Projection:
Vincent Council will be the unquestioned leader of Providence. The 6-2 junior point guard averaged 13.9 points and 5.9 assists last season and will have to help develop the new, young scorers. If Coleman, Cotton and company fail to emerge as top notch Big East scorers, Council can do it himself. He is a capable outside shooter and a solid all-around scorer. Council even grabbed 4.2 rebounds per contest and is a pretty good rebounder for a point guard. He may be the player who puts up superb all-around numbers like Brooks did during his senior season. However, that may not be a good sign. The Friars will want more production out of other players, and more consistent outside shooting from the entire team. If they have to rely on Council too much, this team will not win more than four conference games again this year.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Vincent Council, Junior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Bryce Cotton, Sophomore, Guard, 4.0 points per game
Gerard Coleman, Sophomore, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Kadeem Batts, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Bilal Dixon, Junior, Center, 5.7 points per game

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