Thin Roster Jeopardizes Friars

With the news that Ricardo Ledo will be eligible to practice but not play this year, the Friars now have a full view of what their projected roster will look like for this season. As Providence College heads into the 2012-13 season, they face a unique situation that will affect their lineup, scholarship situation and practice squad.

1. The Friars will have the thinnest lineup they've ever seen for the first semester

While Providence is no stranger to a lack of depth, the first half of the basketball season will feature the thinnest roster Providence has seen yet. With Ricky Ledo ineligible to play in games this season, Kris Dunn out for the first half of the season with a shoulder injury, Sidiki Johnson sitting out the first semester as part of his transfer obligation, and Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers sitting out this season because of their transfer status, Providence will be only seven scholarship players deep for their non conference schedule. The six returning Friars – Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, LaDontae Henton, Brice Kofane, Kadeem Batts, Lee Goldsborough – are joined by freshman Josh Fortune and walk on Ted Bancroft to tackle the non conference schedule. Those who saw minutes run high and legs go tired last year will wish we had the extra body or two, even for a few minutes, because the first semester will wear and tear down the majority of this season's roster. This creates several problems, most notably…

2. The risk of injuries shoot up tremendously, style of play will be altered

As these eight play significant minutes they are going to get worn out. Without having anyone to provide the rest they need they will not have the option to stop playing, and need to carry forward. This means that as they get more tired, they run the risk of becoming injured – an event that will add even more of a burden on an already razor-thin roster. Furthermore, foul trouble is now an extreme danger for this team. Should someone pick up too many fouls, especially a backcourt player, Ed Cooley will be forced to either burden a player with even more minutes or play a walk on for a significant amount of time. Cooley is going to be forced to play a much less aggressive style of defense in this situation, which means many games could get out of hand quick because of a few quick fouls. Even when second semester rolls around and Johnson and (assumingly) Dunn can play, there won't be much time for rest. However, with their additions…

3. Providence becomes a whole different team second semester

A different team does not promise more wins, but it will certainly help to add depth to both the backcourt and the frontcourt. Ironically, while there was a need to add a big man for this season, the true lack of depth comes in the backcourt, with only three scholarship players a definite for the season barring injury. Dunn, while making a good recovery, is not a promise, and if he doesn't play, it will be dependant on Council, Cotton, and Fortune to carry the weight throughout the season. If Dunn does play he'll be able to play the one or the two, providing a nice rotation between Fortune, Cotton, and Council to provide them with what will be much needed rest without compromising a lack of talent on the court. The frontcourt, however, has a reasonable amount of depth second semester with the addition of Johnson, making five total scholarship players in the front. While the immediate fix might be to find a very late season player for this year, odds are slim for two reasons. One is the timing (which makes it pretty much impossible), and the other being…

4. PC's scholarship situation

PC will have seven players on scholarship playing the first semester, and assuming Dunn can play second semester he college will have nine. However, the total roster has 12 scholarship players, which means the Friars don't even have the flexibility to find a lot of "quick patches" for this season. This makes for a great 2013-14 season provided they all stay, but for now…

5. The bulk of the team is a practice squad

This goes without saying, but the problem is that a lot of major talent resides in that practice squad. With Ledo, Desrosiers, and Harris sitting this year PC loses out on three top 100 players seeing court time. And with Dunn and Sidiki out first semester that makes five. Again, this is great for both improving the current eligible players as well as preparing for when all these guys can play, but for this season it's bittersweet knowing all this talent will be untouchable for at least the first semester. The good news is…

6. The non conference schedule is manageable for the most part

With the exception of the Puerto Rico Tip Off, every one of the Friars non conference games will be manageable, if not winnable. Early on the Friars will face a light schedule against NJIT and Bryant, and close out with trips to Brown and Boston College. These four are very winnable with the seven players PC will be fielding (Sidiki might be able to make the road trips as well, as the semester will have ended). Furthermore, URI and Fairfield are both manageable teams, and while they may provide challenges, are still winnable, given the talent the Friars will be fielding among the first semester players. The true test will come in Puerto Rico where the games will not only be concise but the talent level will skyrocket from the other non conference games. Battles against UMass and potentially North Carolina State in the first two days could wear out, if not completely fragment, the squad. And with a third game still to play in the tournament, it will take a lot of will for the Friars to overcome this schedule.

Conclusion

While not the best case scenario for Providence, there are still plenty of opportunities to win games both in the Big East as well as in non conference. Cooley's style will be altered - not only to prevent injury but also foul trouble, as either could force his hand to bench a scholarship player and sub in a walk on. As second semester comes and some depth is added, Cooley's defensive philosophies will become easier to implement, but it won't be until 2013-14, when the full roster will be on the court, that fans will begin to see Cooley's true system. Simply put, Providence doesn't have the roster depth needed to play Cooley ball, but Cooley is proving he can implement a style needed in order to suit the needs of his players. This year is unique for this situation in that it's not a lack of scholarship players, but a lack of eligibility from said players. With any luck the only scholarship player leaving after this season will be Council, due to graduation, and the core team that will have had a full year's worth of practice together will return for a strong 2013-2014 season. The most important thing to keep an eye out for this season is how Cooley manages the bench, especially in the first semester, in order to win games while preventing injuries and foul trouble.

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