Providence fans are ordinarily a pessimistic bunch, what with eight years of mediocrity, losing records and disappointments pushing against the fabric of hope and disbelief. So, while waiting on Brandon Austin's decision and/or the impending implosion of the Big East Conference, what's happening on the court deserves some thankful attention. [See edit below.]
Since this is Thanksgiving week, why not look at what there is to be thankful about in Friartown?
• We're thankful that the lightbulb seems to have finally clicked on for Kadeem Batts. The redshirt junior is playing with fire and passion and his talent is showing. And not a moment too soon. As thin as PC is right now in the frontcourt, the Friars desperately needed one of their big men to step up. Batts has responded with 10 points/8 rebounds against NJIT; 27 points/9 rebounds against Bryant; 19 points/9 rebounds against UMass; 17 points/11 rebounds against Penn State and 15 points/11 rebounds against UNC Ashville. Without question, this is Batts' most productive stretch as a Friar.
• We're thankful that Bryce Cotton's sprained ankle didn't keep him out of more than one game. Of course, with Cotton, PC probably wins that game against Penn State, but we don't want to be greedy. And Cotton returned with a superb 30 point performance against UNC Ashville… even on an ankle that wasn't quite 100 percent.
• We're thankful that Vince Council's MRI on his hamstring didn't show a tear. We'd be more thankful if he returned sooner rather than later.
• We're thankful that PC has a walk-on the quality of Ted Bancroft. Not all walk-ons are created equal and not every walk-on could have started and played all 45 minutes, as Bancroft did against Penn State. And he contributed on both sides of the ball.
• We're thankful that Lee Goldsbrough hit that jumper against UNC Ashville to put PC back in the lead with two and a half minutes left. We're really thankful about that, especially since Lee has passed up even more open jumpers in the past. Maybe this will get his confidence going.
• We're thankful that every day brings us one day closer to getting Kris Dunn healthy enough to play.
• And one day closer to when Sidiki Johnson is eligible to play. He and Batts should make for a decent front line.
• We're thankful for five days off so this gritty, never-say-die team can rest up for Friday's game against Fairfield. Playing with seven guys and six scholarship players is no picnic and the Friars have responded with aplomb.
• We're thankful that no one has fouled out yet. Several Friars have accumulated four fouls in games, but none have been forced to the pine. Especially in the Penn State game when only six players were available.
• We're thankful for strength and conditioning coach Ken White. Not every team has players who are so well conditioned that they can go 40 full minutes – or more – if necessary. That doesn't happen by accident. White is an unsung hero this season. And so is trainer Bryn VanPatten, who keeps these guys on the court through all the nicks and bangs.
• We're very thankful that Mr. Brandon Austin has chosen the Providence College basketball program! Thank you, Brandon!
• And, finally, we're thankful for coach Ed Cooley and his staff. Cooley has been dealt a bad hand, even if he won't say it, and has turned lemons into lemonade. That's good coaching, plain and simple. Six scholarship guys to work with, and the team is getting visibly, demonstrably better. Lose the best point guard around and your best player, and the team gets better. Cooley is a breath of fresh air on the sidelines and, along with his staff, is doing a remarkable job with this team. The Friars promise to be a truly potent team – and one fully capable of playing meaningful games in March – once reinforcements arrive. Happy Thanksgiving, Friars, and thank you.
A Friar Thanksgiving
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