Perception becomes reality and one of the major knocks against Tim Welsh is that his players do not get drastically better from the moment they set foot on Smith Hill to the time they leave. Ryan Gomes is an obvious exception, but if we were to take a step back and look at the players who have played under Welsh we would be hard pressed to find another player who has taken "The Leap."
Welsh, and his staff, have done a nice job bringing talent to Providence, but it is this lack of player development that has caused the Friars to stumble in postseason play. March is when the best teams and individuals peak and too often teams that were on par with Providence back in November have surpassed them come March.
Perhaps the criticism is not fair. Players have left the program, promising youngsters like Abdul Mills and Rome Augustin were injured and never returned to form. No matter what the reason, it is time for Tim Welsh to shake this perception against him.
Expectations have not been this low since the embarassment that was the 2000 season, which was followed by a season in which Welsh led a team that supposedly had little talent to a school record 11 Big East wins. That was a great one year run, but once Erron Maxey and Karim Shabazz left the program, it fell on guys like Marcus Douthit and Maris Laksa to pick up the slack and they simply did not improve enough.
The Coach has an opportunity to quiet his critics with this year's squad. Providence is going to need at least two players to take "The Leap" and he has three chances to make this happen in Randall Hanke, Dwight Brewington, and DeSean White.
Has there been a time during Welsh's tenure in which he had three players this talented who have not even begun to tap their potential? Hanke and Brewington have both played a few great games, but it is White who could have the biggest impact on a team lacking a play-making lead guard.
As a freshman, D-White could be a maddening player to watch. So many of the skills that he posesses are things that other big men can only dream of. He has liabilities on the defensive end, but he is an above average face up
jump shooter and at times his passing can be nothing short of amazing. He can also put the ball on the floor and get past most fours in college basketball.
Welsh can stick him at the top of the key and let the offense flow through White. In a dream world, we will be watching defenses pick their poison: get beat by his 17 footer or play up on him and let his passing/handling skills pick you apart.
Unfortunately, this is not a dream world. In order for the offense to run through young DeSean, he will have to transform himself into a freshman who showed flashes, but too often played out of control to a sophomore who
realizes how easy the game can be for a triple threat big man. This is where Welsh must come in and demand that White improve his basketball IQ. He needs to not only demand it, but show the youngster where his opportunities will arise on the offensive end.
Any good coach will tell you that a point guard is doing his job if he is consistently getting in the paint. Unless Donnie McGrath transforms himself, or a freshman makes an unexpected impact at the one this year, the Friars will be playing without this kind of point guard. Maybe it is time to stop filtering the offense through a traditional point guard and start going with a point forward.
DeSean White has the potential to be absolutely lethal in the half court set. If Welsh wants to lose the reputation as a guy who does not take teams far into postseason play or as a guy who does not develop players well, DeSean White would be a great start.
The Coach may get a free pass this year with expectations being as low as they are, but come White's junior season Friar fans expect to be dancing again. Players with this skill set do not come along often and Welsh would be wise to make DeSean a big part of the offense this year, not only for the player's development, but for his own.
PLAYER PROFILE: DeSEAN WHITE
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