Shorthanded Friars Set To Start The Season

Providence College will have to play with just seven scholarship players when they tackle their two exhibition opponents.

As the Friars open their season Saturday evening against Laval University and on Tuesday against the EA All-Stars, the team looks to be shorthanded. Sophomores DeSean White and Charles Burch, as well as promising freshman Sharaud Curry will likely miss both exhibition games due to injuries.

Burch's injury appears to be the most difficult to diagnose. The 6'6 forward has been suffering from back spasms and the coaching staff has decided to shut him down, in hopes that rest will aid his recovery. His timetable for return is completely up in the air.

White injured his toe during preseason workouts, and the injury has continued to flare up. The team placed White in a boot again last week, and his return may depend on his pain threshold, but sources indicated that he would be out of action for a couple of weeks. White hobbled noticeably during the Mal Brown scrimmage whenever he came off the floor, although he seemed effective while in the game.

The Friars may have caught a break with Curry's injury. At first, it was feared that Curry had suffered ligament damage to a finger, which could have kept him out until January, but the injury doesn't involve ligaments, so the freshman should be ready for the season opener. Still, his injury comes at a bad time. These two exhibition games would have served as a perfect environment for Curry to gain experience running the team, with Donnie McGrath sliding over to the shooting guard slot. Curry had been playing extremely well in practices and was slotted for quite a bit of time at the point.

So, PC will have only seven scholarship players available for the exhibition slate. Going with a ten man roster is always a precarious situation, and the Friars are only one more injury or a little bit of foul trouble away from a crisis situation. It now becomes a lot clearer why PC pursued players like Saiquon Stone and Montez Downey for this season.

Expect walk-on Ray Cross to see serious minutes, and walk-ons Tim Englert and Sean Van De Walle may also see more time than normal out of necessity.

As for the games themselves, the Friars face a couple of unknown quantities and questionable competition. Laval has no player taller than 6'7, and you never know up until game time which players are going to show up for the EA All-Stars.

There are a couple of things to watch for in these games, however. The first is PC's team defense. Will it be improved from last season, and particularly inside? Laval's biggest player is 6'7 and 220 pounds, and if they take it to the hoop against PC repeatedly, that will be a red flag for when the Friars begin play against more rugged opponents. Randall Hanke, Herb Hill and Jon Kale have to show that they can protect the basket, especially in these contests against lesser opponents,

Who will step up as a go-to scorer with Ryan Gomes gone? Will it be Dwight Brewington, who needs to show that he is playing more under control? Will it be Donnie McGrath, who has been a streaky shooter in the past, but hopefully, when Curry comes back, can free himself up for more open looks by playing off the ball? Will Randall Hanke show that he can be more than a garbage man, and establish himself as a lows post, post-up type player? Or, will it be one of the freshmen?

And speaking of the freshmen, the Friars need to get serious contributions out of their young players. This is a team with one senior and two juniors. Freshmen like Geoff McDermott and Jon Kale, along with Curry, are being counted on for big contributions this year. These games will hopefully give a glimpse of what the freshmen can provide.

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