Friars Weekly

The strength of the 2005-06 Friars was supposed to be in the backcourt. Donnie McGrath looked to be a four year starter at point guard and Dwight Brewington was the starter at the off guard spot. Brewington's departure from Providence has been well-documented and at first glimpse, it really hurts.

The Friars lost their leading scorer, a kid with great athletic ability who started last season on fire. Dwight Brewington is not a kid anymore. He had a great opportunity this year and will not take advantage of it. There are still rumors that Brewington could return to the team, but it makes no sense on so many levels. The most obvious is the message it sends to the rest of the team, but an examination of what Brewington's departure means to this team strictly on the court provides further proof that it is simply time to move on.

For the future of the program, it is vital that Sharaud Curry and Weyinmi Efejuku get some real playing time this year. Efejuku has been solid to this point. He is poised, gritty and plays the game at a different speed than any guard at Providence has in recent memory.

Curry has struggled in getting his shot off, but he plays the game with his head up and is a willing defender. This freshman can really shoot the ball, but at his size he needs to adjust to the Division 1 game and realize when he can get his shot off. Friar fans are going to be surprised at what a great shooter he is.

The biggest impact may be on McGrath. The senior looks more comfortable this year and is getting better looks than he ever has. He is much more active on the offensive end, coming off of screens and knocking down an occassional 18 footer in addition to his game beyond the arc. Donnie has to enjoy this offensive freedom that has come with the freshmen taking on the point guard duties.

The play of Efejuku, in addition to McGrath's rebirth at shooting guard has not only taken the sting out of Brewington's absence, but may end up helping this young team in the end.

Continuing to Stroke It

It is time to get Randall Hanke more touches. Through two games, the sophomore is shooting 90%, after a 10-11 opener against Vermont and 8-9 against New Hampshire. Hanke very well could break his Providence record of 72% shooting at this rate, but the Friars may actually benefit from Hanke bringing that number down a bit. How? Hanke is more than just a big man with a nice touch around the rim. He can step back to 18 feet and has a developing post up game. More shots will lead to a lower shooting percentage, but this guy is too talented to not be taking 15 shots per game.



Burch a Glue-Guy

The stable play of Chuck Burch should not come as a surprise to Friar fans. There were moments a year ago in which Burch flashed an outside shot and showed an ability to get dirty inside. He should serve as a solid role player for the Friars over the next three seasons.

The Week Ahead

This week will go a long way in shaping how the season will go for the Friars. With three roads games against Fairfield, Witchita State and URI, Providence could very well end the week 5-0 or 2-3. The loss of DeSean White will hurt this week. The hope here is that the freshman continue to show the poise and aggression on the road as they have at home.

With Florida and Memphis due up the following week, this Friars' squad needs to pick up a couple of wins this week.

FAIRFIELD

The Friars start the week with an interesting matchup at Fairfield. For the four freshmen, this will be their first test of playing on the road.

"It's a whole new experience for them," said Tim Welsh. "They have to react to being on the road, being in a hostile environment, traveling, being away from school. You have to show a lot of maturity on the road. But our guys all come from major, winning programs. There's not much that they haven't seen."

Playing at Wichita State and at Rhode Island will be much more hostile than playing at Fairfield, which drew just 2900 fans to its last game. Still, playing the 0-2 Stags on the road will be a challenge for a young team.

Fairfield struggled to score as it lost its first two games, 69-64 to St. Francis (NY) and 72-41 to St. Joseph's. Freshman guard Jon Han, a one time PC recruiting target, leads the team at 12.5 ppg, while backcourt mate Terrence Todd, last year's scoring leader, is at 11.5 ppg. These two six footers are quick, can shoot, and must be contained.

Up front, the Stags aren't big, which bodes well for Randall Hanke. Marty O'Sullivan is Fairfield's biggest starter, at 6'7, but he can rebound well for his size and PC will keep an eye on him. The other starting forwards are both 6'4, and PC should have a decided height (and weight) advantage inside.

This will be an important game to grab for the Friars, as the week heats up with trips to Wichita State and the Ryan Center.

(Richard Coren contributed the Fairfield write up.)

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