Role Continuity Pays Dividends

It has taken 20 games, but it seems as though Providence has finally found some continuity on the floor. In the two seasons in which Tim Welsh led the Friars to the NCAA tournament there were defined roles for each player from the start of the season.

The idea that experienced teams win in college basketball is true, but even more important than experience is a team having this sense of continuity and identity.

After the mass departure of 2000, PC was left with five contributors from the year before, with four freshman who came in and played a role. John Linehan was the leader and set a defensive tone, Erron Maxey brought that same aggression, Karim Shabazz was a presence in the paint and sophomores Rome Augustin and Abdul Mills came into their own as Providence ran off 11 Big East wins.

Was this the most experienced team in the Big East? No. Maxey was a four year contributor and Linehan gave them good minutes in the two seasons he was healthy prior to that one, but Shabazz had only played half a season in the Big East after seeing limited time at Florida State, and Mills and Augustin saw sporadic time as freshman.

Some of the key players on that team were new to the Big East and even new to the country. Maris Laksa and Chris Anrin were asked to be nothing more than shooters and they excelled in that role. Gutsy freshman guard Sheiku Kabba found playing time as a combo guard off of the bench and Marcus Douthit supplied energy in the middle behind Shabazz.

Players knew their roles from early on, and after a confidence building trouncing of URI they were on their way.

In 2004, roles were defined from day one and Welsh's Friars flourished. That team came together at the end of 2003 and carried it over into 2004. What may have actually hurt Providence that year was having players step out of that role as the season continued. The cohesion was taken away and the season quickly fell apart.

This is why Tim Welsh's job has been so difficult this year. Not only has he had to go with inexperienced players, but he has had to mix and match to find the right combinations in a live environment.

Two veterans left the team, the only senior was learning a new position, he had no idea what to expect out of his centers, and as we have learned by now, you never know what you are going to get from your freshman.

20 games into the season and we are starting to see consistency in the lineup. I wrote last week about how Sharaud Curry has been the best thing to come of the 2005-06 season. The Friars look to be settled at point guard for four years.

Randall Hanke has struggled defensively this year. Enter Herb Hill. Hill has never played with as much confidence as is right now and he results are showing on the floor and in the box score. He has scored in doubled figures in four of the last five games, but more importantly, he has been a presence in the middle of the zone.

Geoff McDermott continues to battle under the boards. He controlled the glass in the second half of the St. John's game, and will provide an toughness that has been sorely lacking at PC.

It has taken 20 games, but continuity is being built out there. While this team is most likely not on the verge of an amazing run this year, they continue to build. A Big East and NIT bid would be a nice building block going for a team with an eye on this season, but a vision of greater things to come.

Looking forward to 2006-07, the Friars will enter that season knowing they will get solid play from their point man and aggression from McDermott. If Hanke and Hill can stabilize the center position and one or two of the youngsters step up, this rebuilding process will expedite faster than most envisioned.

This team wants nothing to do with next year at this point. With seven Big East games left and possible appearances in two tournaments there is still plenty of time for guys like Weyinmi Efejuku and Hanke to step up and solidify their role for the future.

Sharaud Curry and Geoff McDermott have done so and Herb Hill is looking more solid by the game. Who's next?

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