Friar Wish List

Doesn't it seem like months ago that the Friars' season ended? In between watching games this March, I've given some thought as to what exactly I would like to see out of PC next season. Aside from the obvious, an NCAA tournament run, there are five things I would love to see out of Tim Welsh and his team next year.

1. Someone taking 'The Leap'

Since Welsh took over in 1998, there has not been a player who looked dramatically different than he had in the past. Marcus Douthit is the possible exception, as he rebounded nicely after a horrendous sophomore season, but he showed flashes during his freshman year.

Under Welsh, there has not been a player who made an Aaron Gray-like transformation, the type of improvement a kid looks like a completely different player. Assuming everyone returns for next season, PC has four kids who could potentially take 'The Leap.'

I'm talking, of course, about Randall Hanke, Weyinmi Efejuku, Geoff McDermott and Jon Kale. For all of the offensive potential Hanke has, he is below average with his back to the basket. He has a nice face-up jumper that was under-utilized this year. Hanke's most glaring problem, and this has been beaten to death, is on the defensive side of the ball. With added strength, PC will be able to better utilize his speed and touch on the offensive end. He is closer than he showed this year, it is just a matter of getting tougher. The question may become if the problem is in his biceps or his belly.

McDermott will be a core player on his rebounding prowess alone. That won't be enough for PC next year though. If he becomes a 75% foul shooter, he is a double double guy every night. The foot injury did slow him this year, but he was raw offensively anyway. He doesn't have to be a scorer for PC, just a guy who you have to respect. He already has two vital skills with his rebounding ability and his knack for getting to the line.

Efejuku can become a big time scorer in the Big East. With his atheltic ability the defense will come, but it all comes down to perimeter shooting. November is a long way away, and if he shoots a couple hundred jumpers a day, we could be looking at a different player in his sophomore season.

Jon Kale can play the game. He has a better touch around the hoop than he showed this year, and he has good hands. Just getting on the court is going to be big for him.

2. Play BC

I hate them for leaving, but I did miss seeing the Eagles this year. It may have been a good thing that this year's physical Boston College team didn't play PC, but the matchups recently have been exciting. >From Rome Augustine's shot rimming out at the buzzer, a young Donnie McGrath lighting up the Eagles as Friar fans take over Conte Forum, to BC coming back from double digit deficits twice last year, these teams have played great games.

McDermott against Jared Dudley would get physical.

3. Make a Big East Tournament run

It has been too long since the Friars have seen Friday night in New York. It would do wonders for the program, from both a perception standpoint and for the player's confidence, to play Prime Time games at Madison Square Garden.

For Welsh, it would alleviate one of the knocks against him (one tournament win in 8 years in the apple) and a buzz would return to the program.

4. Act, don't react

Providence has simply been too passive in recent years. They have to learn how to attack someone and step on their throat when they have them down. They need to get to a point in which they believe they are in any game, no matter the score or the opponent.

This attitude comes with their style of play. Unless something changes dramatically next year, this team will be an average defensive team at best. With six guards, and mobile big men, the press may be in order. They do not have great half court offensive players, and the loss of Donnie McGrath only adds to that.

That being said, it is time to bring back the press. Efejuku and Curry are lightening quick, McDermott is quicker than most Big East 4's and Hanke and Hill are faster than most centers in America. With four guards coming in, Welsh will have the bodies to press and trap.

What does the press bring to PC? It creates offense, gives PC a better shot on defense, wears down their opponent, and excites fans. Three big problems are resolved right there: the defense has been horrible, they have had trouble closing, and the Dunk has been too quiet.

5. Play with a swagger.

Too often, teams have pushed and Friars haven't pushed back. A comment that no one talked about, but what I found troubling came after PC's loss to UConn. Coach Welsh stated that Connecticut was so talented that Providence would have to play a great game and catch the Huskies on an off-night in order to beat them. Did George Mason catch them on an off day? Is Mason that much more talented than the Friars?

It is time for Providence to step on the court with a chip on their shoulder. Two years ago they were soft, this past year the freshman class brought more toughness, and now the next step is to push someone first and see if they will push you back. If they don't, attack them and keep your foot on their throat. At the least, let other members of the Big East know that if they are playing Providence they are going to have someone in their chest for 40 minutes.

There was a shift in attitude in 2005-06 from the year before. Missing the Big East Tournament masked that, but this team scrapped more than in '04-05, with freshmen that were learning on the fly. The next step is to go from pesky to dangerous. Dangerous teams attack you and see how you react, not vice versa. It is time for PC to go on the attack.

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