With only 38 days until college basketball starts, I’ve predicted the following Big East standings so far:
8: St. John’s
With the team I predict to finish 7th, I go to New England with the Providence Friars.
2015 – 2016 season
The Providence Friars had one of their all time best seasons as they won 24 games, which is the 4th best mark in Friar history, which has been achieved numerous times with Coach Joseph Mullaney, Coach David Gavitt ,Coach Rick Pitino and Coach Pete Gillen. PC also reached 8th in the AP poll, which is their 5th highest mark ever and had a top 5 player picked in the NBA in Kris Dunn and one drafted in the second round in Ben Bentil. Providence had a 12-1 OOC with wins over Arizona, Rhode Island, Illinois and UMass and their only loss a neutral site game to Michigan State. While they started strong in the BE capped by a big win @Villanova, they spiraled a bit and ended the season 7-8, including losses to DePaul, Marquette, and blow out losses to Seton Hall and Xavier, a semi-final loss in the Big East Tournament to Villanova, and a 2nd round loss to NCAA runner-up North Carolina.
Providence was a very good defensive team and that started with the Big East player of the year, Kris Dunn, who was 8th in the country in steal rate. The offense wasn’t too shabby either and the offense also went through Kris Dunn as he had the 5th best assist rate in the country, drew a lot of fouls and shot a decent percentage from 3. The other main man was Ben Bentil, who took a lot of shots, but also made a lot of shots. Providence was a top offensive rebounding team and Bentil’s hustle and grit was a main reason why. While Dunn and Bentil were the main reasons why PC was so successful, other players had great years which led to PC being 25th in the nation in assists, and 52nd in the country in 3 point defense.
Who is left from last year?
The main reason PC is 7th in my rankings is because of whom they lost. Mentioned above, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil left for the NBA and were drafted by the Timberwolves and Celtics respectively. For all of their greatness, these two were the biggest impact as Dunn averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game while Bentil averaged 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. That’s not to say those were the only guys they lost as they had 3 players transfer out as well as sophomore big man Quadree Smith transferred, senior guard Junior Lomomba transferred to Western Kentucky and junior guard Tyree Chambers transferred to Div-II Le Moyne. Lomomba played in every game last season and averaged 5.3 points, while Smith and Chambers were used sparingly.
Who is new?
Providence has 5 new players, including a JUCO, a transfer from George Mason and 3 incoming freshman. The transfer is Isaiah Jackson, a 6 ft 6 guard who had a nice freshman year with George Mason averaging 8.7 points and 3.9 rebounds. After sitting out a year, he’ll definitely play a lot as while his shooting numbers weren’t great from 2, he did shoot almost 36% from 3. The other transfer is Emmitt Holt, who played a year at Indian Hills CC last year after playing for Indiana University as a freshman. Holt averaged around 11/7 for Indian Hills and will add some much needed size to PC. Their 3 freshman may have an immediate impact and the one player who will likely play a lot is Kalif Young, a 6 ft 9 Canadian who chose PC over Marquette. He’ll provide some length and shot blocking and while a bit raw, will definitely earn minutes. PG Maliek White is a 6 ft 1 who reminds me a bit of their returning PG, Kyron Cartwright, who is a pass-first type of player, but knows how to play. The best player of the bunch might be Alpha Diallo, a 4 star wing player who can score. While his position is blocked by some upperclassmen, he’ll definitely earn minutes this year.
Who is returning?
There are no returning seniors on the team, but 6 guys return from their NCAA tournament team last year and the best of the bunch are Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock. Cartwright averaged 5.9 points and 4 assists per game and played 24 minutes per game, often moving Dunn over to the 2 when they played together. Bullock is the only returning player who averaged double digit points as he averaged 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just under 33 minutes per game. The other 4 returning players are 6 ft 7 wing Jalen Lindsey (7 points, 4.4 rebounds) who is known as a shooter but shot just 27% from 3, Ryan Fazekas (5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds), a 6 ft 8 forward who is also known as a shooter, but shot almost 35% from 3, Drew Edwards (2.4 points), a 6 ft 4 guard who gave Providence productive minutes and 6 ft 5 guard Ricky Council, who played sparingly.
Big OOC games
Providence played a solid OOC schedule last year and will likely play a similar slate to last year as they play a lot of the same teams as before. Top games include @ Ohio State for the Gavitt games, vs. Memphis and either Iowa/Virginia in the Emerald Coast Classic and home against URI and UMass as both games were away last year. The remainder of their OOC schedule is likely cupcake city as they play Vermont, Grambling St, St. Francis Brooklyn, New Hampshire, Brown, Wagner and Maine, all in the confines of the Dunk and make the short road trip up to Chestnut Hill and play Boston College 2 days before Christmas.
PG – Kyron Cartwright (JR - 5 ft 11)
SG – Drew Edwards (SO – 6 ft 4)
SF – Ryan Fazekas (SO – 6 ft 8)
PF – Rodney Bullock (JR - 6 ft 8)
PF – Emmitt Holt (JR - 6 ft 7)
Remaining rotation (in anticipated order):
SG – Isaiah Jackson (SO – 6 ft 6)
SF – Jalen Lindsey (JR – 6 ft 8)
PF – Kalif Young (FR - 6 ft 9)
SF – Alpha Diallo (FR – 6 ft 7)
SG – Rickey Council (SO - 6 ft 5)
PG – Maliek White (FR – 6 ft 2)
This is definitely a rebuilding year for Providence, but it’s so hard to count out Coach Cooley, who has done a fantastic job with this team. Providence will play hard, play together and while they have some pieces, are likely a year away from making it back to the top 5 of the Big East, where they’ve lived the past few seasons. The OOC schedule sets up nicely for this team to win a bunch of games, but the Big East will prove to be difficult for a team without a scholarship senior for the 2nd straight season. Scoring might prove to be difficult for this team, but I also expect them to be in the upper half in defense, slow the game down a bit and be very methodical, which will result in some ugly games, but could also produce some wins. Coach Cooley will likely get a pass for this year, but I expect them to be back very soon.
OOC – 10-3
Big East – 7-11
Combined – 17-14