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Expectations Should Be High in Friar Town

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Big East Talk: Expectations Should Be High in Friar Town

After an unexpected trip to the Big Dance last March for Providence, expectations will be at an all-time high once November rolls around. Cooley and Company have made 4 straight tourney appearances and are primed to make a 5th in 2018.

Flash back to around this time last summer where the main question lingering in Friar Fans minds was nothing but “Who will step up this season and replace Batman and Robin?”.

I mean, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Then again, of course, I can recall the summer before that and fans were wondering who would replace 2,000 point scorer Ladontae Henton. Oh, and the summer before that wondering who would replace Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts. To answer the original question, the answer was everybody.

Everybody stepped up last season. It was a much more balanced offense and teams couldn’t put all of their focus on one go-to guy.

Well, the 2016-2017 Friars who were preseason picked 9th in the Big East Conference finished with a record of 20-13 and finished 3rd in the Big East with no seniors. No seniors paired up with the 15th ranked incoming recruiting class (according to Rivals) seems like a recipe for success to me.

This incoming class accounts for a plethora of needs. Start with Makai Ashton-Langford, the former Uconn commit who asked out of his letter of intent early in the spring and hoped on board with Cooley shortly after. Ashton-Langford was ranked 44th in the class of ’17 by Rivals and is also a top 50 prospect in ESPN’s rankings. The crafty point guard will give the Friars another player with the ability to create for himself and attack the basket, something they so desperately needed last season.

Big men Nate Watson (ranked 84th by rivals) and Dajour Dickens (ranked 121st by rivals) make what was a relatively thin front court now seem a bit clogged up. Watson and Dickens remind me a lot of the class of ’14 front court. Watson (6’8 250 lbs) built like Ben Bentil, will be expected to compete for minutes from day one. Dickens ( 6’10 205 lbs) could be the rim protector we all hoped current Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu would have been.

Although it’s only July, Friar Fans should start getting excited about the upcoming season.

 

Friars

A Look at Providence’s Conference Schedule for ’17-’18

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The Big East Conference officially released their conference schedules today. Although I must say it isn’t quite that fun to dissect simply because of the double round robin format, it’s still worth taking a look at.

Providence starts off their conference slate with a pair road games. First up is @ Saint John’s, a game being played at Carnesecca Arena on December 28th. Following the Red Storm is a trip to Creighton on New Year’s Eve at 2:30. It’s always tough to win on the road, especially @Creighton, but hopefully with a group of veterans returning the team can get off to a hot start to conference play and end 2017 in style.

To start off the New Year the Friars play host to the Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday, January 3rd. Next up on the schedule is Xavier on Saturday the 6th, a team coming off an elite 8 appearance last season. Realistically all of the games played in the Big East are a battle night in and night out, but X will be the first true test of the conference games. After the first two home games comes a trip to Chicago to play Depaul, a place where the friars have struggled mightily as of late (ugh). After Depaul comes two home games against Butler on Martin Luther King Day at 4:30 and Creighton again on the 20th.

This next set of games is by far the toughest test. The end of January brings @ Villanova and @Seton Hall, Nova of whom should once again be the clear cut favorite to win the league until somebody knocks them off and Seton Hall who will be looking to continue its success from a year ago with all-American candidate Angel Delgado. Following those two road tests is another challenge @ Marquette, yet another tough place to play.

After that stretch, they luckily get to settle down with two games against the basement of the league. A home matchup against Patrick Ewing led Georgetown followed by Depaul. These should hopefully be two W’s. Following the basement of the league, Providence gets thrown right into a heavy weight battle with a home date with Villanova. I can promise you the Dunkin Donuts center will be sold out and absolutely rocking for this one on Valentines Day. Would it be crazy of me to think that this game could have implications on the regular season title? Possibly, but do I think it will, yes.

After Villanova is a game @ the famous Hinkle Field house with Butler on February 17th. Home vs Seton hall, another game that will likely have tournament implications takes place at the Dunk on February 21st. To close out February, the Friars take road trips to Georgetown and Xavier. Providence ends its conference schedule with who it starts off with, in a home game vs Saint Johns on March 3rd.

Overall, I see Providence fairing pretty well for themselves this season. Other than that one rough patch of away games to end January I believe they were given a pretty fair schedule. They definitely have an easy two game stretch in early February that they need to capitalize on with the likes of Depaul and Georgetown. Personally, I think anything less than 4th in the Big East would be a major let down.

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2018 Tip-off classic at Mohegan Sun

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2018 Tip-off classic at Mohegan Sun For Providence Friars

Reported by Jon Rothstein, Providence is rumored to be in a field of teams that includes Michigan, South Carolina and George Washington at the 2018 Hall of fame tip off tournament at Mohegan Sun.

This is great news for the Friars as that is some great competition for their Out Of Conference schedule next season.

The Hall of Fame tournament is one that Providence is very familiar with, taking the crown in 2014 after defeating Florida State and then Notre Dame in the championship game. This should also be familiar territory for returning players in the 2018-2019 campaign, after they take on Houston at Mohegan this coming season.

 

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CBB: Off-season check in, polls, exhibitions and recruiting

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RI CBB

RI CBB: Off-season check in, polls, exhibitions and recruiting

Off-season polls are, well, exactly what they are. Take it for what it’s worth but both Providence (26th) and URI (25th)  cracked CBS Sports latest Top 25 (and 1) rankings this past week. Seeing the Friars get any off-season love whatsoever is always a surprise. The University of Rhode Island is the clear favorite to take the A-10 this season and will look to make its second straight tournament appearance.

Providence announced this week that there will be not one, but two pre-season exhibitions at the Dunkin Donuts Center this season. The two games will take place on October 28th against Carleton a team from Canada in which the Friars played last season. The Friars struggled in the first half but ultimately ran away with the game in the second. The other will be played on November 4th against Baruch College, a division III school from New York. Baruch played Saint John’s in a pre season game last year and lost by 50.

Something tells me the school tried to accommodate fans with a second scrimmage to make up for the one less regular season game at the Dunk, due to their first game of the season being played at Alumni Hall.  It has also been rumored that the fan-favorite ‘Mal Brown’ Scrimmage will be taking place this season after going the previous few years without one. An in house scrimmage would be the perfect way for fans to see what the freshman will be bringing to the table along with what veterans have improved since that sour tasting loss to USC took place in March.

Image result for Mal brown scrimmage

Looking Ahead to 2018

Rivals recently released their team rankings for the class of 2018 and Providence was slotted at number 20. With five seniors on the current roster, the class of ’18 will undoubtedly be one of Cooley’s most crucial classes to date. Two players have already signed on to play with the friars for next season. A.J Reeves, a 6’5 shooting guard chose Providence over Louisville, Virginia and Villanova. Reeves is ranked 42nd in the class of ’18. Kris Monroe, who verbally committed to Providence over Boston College and NC state is a 6’7 small forward and is known as a shooter.

This leaves 3 open spots for the class of ’18. Cooley got good news from now top target and Providence native David Duke who cut his list down to five schools. Villanova, Indiana, Florida, Virginia Tech and Providence are the last schools he will be considering before making his decision. Duke is ranked in the top 50 and would be a huge get. They say don’t put the cart before the horse, but a back court of Makai Ashton-Langford, A.J Reeves and David Duke would bring greatness to Friar town.

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