Coach: Keno Davis (19-14 at Providence, 47-19 overall)
Providence did pretty well under first year head coach Keno Davis. The Friars ended up in the NIT, but there is a lot of work to be done this year now that most of the roster has graduated. Coach Davis did a fine job when he had an experienced roster to work with, but this year will be different. However, this group certainly does not lack in talent, they just lack in experience.
Key Losses: G Weyinmi Efejuku, F Randall Hanke, C Jonathan Kale, F Geoff McDermott, G Jeff Xavier
It is on the perimeter where Providence does return some key players. Point guard Sharaud Curry was the leader of the team last year and his leadership will be even more important with all the youngsters surrounding him. Curry tallied 11.7 points and 4.2 assists per game as a junior last season and his scoring output will have to increase this year. Brian McKenzie and Marshon Brooks will likely join him in the starting lineup, at least early in the year. McKenzie can be a good shooter, but he struggled in that department in 2008-2009. If his shot does not return, he could find himself coming in off the bench. Brooks was last year’s super sub who averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 rebounds despite not starting a single game.
Jamine Peterson and Bilal Dixon both sat out last year, but they are the closest thing this team has to a returning frontcourt. Peterson is a good athlete who averaged 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds two years ago before redshirting last year. His experience at Providence, and the fact that he is a good player who can score in bunches, should give him an early leg up in the battle for a starting job in the frontcourt. Dixon, a 6-8, 228 pound redshirt freshman, will have to fight it out with the newcomers for playing time, but in this group, he is almost an experienced option who will be asked to contribute right away.
Who’s In for Providence:
The Friars have seven newcomers and that is not counting two players who did not play last season. Wing Kyle Wright and power forward Russ Permenter will likely be the two most important players this season due to their experience at the junior college level. Yet, players like guards Johnnie Lacy and Vincent Council and forwards Kadeem Batts and James Still will be given every opportunity to contribute right away.
The newcomers will be the difference between another trip to the postseason or a campaign that ends in disappointment. The Friars will need Permenter to stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper and block a few shots. They will need Wright to hit some three-pointers whether he starts or not. They will need Batts and Still to play solid defense under the basket. They will need Council to fill in some minutes backing up Curry and they will need Lacy to provide a spark off the bench.
Final 2009-2010 Providence Projection:
That is asking a lot from a bunch of unproven players in a very tough conference. But that may just be the best case scenario. Coach Davis will figure out what his newcomers can and cannot do and as long as there are seven or eight players who can contribute day in and day out and play their role on this team, Providence will be playing meaningful games in March.