After taking a few days to digest/recover from my trip to the 2k Classic the Crier is ready to provide you his impressions from the two day tournament. The Crier made his grand return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Friars won the Big East Tournament back in 2014. After being escorted out of MSG for a Big East Championship merch misunderstanding I thought there would be signs hanging up listing me as banned from the arena. Luckily for the Crier this was not the case and I was able to enjoy the tournament at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The first game on Thursday the arena was pretty empty (MSG employee told me they only sold 3,500 tickets for Thursday), the game didn’t tip until 9:50pm and the only UW fans there were in the band. The arena was so empty that I decided to stream the Celtics Warriors game on my phone during play. It seemed like the Friar players were doing the same because the Friars were very sloppy in a 7-point win over the Huskies. The game on Friday was the exact opposite of the first game. The arena was much more lively and the Friars put on a show for their fans in a 90-63 drubbing of the St. Louis Billikens. Here are my takeaways.
Tonight the Providence Friars return to the Dunkin Donuts Center for the first time this season to play the #14 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games. The game will tip off at 6:30pn and will be televised on FS1 with Tim Brando and Bill Raftery on the call. Both teams come into the contest coming off wins in their opener, as PC beat Houston Baptist 84-55 and Minnesota edging SC Upstate 92-77. The Golden Gophers are 1-0 in the Gavitt Games and the Friars are 1-1 in the event. This game is a matchup of two very similar teams. The Gophers and the Friars both used late season surges to make the NCAA tournament and both found themselves bounced after one game. These two squads return a lot of what they had last season and add a ESPN Top-100 PG (Makai Ashton-Langford for PC and Isaiah Washington for Minnesota). It expect this to be a very close and exciting concepts so let’s get right to my keys to the game for the Friars.
Contain Minny’s Bigs:
I’m sure one of the main focus points for Ed Cooley and staff is what the Friars are going to do with Minnesota up front. With the injury to Emmitt Holt the Gophers have the clear cut edge down low. The Gophers are led down low by junior Jordan Murphy and senior Reggie Lynch. The duo combined for 50 points and 25 rebounds in their opening win. At 6′ 10″ 260 pounds Reggie Lynch is an absolute monster who will steal your lunch money if you take the ball to the rack, as he averaged an absurd 4 blocks per game last season. I’d expect Cooley to sub in sophomore Kalif Young (if he doesn’t start) and freshman Dajour Dickens early in often to throw multiple looks at the Gophers big men. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kalif Young fouls out of this game and hell I may encourage it. Alpha Diallo and Jalen Lindsey are going to have to provide help defense and rebounding off the wing in order for the Friars to not get destroyed on the glass.
What Nate Mason Will We See?:
While the Gophers do have a lot up front their leading scorer from last year was actually in the backcourt, with guard Nate Mason. Mason led the Gophers with 15.2 ppg last season and is much more of a scoring guard then Providence’s Kyron Cartwright. I have watched Mason for a while now in much thanks due to the fact I used to play college basketball games on Draft Kings before the NCAA put the kibosh on that thing. Nate Mason can really score the ball but he’s a volume shooter who is extremely streaky and it costs his team. In 10 losses for Minnesota last year Mason shot just above 33% (50/148) from the floor including a putrid 27% from 3 (11/41). This is a guy who averaged over 13 shots per game last season, so if he’s going to shoot it at that clip the Gophers won’t leave the Dunk with a win. Shooting 3/10 may be good enough to beat SC Upstate but it won’t cut it vs the Friars. I am really intrigued to see the play of both teams’ lead guards Nate Mason and Kyron Cartwright.
While Minnesota has the edge in the front court I think the Friars have a huge advantage in the depth department. Minnesota played 9 guys in their opener but realistically this is a 6 man rotation with their 5 starters and the freshman guard Washington. The Friars played 12 guys in their opener and I expect them to feature a 10 man rotation tonight. My friends and I were joking that the Friars have platoons this year just like the Kentucky Wildcat team of a few years back. While platoons may be a stretch the Friars do have a ton of guys that can play and look for Ed Cooley to try and use that to tire out the Gophers. The Friars are going to need contributions from their bench in order to come out with the victory.
The season may have started last Friday night but tonight really feels like it’s for real. The Friars will get a real threat early in the season against a Minnesota team that I believe poses a lot of problems for PC. I think this game will be tightly contested throughout and may not be decided until late in the game clock. Tonight will mark the first time the Friars have hosted a top 25 non-conference opponent to the Dunk since 11/22/06 and I’m sure crowd will be ready. I think at the end of the day it’s a big ask for the Gophers to come in on a true road game this early in the season and I think the Friars depth will ultimately catch up to the Gophers.
Friars 71 Gophers 68
Enoy the Game and GO FRIARS!
It has been 240 days since the Providence Friars season ended in depressing fashion, blowing a 15-point halftime lead to USC of the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. It has been a long and eventful offseason for college basketball fans but the wait is almost over. Tonight the college basketball season will officially begin and the Providence Crier couldn’t be more excited. I have decided to compile a list of the Top 20 Things the Crier is Looking Forward to this Year (Disclaimer: the list will consist of Friar topics and NCAA topics). The plan was to release this list with twenty days to go before the season started but the Crier isn’t known for his punctuality. Without further ado I bring to you the Top 20 Things The Crier Is Looking Forward To This Season!
The Providence Friars finally got back on the court tonight in an exhibition vs the UConn Huskies at Mohegan Sun. The game, which was organized about a week ago, had all ticket proceeds go to the Red Cross for hurricane victims. For much of the contest the Friars were in control en route to a 90-76 victory. While I don’t want to put too much stock into an exhibition game I thought I’d share a few takeaways from the action.
- Cartwright Saving His Best for Last– While he didn’t log a ton of minutes I was really impressed from what I saw from Cartwright. The Big East’s Most Improved Player from a year ago has seemed to improve his finishing ability at the basket and his three point stroke this offseason. He also appears to have added muscle this offseason, which probably helps his finishing ability. Expect a big senior season from PC’s lead guard.
One of the most anticipated recruiting storylines in the Ed Cooley era finally ended today and Friartown couldn’t be more excited. Rivals Top-40 guard and Providence native David Duke Jr announced his intentions to commit to the Friars on social media. Duke chose the Friars over Virginia Tech and he adds to a class that’s shaping up to be one of the best in the country for Ed Cooley and company. David Duke headlines the class with fellow Mass Rivals teammate and Rivals Top-50 recruit AJ Reeves. The 2018 class also features two forwards who could end up being diamonds in the rough in Khris Monroe and Jimmy Nichols. Today marks the culmination of a lot of hard work from the staff who offered Duke back in May of 2016. Duke’s recruitment had been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions for Friar fans who saw Kansas offer him in February and saw him cancel his Villanova visit to visit PC instead just last week. While a lot of major programs were involved with Duke at one point or another it came down to PC and Virignia Tech and the Hokies definitely gave it their best effort. They had Duke on campus for their much anticipated football game against the reigning national champion Clemson Tigers and on the visit Duke met Michael Vick and Dell Curry. Current Virginia Tech freshman and one of Duke’s best friends Wabissa Bede was recruiting Duke hard. In the end his relationships with Ed Cooley and Mass Rivals teammate AJ Reeves along with the ability to play for his hometown was too much to pass up.
Duke will bring the Friars an athletically explosive guard, whose defensive ability should translate as soon as he steps on campus. Duke handles the basketball well and has the ability to get to the rim but his offense as a whole will need to improve once he gets here. Duke also needs to develop his abilities as a lead guard and floor general, which shouldn’t be a problem playing for Ed Cooley. Cooley was able to turn Bryce Cotton from a scoring two guard to a more than adequate point guard. The way Cooley develops guards definitely had to be a factor in terms of Duke picking the Friars.
The commitment of David Duke is a big moment for the program, as he solidifies another monster class for the Friars. I firmly believe that the Friars have now opened a window where they can legitimately contend for a national championship. You heard the Crier correctly a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. This 2018 Class is already the best class Cooley has assembled since landing Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo back in 2012. The thing is when those two came to PC the foundation had yet to be laid for the program. Couple that with the fact Ledo never saw the floor for the Friars and that class ended up only taking PC so far. The culture that Ed Cooley intended on creating when taking the PC job is now here and the fact this highly regarded class gets to come in with the culture in place can take the program to that next level. While this current team has a lot of seniors it also features a lot of young talent as well. You have highly regarded guard in Makai Ashton-Langford coming in with two promising bigs this year. You also have Alpha Diallo, who showed a ton of promise as a scoring wing in his freshman year. Maliek White, Kalif Young and Drew Edwards will also be in the program when this 2018 class takes the court, so this will create an opportunity for the Friars to contend for a national title in two or three seasons. What Cooley is doing reminds me a lot of what UCONN did during their two titles in four year run. UConn had Kemba Walker and Shabbaz Napier and then Shabbaz Napier and Ryan Boatwright, as two lead guards leading them to titles. For Friar fans that is the hope with Ashton-Langford and David Duke, along with the other pieces Cooley is putting around them.
This weekend is a time for Friar fans to celebrate. It was actually the Crier’s birthday yesterday and the commitment of Duke is a great belated gift (Today is actually David Duke’s birthday, so HBD David). Cooley just landed Friartown a top-10 recruiting class and tomorrow will be Late Night Madness, celebrating this year’s team that has a lot of promise. So here’s to great times ahead for the Providence College basketball program.
ESPN Top 100 and Providence native David Duke announced on Twitter tonight that he will be making his college choice this Friday and will choose between Virigina Tech and the Friars. Duke visited Friartown this past weekend after canceling his visit to Villanova. The star guard visiting Virginia Tech the weekend of September 30th and went to the Clemson vs Virginia Tech football game, a game the Hokies lost 31-17. On the visit Duke met Virginia Tech alumni Michael Vick and Dell Curry.
Prediction: If you asked me this question 3 weeks ago I would say the Friars with a lot of confidence, that has since changed. Duke definitely appeared to enjoy his visit and Tech can offer some things, such as major college football, that the Friars can’t. I am also sure that former Mass Rivals teammate and current Hokie Wabissa Bede is selling Duke hard on Tech. So there are definitely factors that could sway him to Blacksburg but Im going to stick with the Friars. His friendship with AJ Reeves, the ability to play for a coach and person such as Ed Cooley and to play for his hometown has to put Friars over the top. So I will say he commits to PC but will be cautiously optimistic.
Whatever school Duke chooses the Providence Crier will definitely share his thoughts, so be on the look out for my take come Friday.
Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal reported today that Friar senior forward Emmitt Holt is expected to miss an unknown amount of time due to an abdominal injury. He reportedly hasn’t been on campus and has missed almost all of the team’s workouts this September while dealing with the injury. Ed Cooley said the following regarding the injury, “We are monitoring Emmitt’s progress and we expect him to make a full recovery, Emmitt is one of our team’s most consistent and experienced players, but more importantly, he is an outstanding person. We look forward to his return.” It appears that Holt’s availability for the start of the season, which starts Nov 10th against Houston Baptist, could be in jeopardy.
Given the way schedule starts for the Friars and the fact Holt is one of the top players on the team, this injury has come up in an inopportune time. The Friars start their season against Houston Baptist but then three days later will host the University of Minnesota, as apart of the Gavitt Games. Three days after that the Friars will go to New York City for a four team tournament that features Washington, Saint Louis and Virginia Tech. In Holt the Friars will be missing not only a productive player, as he was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg respectively, but an emotional leader for the team. Kyron Cartwright and Emmitt Holt are the two guys that most give the Friars their toughness, attitude and a mean streak if you will. Obviously the most important thing is Holt’s health and an abdominal injury doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but this certainly a blow to the team early on. The silver lining in all of this we will get to see what some of the young guys like Khalif Young, Nate Watson and Dejour Dickens can bring to the frontcourt.
The Providence College Athletics twitter page announced the emcee and performer for this year’s Late Night Madness this evening. Late Night Madness will be on October 14th from Mullaney Gym at Alumni Hall and will be emceed by PC’s own Doris Burke. Doris made headlines earlier in the week when ESPN named her the first woman to be a full-time game analyst for their NBA broadcasts. This is her second consecutive appearance at Late Night Madness and she has never been shy to show her Friar pride. The musical performer for this year’s event will be Lil Uzi Vert, whose hit song XO Tour Llif3 has over 431 million plays on Spotify. PC continues to land big names to come to their Late Night Madness event and its just a testament to the program that Coach Ed Cooley has built.
The sports marketing company Intersport announced today that they will be hosting a 3-on-3 college basketball tournament during the Final Four. The teams have to consist of seniors who’ve exhausted their NCAA eligibility and the teams will be made up by conferences. The winning team, which will consist of four players, would win a $100,000 prize. The Big East team would definitely be one of the better teams in this year’s tournament, as the conference is loaded with seniors. If I was choosing the Big East team I would pick the following four players.
Kyron Cartwright– G, Providence
Trevon Bluiett– F, Xavier
Angel Delgado– F, Seton Hall
Khadeem Carrington– G, Seton Hall
You could also make the argument for having Marcus Foster of Creighton, Desi Rodriguez of Seton Hall and Rodney Bullock of Providence on your team. The Big East also has seniors JP Macura and Sean O’Mara of Xavier, Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman of Butler, Jalen Lindsey and Emmitt Holt of Providence and Andrew Rowsey of Marquette. The Friars could field a competitive team of their own with Cartwright, Lindsey, Bullock, and Holt. I personally love this idea because it’s taking advantage of the increasing popularity of 3-on-3 basketball and it’s a way to allow student athletes to make some sort of compensation while they are still in school. It also gives college basketball another event to look forward to leading up to the Final Four.
Ed Cooley continues to build his 2018 recruiting class with the commitment of Kris Monroe from Raleigh, NC. Monroe is a 6-7 forward who plays for St. David School in Raleigh and Team Wall on the AAU circuit. Monroe held offers from NC State, BC, and URI before making the pledge to the Friars this evening. Kris Monroe becomes Ed Cooley’s second commitment for the 2018 class, with the first being AJ Reeves back in June.