Welcome back to another edition of Bulls Recon! Today we have Dave from the great PC site Friar Blog coming in to talk Friar hoops. In today's edition, we talk about Ed Cooley's first year at Providence, his excellent recruiting class, and of course Big East expansion.
1. How has Coach Cooley's first year at Providence gone? Pretty much what you expected this year?
The Friars only lost two out of conference games, largely due to an easy schedule. However, it was completely necessary given the thin roster from a few players from last year leaving, back up point guard Kiwi Gardner being ruled ineligible for the entire year, and Kadeem Batts being suspended for the 1st semester for academic reasons. In BIG EAST play, everything has gone pretty much as expected. Well, except for blowing out Louisville by 30+ points. Cooley is setting the foundation of the team this year, and you can clearly see a change in effort. The first half of their BIG EAST schedule has been brutal so I wasn't expecting too many wins. How they bounce back and finish the year off is what I'm interested in seeing.
2. For those who haven't seen PC this year, can you give us a brief breakdown of what Cooley likes to run on offense and defense?
On offense, Ed Cooley has gotten the Friars to ease up on the three point attempt train in a big way. Unlike Keno's teams, there is a little more discipline. Their best chance at success is getting Council, Coleman, and Cotton involved in transition. There aren't a lot of good shooters on the team, so they need to get buckets in the easiest way possible. Defense? Yeah that's still a problem that isn't going away overnight. They will try some zone, man, really anything that will work at that given time. The three-point ball has really murdered them in most BIG EAST games, so I think they'll be able to be somewhat successful overall against South Florida.
3. Tell us about the pretty amazing recruiting class Coach Cooley is bringing in.
Cooley's recruiting class makes all the losses piling up that much easier to swallow. Kris Dunn of Connecticut is one of the top point guards of the 2012 class. He has tremendous size, speed, and vision. Playing along side Vincent Council should give the Friars an incredible combination in the back court. Providence native Ricardo Ledo is a great scorer who can can produce from pretty much anywhere on the court. Assuming he is eligible next year (he needs to get a waiver because it will take him more than 8 semesters to finish high school), the Friars will get an instant impact player offensively. With some sholarships opening up, Ed Cooley is not done trying to finalize the class (which also includes shooter Josh Fortune). PC is involved with some of the best bigs available, including Chris Obekpa, JaKarr Sampson, and JUCO Orlando Sanchez. Landing any of those would cause mass hysteria in Friartown, since the incoming class is Top-10 already.
4. Vincent Council is having a pretty special season. How is he handling being the main option now that MarShon Brooks is in the NBA?
Vincent Council struggled a little big at the start of BIG EAST play, but he's really turned it on of late showing he is one of the best point guards in the conference. As the only point guard on the team, he is always out on the court, and the ball is always in his hands. It must be pretty draining, but he's handling it well. He sets the pace for the offense, and is also asked to shoulder a lot of the scoring for lack of other options. While he is prone to some off shooting nights, Council's vision is top notch. I can't imagine the assist totals he would rack up (he's 4th in the country at 7.15) if his teammates could catch his passes and finish at the rim!
5. New Big East teams. Your thoughts?
I'm not terribly excited about the new BIG EAST teams, but as long as it helps keep the conference afloat (and the BIG EAST Tournament), I'm game.
6. Finally, how do you see this one ending?
I think it's going to be a close one, but Council will help make plays at key moments to help the Friars pull off a 63-60 road win.
Thanks again to Dave for pulling through on such short notice. Make sure you head on over to Friar Blog to read up on the Friars.