The remains for the Friars do include two returning starters. Power forward Bilal Dixon started 30 of PC’s 31 games during his freshman season (after taking a redshirt the previous year), and was effective, averaging about nine points and eight rebounds a night, numbers which should improve in his second season. Dixon is also a strong interior presence on defense, as he blocked about two shots a game for the Friars. Guard Marshon Brooks also returns after having started 25 games last season. He is a wispy left-hander, capable of scoring from the perimeter or slipping into the lane and scoring in a variety of ways. He’ll likely be the go-to scorer for the Friars. Sophomore Vincent Council got a handful of starts in his first season and is now the only experienced point guard on the Providence roster, so he’ll clearly be counted on for a ton of minutes. Already expected to be the main man replacing departed point Sharaud Curry, the departure of Lacy merely cements Council’s stranglehold on the position. He is a penetrating point with acrobatic finishing ability and a penchant for finding open teammates for easy looks and the Friar offense is in very competent hands with him in charge.
While Dixon, Brooks and Council form a nice nucleus for the Friars, the problem is going to be rounding out the rest of the roster. Probably the most intriguing talent on the rest of the team is incoming off-guard Gerard Coleman, a smooth and lanky lefty that is perhaps a newer version of Brooks with more upside, impossibly skinny, terrific in the open court, improving perimeter game and a very strong and disruptive defender. He’ll be called on for plenty of minutes, and may need to start as a third guard, just to get the best five on the court for the Friars.
The fifth starting spot is wide open, and will likely go to one of a number of bigs. Hall could possibly snatch up the starting center spot (bumping Dixon to his more natural four spot), but if there is any hopes of a successful season for the Friars, coach Davis has got to hope that someone else wins the spot. Candidates include 6-7 redshirt freshman Kadeem Batts and three incoming freshmen: 6-8 Brice Kofane, 6-5 Ron Giplaye and 6-9 Alex Gavrilovic. Batts, Kofane and Giplaye are all strong rebounders and defenders who are varying degrees of raw offensively, but Gavrilovic is an intriguing prospect. A native of France, he possesses the skilled offensive game of the stereotypical European big man, but has a mean streak to pair with it. While he may be a year or so away from really being able to play in the Big East, it would be a nice surprise to see him step up and earn significant minutes.
Depth in the backcourt will be provided by two players: 6-4 sophomore shooting guard Duke Mondy and 5-10 freshman point guard Dre Evans. Evans was the last signee of this year’s six-man recruiting class and is a tiny scoring point who is at his best in transition. Mondy, one of Davis’ seven-man recruiting class from last year (of which it is likely that just three players will suit up for the Friars in 2010-11) is an active and energetic defender with good three-point range.
Technically, Young and Still are still on the squad and will be available for the Friars, but the odds of either one of them seeing any action, even in practice, in 2010-11 are exceedingly slim. If Young does somehow wind up with the team, however, he would be a definite asset. He is primarily a three-point bomber with in-the-gym range, but is skilled enough to get in the paint and score, a useful tool for any team, but even more so for a team like this that is a little undertalented. If Still is exonerated from his felony assault charge and avoids expulsion, he will be in the mix with the bigs for either a starting spot or a role off the bench.
As Davis enters his third season in Providence, the natives are getting restless. After leading his team to a winning record and an NIT berth in his first season, last season and the offseason has been an unmitigated disaster. Hopefully Friar fans are patient, however, because Davis is a very capable coach and an excellent recruiter, and frankly the PC job is not an easy one. There is probably not enough talent on this current Friar squad to compete for an NCAA tournament berth, but if Davis and his staff can settle Tharpe concerns over the make-up of the program, a backcourt of Council, Coleman and Tharpe in 2011 is a pretty exciting prospect. Better days are coming for the Providence program, even if those days are hard to foresee from this current trough.