2018-19 Providence College Hoops: The Kids Are Alright

CouchsideSteve

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Villanova visits a sold-out Dunk for a 2pm tip-off that will be aired on Fox. Friars are a 2.5pt underdog and need a win to keep faint tournament hopes alive. In recent years, Cooley’s teams have bounced-back from bad losses to steal games they weren’t expected to — does this young roster have it in them?

Nate Watson needs to step up today. Nova will be challenged to guard him inside if PC can slowdown the pace.
 

Deathofthebambino

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I just got in (had to take my 8 year old daughter to basketball, which is always, umm, enjoyable). Turned it on with about 7 minutes to go, and PC is trying to mount a charge.

Has the entire game been officiated like this? No flow at all, officials calling fouls every 15 seconds or so. 'Nova is leaving the door open though, with 5 turnovers in the last couple minutes. If PC can just start hitting some shots, they could pull this off.

Edit: Or make their damn free throws. My God, they are 11/23 from the line. That's deplorable for any D1 school, shit, that's deplorable for a high school.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Well, PC on a 13-0 run since I turned it on. Ashton-Langford with a 3 to cut it to 7 with 2:24 left. Buckle up.
 

scottyno

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MAL thought they were down 2 or 3??? Only possible explanation I can think of
 

CouchsideSteve

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It’s too bad, because MAL had a great game. But he is not the instinctual PG that Cooley’s flex offense has thrived with from Council to Cotton to Dunn to Cartwright.

Make no mistake, Nova left that game for the taking. And the Friars declined.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Uggh, not a very good ending, but really, they just dug themselves way, way too deep of a hole.

And the fucking free throw problem needs to be fixed. That's inexcusable. If they shoot 70% from the line, they probably win.
 

scottyno

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MAL fouls a three point shooter taking a wild shot up 4 with 15 seconds to go. Is he trying to top the Villanova blunder?
and then he gives up a wide open look for 3 when everyone in the building knew they had to take a 3

and again they could have fouled and didn't
 

CouchsideSteve

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I hate criticizing Cooley, because he is the absolute best coach this program could ever want, but... yikes. The mistake of not fouling twice with a three point lead, compounded by refusing to sub in fresh legs at the end and having the last two meaningful possessions of the second OT not resulting in viable shot attempts? Brutal.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Friars finally picked up a conference win over Seton Hall Tuesday night. The Big East is truly a jumble beneath Nova (with even DePaul now stealing road games), and the Friars can make it even more so by picking off Marquette today in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are only 5.5pt favorites, with presumptive Big East PoTY Markus Howard questionable to suit up.

The Friars need to score 75 points today, minimum —which is easier said than done for a team dead last by a mile in Offensive Efficiency and eFG % so far in conference play, per KenPom.
 

CouchsideSteve

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I haven’t contributed much to the thread over the past month, because frankly there isn’t all that much to parse. The Friars are 4-7 in Big East play after upsetting St. John’s at MSG on Saturday. The story is simple: It’s a young team with talented players, who collectively at present time, cannot shoot. It’s really that simple.

Per KenPom, Providence is last in the conference in eFG% at 43.7 — a country mile behind next-to-last Xavier, who is at 49.5 (!). It’s only by the grace of strong defense (1st in conference in defensive efficiency, also per KenPom) and a high offensive rebounding rate that the team is even competitive.

Looking at individual development, it has been encouraging to see Reeves back healthy (though still shaking off some rust) and both Duke and MAL playing with confidence. There is real potential here for next season, but Cooley needs to bring in a graduate transfer who can shoot to play on the wing — you just can’t expect this group to develop from horrendous to passable with one offseason of development.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I haven’t contributed much to the thread over the past month, because frankly there isn’t all that much to parse. The Friars are 4-7 in Big East play after upsetting St. John’s at MSG on Saturday. The story is simple: It’s a young team with talented players, who collectively at present time, cannot shoot. It’s really that simple.

Per KenPom, Providence is last in the conference in eFG% at 43.7 — a country mile behind next-to-last Xavier, who is at 49.5 (!). It’s only by the grace of strong defense (1st in conference in defensive efficiency, also per KenPom) and a high offensive rebounding rate that the team is even competitive.

Looking at individual development, it has been encouraging to see Reeves back healthy (though still shaking off some rust) and both Duke and MAL playing with confidence. There is real potential here for next season, but Cooley needs to bring in a graduate transfer who can shoot to play on the wing — you just can’t expect this group to develop from horrendous to passable with one offseason of development.
I don't expect MAL to be here next year with the addition of Gantt, who should help with his shooting ability, and you have to account for a big chunk of our shooting problems this year occurring when Reeves was out. I have no idea what his motivations are but fingers crossed that he doesn't jump ship to get a small 2nd round guarantee ala Ledo as this is still a risk unless anyone has info on his intentions.
 

CouchsideSteve

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I don't expect MAL to be here next year with the addition of Gantt, who should help with his shooting ability, and you have to account for a big chunk of our shooting problems this year occurring when Reeves was out.
I actually do think MAL will be back, given the minutes he is now earning and Cooley’s willingness/preference to play Duke off ball. That said, MAL’s dad has been a vocal critic on Twitter and he has obviously had his ups and downs over two seasons, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he did transfer. Seems unlikely that all three of MAL, White and Edwards will return, given this year’s uneven backcourt rotation with no one graduating.

It will be interesting to see how the team plays over this three game home stand, beginning with Xavier this afternoon. Cooley’s teams have played their best basketball the last few years in February, with their backs against the wall. But this year, arguably, they’re past the point of return for a sixth straight NCAA bid. Earning the #6 seed in the conference tournament and thereby avoiding the Wed night play-in (not to mention Nova’s side of the bracket) seems like the achievable best-case. I’ll still be watching every game with interest, given the wealth of young talent.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Last Saturday’s home loss to Xavier featured one of the worst halves of basketball played under Cooley to date. Listless and sloppy, extinguishing any faint hopes of making a late tournament run. That said, it was nice to see the kids bounce back and deliver a second beatdown to a talented but poorly coached St. John’s team on Wed.

Nate Watson is flourishing, and I really like the way Duke is playing. If they can get Reeves back on track over these next 5 games — plus whatever opportunity exists at MSG and in the NIT — we should feel really good heading into next season. Nice opportunity for a confidence-building win today with #11 Marquette visiting the Dunk. It’s alumni weekend, so the place will be sold out and loud.
 

Mloaf71

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Did you guys all give up? Great showing by the boys tonight, all be it against a terrible Butler team. Cooley and the guys seem to always have a swagger at the MSG...can they finally get over the Nova hump tomorrow? PC is 0-3 vs Nova and 8-1 against everyone else in the New Big East Tournament.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Diallo applying for draft. New rules making it a bit easier to return to school.
The language in Diallo's release, along with the likelihood that he isn't drafted or even invited to the Combine, lead me to believe that he's as close to 100% to return for his senior year as possible. I really don't understand how UMass grad ransfer Luwane Pipkins is going to fit in with Duke and Reeves not to mention Diallo. Is there a new rule about allowing the offense to use two balls on the court?
 

Mloaf71

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This PC team couldn’t score last year. Added a scorer shouldn’t necessitate a second ball, just that Cooley ensures the right guys take shots and not pull a Stevens and let someone act like Marcus Morris all season.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Quick note on Diallo before posting a season recap that I started last week and am just getting around to finishing. Blinky & HRB are right on: Diallo has declared for the draft because the new rules allow him to do so and potentially get feedback from NBA teams while retaining his eligibility. It's a great thing for the players. Diallo has had a very good first three years at PC, but I don't see him as a threat to leave, and I actually think he needs to take a quantum leap forward as a shooter to be on the draft radar even next spring. So, that being said...

***
I guess it's long overdue to write the requiem for 2018-19 season. It can be summed up in a single word: Disappointing. A team picked to finish 3rd in the conference pre-season, coached by a guy who nearly always exceeds expectations, fell to 8th and was uncompetitive in several games for the first time in a long time.

The issue was not a riddle: The team's offense was horrendous, finishing 290th in the nation in eFG% (full-season) and last in the Big East (conference play) by a mile. Collectively, they couldn't make shots, despite an enviable amount of length and athleticism.

Player development within the young roster can be categorized into three buckets: Nominal growth (Watson, Diallo, Young); flashes of brilliance overshadowed by inconsistency -- particularly the Freshman (Reeves, Duke, Nichols & Edwards); or simple regression (Jackson, White & Ashton-Langford). Emmitt Holt was ultimately not healthy enough to contribute, and we didn't see enough from Kris Monroe to evaluate.

Ashton-Langford is transferring, as HRB predicted (I was wrong). It's hard to imagine a top 50 national recruit -- who was otherwise, by all accounts, a model citizen off the court -- producing less in his first two years at a school like Providence. That's not on Cooley; the consensus evaluation was way off, and he will likely finish his collegiate career at a mid-major. Edwards is also transferring for his final season, which is a bit sad. He played a key role in the only NCAA tournament win in the program's recent memory, and I'm not sure why Cooley couldn't find more consistent minutes for him. Decent shooter on a team of bad shooters.

The Friars did secure the commitment of grad transfer Luwane Pipkins from UMass, who should stabilize the PG position and help the team's offense, though I am curious to see how one of the nation's highest utilization shooters will integrate as a third scoring option (presumably after Reeves, Diallo). Cooley has also been linked to conventional transfers who would sit next season to play in '20-21. That makes plenty of sense when you consider the current roster imbalance of scholarship players: Four rising Seniors (Diallo, White, Young & Pipkins), not counting Holt; just one rising Junior from the heralded 2017 class (Watson); Four rising Sophomores (Reeves, Duke, Nichols & Monroe); and one incoming Freshman in athletic wing Greg Gantt. So there are at least two scholarships to fill, assuming they leave Holt's open pending his appeal for a sixth season of eligibility (which history says is unlikely even with the optimism Cooley has expressed publicly). If you assume a recruit of Gantt's pedigree/skill needs to play in Year 1, it makes sense for one if not both of those incoming scholarship players to redshirt.

April, and now increasingly May, is a time of roster transition, as we just saw with the surprise transfer of the Hauser brothers from Marquette, knocking the presumptive '19-20 Big East favorites down a couple of pegs. There will yet be other additions and departures impacting the conference and PC's fortunes in it, whether directly or indirectly. The thing that slightly concerns me, however, is a roster projected third in the conference last fall is likely to be picked somewhere between fifth and seventh heading into next season, without graduating a single starter. Think about it: The Friars are clearly behind Nova, Creighton and Seton Hall who are in most early top-25s; likely still behind Marquette and Georgetown; though clearly ahead of DePaul, St. John's, and I would argue, Butler. Again, a lot can and will change, but for all of the optimism we rightly felt 8 months ago, this is not a team expected to compete for a Big East title next season.
 

HomeRunBaker

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This PC team couldn’t score last year. Added a scorer shouldn’t necessitate a second ball, just that Cooley ensures the right guys take shots and not pull a Stevens and let someone act like Marcus Morris all season.
The Friars did secure the commitment of grad transfer Luwane Pipkins from UMass, who should stabilize the PG position and help the team's offense, though I am curious to see how one of the nation's highest utilization shooters will integrate as a third scoring option (presumably after Reeves, Diallo).
Pipkins isn't the type of scorer who is an easy fit which is my concern. He's a ball dominant PG on a team with a traditional PG who is a prime candidate to make the leap in his second season, the return of Reeves to 100% as he was a shell of himself upon returning from injury sans the Butler game and presumably Diallo, our leading scorer and highest Usage offensive player. There is a ton of redundancy on this roster of face-up guards/wings who thrive with the ball in isolation......this has all the makings of being a problem. You also want to integrate a high profile freshman wing (yes, another one) in Gantt or run the risk of losing him to transfer.

I'm concerned about this upcoming season.
 

CouchsideSteve

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Pipkins isn't the type of scorer who is an easy fit which is my concern. He's a ball dominant PG on a team with a traditional PG who is a prime candidate to make the leap in his second season, the return of Reeves to 100% as he was a shell of himself upon returning from injury sans the Butler game and presumably Diallo, our leading scorer and highest Usage offensive player. There is a ton of redundancy on this roster of face-up guards/wings who thrive with the ball in isolation......this has all the makings of being a problem. You also want to integrate a high profile freshman wing (yes, another one) in Gantt or run the risk of losing him to transfer.

I'm concerned about this upcoming season.
These are all points well taken, but based on how Duke was utilized down the stretch, I think he enters his Sophomore season starting off-ball, with one of Pipkins or White handling the bulk of PG duties.

I view the coming season as high variance. We know Diallo is a top 10 player in the conference, we've seen the ceilings with Reeves and Watson, and we can dream on the upside of Duke and Nichols. Pipkins also has to be an upgrade over Makai Ashton-Langford, who was flat out terrible while soaking up ~18min/game (albeit unevenly spaced). Kalif Young and Maliek White are also fine role players, to say nothing of what Gantt or Kris Monroe might contribute. It's clearly a more talented roster than the teams Cooley took to the NCAA tournament in 2016-17 and 2017-18, in my opinion.

But next year could also go badly wrong. If one of the sophomores doesn't establish as a reliable 3-point shooter and Diallo, Pipkins and White are all basically what they were this past season, then yikes. The offense will be horrible, even if the defense is pretty good.

Looking for promising signs? I like what Cooley did with his two open scholarships*, bringing in transfers Noah Horchler from North Florida (sit one, play one) and Jared Bynum from St. Joe's (sit one, play three). The roster for the upcoming season has plenty of depth, if lacking for stars, so these were moves that bridge talent gaps in the coming years. With Horchler, the Friars add a stretch-4 type to next year's roster, who doesn't complicate the scholarship matrix going forward. And Bynum was a productive PG in the A-10 last season as a Freshman, who when combined with Pipkins, could potentially shore up that position over the next four years.

*Implied here is Emmitt Holt will be returning, after announcing on social media that he was granted a 6th year of eligibility. Impossible to say what he might contribute based on his medical history, but he's clearly valued within the program as a leader/mentor.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Looking for promising signs? I like what Cooley did with his two open scholarships*, bringing in transfers Noah Horchler from North Florida (sit one, play one) and Jared Bynum from St. Joe's (sit one, play three). The roster for the upcoming season has plenty of depth, if lacking for stars, so these were moves that bridge talent gaps in the coming years. With Horchler, the Friars add a stretch-4 type to next year's roster, who doesn't complicate the scholarship matrix going forward. And Bynum was a productive PG in the A-10 last season as a Freshman, who when combined with Pipkins, could potentially shore up that position over the next four years.
We beat out Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma St, and Clemson for Horchler which is impressive. The downside is that he's a JC transfer who was thrown off the North Florida team last year for repeated rules violations. It seems like maturity and commitment could be a concern. Bynum is a castoff from the Phil Martelli firing and we got lucky here as he's a proven lead guard with 3 years of eligibility which you need a unique situation such as thing to come across. He was really good as a freshman and we beat out Clemson (god we own them), Stanford, Va Tech, Notre Dame, Butler, and Seton Hall.
 

steveluck7

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Thanks! I came in to post the link. I was waiting for my wife when I came across it earlier and she came into the car right as I was posting the original comment
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Have to think Cooley is gone if offered. No raise PC can offer can match Michigan’s. At minimum, does PC give Ed a raise?
Beilein was making 3.8 million a year.

Cooley is making 2.6. I really don't think Michigan will offer him more than Beilein, do you? He is not guaranteed to be a success at UM. If they offer, say, a 4 year deal at 3 million a year, would that trump 2.6 for the next 7 years that he has at PC?
 

CouchsideSteve

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I think Cooley would be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this, unless he’s truly loyal to his hometown above all else. The fan base would be even crazier to hold it against him. If it’s what he wants, I hope he gets it — anyone who has enjoyed Friars basketball in the last 5 years owes him as much.

But boy is it going to suck when he leaves.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I think Cooley would be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this, unless he’s truly loyal to his hometown above all else. The fan base would be even crazier to hold it against him. If it’s what he wants, I hope he gets it — anyone who has enjoyed Friars basketball in the last 5 years owes him as much.

But boy is it going to suck when he leaves.
I'm in complete agreement that he has to listen to the offer and seriously consider it. I just don't think he has the cache to get a substantial raise, especially with the added job security at PC.

I definitely would never hold it against him and would become a Michigan fan overnight.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Twitter rumors saying it is a done deal at 6 million per year...which would be 4th highest in the country. No way he turns that down, but I question the source/Michigan giving him that much.

Comes from a PC kid who does the color for the games. According to the interwebs, he did break the MAL transfer story, though.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I'm in complete agreement that he has to listen to the offer and seriously consider it. I just don't think he has the cache to get a substantial raise, especially with the added job security at PC.

I definitely would never hold it against him and would become a Michigan fan overnight.
Cooley is more nationally respected than you're giving him credit for. He's been an assistant coach for Team USA on a couple of different occasions and led the USA team in the Pan Am Games last summer.

He's used this to his advantage in being able to consistently recruit Top-50 players and just this year beat out several heavyweights for two transfers. There is no reason to believe that Cooley won't be successful recruiting into the Top-20 and above now at Michigan.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I think Cooley would be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this, unless he’s truly loyal to his hometown above all else. The fan base would be even crazier to hold it against him. If it’s what he wants, I hope he gets it — anyone who has enjoyed Friars basketball in the last 5 years owes him as much.

But boy is it going to suck when he leaves.
Cooley staying put per Projo!! Phew!
 

Mloaf71

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How do you extend a lifetime contract? And what is his annual salary now? It has to be $3.5M to $4M I imagine. That’s a huge amount of money for a small school.
 

NickEsasky

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I am shocked he turned down that opportunity. Michigan's loss is our gain.
 

HomeRunBaker

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They are charging nearly $70,000 for tuition for this freshmen class. They can afford it.
I know I’ve thrown in my off topic two cents on this in the Port Cellar.....but that bubble is about to burst in the next 5-10 years (maybe sooner) and it is going to be freakin ugly!
 

CouchsideSteve

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Wow, what a pleasant surprise. Looking his abrupt departure in the face last night just reinforced for me how invaluable he is to this program — virtually the best fit imaginable, on court and off.

Let’s enjoy these next few seasons, guys.