One of the downfalls of playing a short rotation is lack of experience the following year if some of your starters are seniors. Half of Ed Cooley's six most-used players are no longer on his roster after the graduations of First Team All-Big East guard Bryce Cotton and stalwart center Kadeem Batts, and the loss of shooting guard Josh Fortune, who transferred to Colorado in July.
Looking unlikely to successfully defend their Big East Tournament title, Providence will need to rely heavily on Preseason Second Team All-Big East small forward LaDontae Henton, mobile forward Tyler Harris, center Carson Desrosiers, and the return of point guard Kris Dunn, who missed all but four games last year due to shoulder surgery. No one else on the Friars' roster saw significant time with Ed Cooley using the 2nd-least bench minutes in the country. Reserve forward Brice Kofane transferred to Monmouth this summer with Ben Bentil likely to pass him on the depth chart.
It appears that Providence's middle of the pack (KenPom 149th) non-conference strength from last season will be much improved upon this year. The Friars will challenge themselves against Florida State and Notre Dame at the Hall of Fame Tipoff and on a couple of tough road tests at Kentucky and Boston College. Providence will also challenge themselves at the Dunk by hosting tough local teams in UMass, Stony Brook, and Rhode Island. Further, PC will take on Miami (Fla.) at the Barclays Center on December 22nd. Sounds like a top-50 non-conference schedule, at least.
Roster subtractions: Bryce Cotton (21.8 ppg, 5.9 apg), Kadeem Batts (12.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Josh Fortune (8.4 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.1 apg -- transfer to Colorado), Brice Kofane (4.4 mpg -- transfer to Monmouth)
Returnees to watch: LaDontae Henton (14 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Tyler Harris (11.6, 5.1 rpg), Carson Desrosiers, Kris Dunn (3.8 ppg, 5 apg prior to season-ending surgery)
Key additions: Ben Bentil (top-100 forward), Paschal Chukwu (top-100 center), Jalen Lindsey (top-100 small forward)
Projected starting lineup: PG - Kris Dunn, SG - Jalen Lindsey, SF - LaDontae Henton, PF - Tyler Harris, C - Carson Desrosiers
With four starting positions likely locked in, Ed Cooley's fifth starting slot looks up for grabs between top-100 power forward Ben Bentil, who was just ruled eligible by the NCAA, top-100 wing/shooting guard Jalen Lindsey, and Cleveland State transfer Junior Lomomba. Like last season, Cooley is short on guard depth with just Kris Dunn and two unranked freshmen guards in Tyree Chambers and Kyron Cartwright as the only pure guards at Cooley's disposal (as a recruit from Germany, Chambers is naturally an unknown commodity.) However, 6-foot-7 Jalen Lindsey has been touted as a starting shooting guard candidate by Cooley while Junior Lomomba is listed as a 6-foot-5 guard but largely unproven while at Cleveland State (5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.2 apg).
If I had to guess, I'd say Jalen Lindsey starts while Paschal Chukwu spells Desrosiers, the 13th most effective blocker in 2013-14, and Ben Bentil provides more of a traditional post presence off the bench compared to Tyler Harris; Chukwu, Bentil and Lomomba project as Cooley's three most used bench players. It looks like the Friars will drop in effective height (15th last season) since Kadeem Batts' departure, however the 7-foot-2 Chukwu may team up with the 7-foot senior Desrosiers quite well. Further, Cooley's 11 scholarship players have an average height of 6-foot-5.
Providence was slightly below the national average in three-point reliance last season and have lost 61-percent of their three-attempts in Batts, Cotton, and Fortune. Kris Dunn is an unproven outside shooter at the college level (4-14 freshman season) but Henton and Harris can stretch defenses as they were a collective 85-250 (34%) from three last year. If Jalen Lindsey is playing shooting guard, he will be a prime candidate to be a third threat from deep, though it looks like Providence will again be below average from beyond the arc this season.
Picked fifth in both the Big East Preseason Coaches Poll and the preseason KenPom rankings, Providence looks to be a bubble-out or NIT-bound team this season. Ed Cooley has capable talent on the wing and in his front court, but questionable depth at guard may handicap his team this season.
Our look at Creighton will be published this Sunday while Villanova follows on Wednesday, November 5th. Here is the rest of our Big East Preview Series:
- Despite losses of Christon, Martin, and Philmore, there are high expectations for Xavier
- St. John's has an NCAA-caliber backcourt, will Chris Obekpa lead an inexperienced batch of forwards?
- 2014-15 looks to be a rebuilding year for Marquette after an exodus of talent and head coach Buzz Williams
- Will the Big East's best recruiting class and the return of Joshua Smith help Georgetown?
- Butler has a solid backcourt but questions at forward as they look to start season without Brandon Miller
- Losing Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young will have to be addition by subtraction for DePaul