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Preseason Preview: Providence

Howard

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Providence Friars
17-18 Record: 21-14 (10-8 in the Big East)
Postseason?: Managed a 10 seed in the NCAAs, losing in the first round to Texas A&M
17-18 KenPom: 63
Date: January 20, 2019 & February 23, 2019
Location: Fiserv Forum & Dunkin Donuts Center (Providence, RI)
Coach: Ed Cooley (8th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 30-70
Projected Conference Finish: 5/10 in the Big East

Departures from 17-18
Kyron Cartwright: Starting PG: 31.2 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.7 tpg, .427 FG%, .376 3P% (Graduated)
Jalen Lindsey: Starting PF: 32.8 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.6 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .411 FG%, .395 3P% (Graduated)
Rodney Bullock: Starting C: 32.9 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .435 FG%, .333 3P% (Graduated)
Dajour Dickens: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 3 games (Transferred to Old Dominion)
Tom Planek: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 13 games (Graduated)
46% of scoring, 33% of rebounding, 54% of assists, 45% of steals, 43% of blocks, 71% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Emmitt Holt: Starting PF, returns from injury
David Duke: 4-star PG, ranked #47 per 247 Composite
AJ Reeves: 4-star SG, ranked #48 per 247 Composite
Jimmy Nichols: 3-star PF, ranked #188 per 247 Composite
Kris Monroe: 3-star SF, ranked #324 per 247 Composite

Probable Starters:
PG: David Duke: 6’5” 198 lb FR: 4-star PG, ranked #47 per 247 Composite
SG: AJ Reeves: 6’6” 210 lb FR: 4-star SG, ranked #48 per 247 Composite
SF: Alpha Diallo: 6’7” 211 lb JR: 30.7 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .466 FG%, .214 3P%
PF: Isaiah Jackson: 6’6” 225 lb RSJR: 20.3 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg 1.1 tpg, .371 FG%, .360 3P%
C: Emmitt Holt: 6’7” 230 lb RSSR: 27.5 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .523 FG%, .344 3P% (stats from 16-17 season)

Probable Bench:
Kalif Young: 6’9” 255 lb JR PF
Nate Watson: 6’10” 260 lb SO C
Makai Ashton-Langford: 6’3” 185 lb SO PG
Maliek White: 6’3” 190 lb JR PG
Jimmy Nichols: 6’8” 220 lb FR PF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Drew Edwards: 6’4” 190 lb RSJR SG
Kris Monroe: 6’8” 220 lb FR SF
Andrew Fonts: 6’2” 170 lb SO PG

Notes:

• The Friars were a bit of an anomaly last season. Their KenPom ranking of 63 was the second lowest last year and one of the lowest of the last few years to earn an at large bid to the NCAAs. But the Friars two wins against Xavier and big win against eventual national champion Villanova was enough to push them not only into the tournament but out of the first four in Dayton. From that team, the Friars are losing their top three players in terms of minutes but adding two top 50 freshman and a former starter who returns from injury. Given the important departures but intriguing additions, it is hard to put a finger on whether Providence will be improving or taking a step back.
• Gone is Kyron Cartwright, the diminutive Compton native who led the Big East in assists this most recent season. With him gone, the Friars have a huge hole to fill at the most vital position on the floor. They have a trio of possible answers but none of them seem like a sure thing at this moment. Makai Ashton-Langford was the second highest rated recruit in the Big East last season, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from his stat line. He only averaged 13 minutes a game though he did manage 4.2 points and 1.7 assists in that limited time. His shooting was nightmarish as he went 3/25 from beyond the arc. Rising junior Maliek White got similar minutes and was more of a scorer than a distributor. He was the fourth most accurate three-point shooter but has always been more of a shooting guard. The player with the best shot may be true freshman David Duke. The local product was a late riser in the rankings but eventually found himself ranked in the top 50. He is an athletic freak of a lead guard who can dribble through any defense and can finish with authority with either hand. His jumpshot is a huge question though and may keep him off the floor. PG is a position of concern for the Friars, though if anyone can find a star PG in this group, Ed Cooley can.
• The star player of this year’s Friars looks to be wing Alpha Diallo. After being hampered by an injury early in the season, Diallo became the swiss army knife of the team. He was second in scoring, second in assists, second in steals, and the team’s leading rebounder. He is a shot creator with a love for hitting baseline jumpers and exploiting backdoor screens. If he is to make the jump to an All-Big East caliber player, he will need to work on his outside shooting. He is a career 22% shooter from deep with only 24 makes over two seasons. He was a model of consistency in Big East play, scoring double digits in every game but one (in a home loss to DePaul of all teams). An interesting tidbit about Diallo, he has the tendency to show up big in losses. Three of his four 20 point+ performances came in losses to Seton Hall, Villanova, and Texas A&M.
• Few teams experienced a bigger offseason blow than the Friars last season. Big man and de facto starting center Emmitt Holt lost the entire 17-18 season due to an abdominal injury that required surgery. Holt transferred from JUCO powerhouse Indian Hills as a junior. In his first season as a Friar he proved himself to be a capable undersized post presence. He averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a game and used his wide frame to do both efficiently. His presence would have altered the Friars’ season drastically a year ago and it could have meant a very special season in Providence. His coming back does provide a nice bridge between seasons as it softens the blow of losing three starters. It is unknown what condition Holt will be in when he steps back onto the court. As recently as mid-June, Coach Cooley said that Holt was cleared for weight training but not full contact basketball. If he comes back 100%, he could be an All-Big East player. If not, who knows what level he will be playing at. Holt’s status could be the difference between an NCAA appearance and missing the postseason altogether.
• Assuming Holt is healthy, he is likely the starter at the 5 for Ed Cooley. But the Friars also have a pair of talented big bodies that could allow Holt to slide over to the more natural 4 position. Rising junior and former Marquette target Kalif Young is your prototypical back to the basket center. He’s big, he’s a bit slow, but he rebounds very well and plays solid defense in the post. Running with him is the more atypical Nate Watson. Watson is a near seven-footer with a knack for getting buckets. He averaged nearly 7 points a game in less than 14 minutes of action and did it with alarming efficiency. This did come with the drawback of him being a black hole on the offensive side. Once Watson got the ball, he did not give it up. He only managed 4 assists in 35 appearances. His rebounding and defense is also not on par with Young’s. However, between Young and Watson, Cooley has an effective offense/defense type combo to run out at the 5 to give the Friars some roster flexibility.
• Providence was a poor outside shooting team last season. They were 9th in the Big East in 3PM (ahead of lowly DePaul) and 8th in 3P% at 33%. Amazingly, they could be even worse this season. They lose their top 3 snipers in Lindsey, Bullock and Cartwright. That’s 71% of the threes they hit last season. The only player on their roster who as more than 28 career 3PMs is Isaiah Jackson. The rest of their roster has 28 makes or less and all with low accuracy. Holt’s return could help as he made 21 threes with 34% accuracy as a junior. They have two top 50 guards coming in, but both have three-point shooting listed as weakness in their ESPN recruiting profiles. If Cooley cannot find some three-point shooters lying around Providence may face a plethora of packed in zones making it impossible for their talented slashers and posts to operate.

Prediction:
• Lots of question marks going into this one. Who steps up as the PG? Is Holt 100% healthy? Where does their outside shooting come from? Not all these questions get answered and Marquette sweeps the season series, returning to their dominance over the Friars.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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