Overall Rank: #65
Conference Rank: #10 Big East
2006-07: 18-13, 8-8, 10th
2006-07 postseason: NIT
Providence is often overlooked and unappreciated this time of year. After they win some games, the case often remains the same. The Friars could just as easily be ranked fifth in the conference, but there are questions that need to be answered. Last year Providence was in a position to reach the NCAA Tournament but lost three of their last four games and put an end to any bubble talk. The bubble will be back in the lives of Friar fans this year as well and a game or two in late February will make all the difference.
Besides finishing strong, the Friars must also address the Herbert Hill issue. Hill averaged 18.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks during his senior campaign and those are not numbers that will be easily replaced. Hill drastically increased his numbers for his senior year and there are other candidates up front who will potentially have a breakout season this year. However, depending on such things is a risky proposition. Guard Jamal Barney only saw action in 14 games and has opted to transfer.
Randall Hanke is a great place to start when replacing Hill. The 6-11 center led the nation in field goal percentage two years ago and once he can shake off the rust from sitting out last season with an injury, Hanke hopes to man the middle for the Friars. Hanke added 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 2005-2006 and he has the potential to be just as good as Hill was last year. Jeff Xavier, a transfer from Manhattan, will add another scoring threat to the perimeter. The 6-1 junior is a terrific shooter from behind the arc and averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.9 assists for the Jaspers in 2005-2006. Versatile incoming freshman Marshon Brooks can handle any position in the backcourt, but it is forward Jamine Peterson who is the highly touted newcomer. The 6-6 forward may look a little undersized to play the four, but he is a tough, especially on the glass. However, the small forward spot is where his future lies. Alex Kellogg is ready to make a contribution to the frontcourt. The 6-8 power forward is a decent scorer, and like one would expect from the son of Clark Kellogg, is a smart player who knows what he has to do to help his team win.
Who to Watch:
Geoff McDermott? Have not heard of him? Well you will. The 6-8 junior is not just a great player, but he can be amazing to watch. The forward in him averaged 9.1 rebounds and tallied 20 blocks on the season. The guard dished out 5.1 assists per game and garnered a team high 58 steals. And that is not all McDermott can do. He averaged 9.5 points last season and can step out and hit the long ball on occasion. That shooting ability does not carry over to the charity stripe, but hey he cannot do it all. While McDermott will help in the rebounding department, the frontcourt still needs to find a scorer or two, especially if Hanke’s injury concerns linger. Charles Burch, the lone senior on the roster, will not be that scorer, but he will battle in the paint on the defensive end and has a decent shot. Burch missed 14 games due to an injury last year, but should be ready to go by November. Jonathan Kale started the last 18 games last season in place of Burch. Kale is a better scorer and will never fail in the effort department. Ray Hall saw limited action as a freshman, but the 6-11 center will be a decent option off the bench once again.
When healthy, the frontcourt is versatile and deep. The same can be said for the backcourt. Like every player on the team, Sharaud Curry’s turnover numbers were a little high last year, but Curry is still an effective scoring point guard after averaging 15.3 points and 4.4 assists last season. Weyinmi Efejuku probably has the most potential to be the go-to-guy for Providence. Efejuku averaged 14.1 points per game and the 6-5 junior can score in bunches from everywhere on the floor. Sophomore Brian McKenzie and Dwain Williams will add depth to the perimeter. Williams, who started four games at the point, is a quality shooter and averaged 7.5 points per game. With a year of experience under his belt, Williams will be much more difficult to deal with this season. Despite just one senior on the roster, the Friars are all about depth and experience this year. A trip to the NIT would be a disappointment, but it will not be easy to battle through the Big East with a record over .500.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Sharaud Curry, Junior, Guard, 15.3 points per game
Weyinmi Efejuku, Junior, Guard, 14.1 points per game
Geoff McDermott, Junior, Forward, 9.5 points per game
Charles Burch, Senior, Forward, 2.9 points per game
Randall Hanke, Junior, Center, DNP last season