Friar Basketball

In Case You Missed It: “20 in 60” Recap #16-20

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A look back at the first five articles from the “20 in 60” series – twenty story lines to watch in the 60 days leading up to the official start of the college basketball season.

#20 Will Ricky Play?

In a matter of days Providence will either prepare to welcome perhaps the most talented freshman scorer in the Big East, or begin questioning how Cooley will scrap together a rotation out of a potentially shallow bunch for the second year in a row.

You make your own luck in this game, but the Friars sure could use some good news in regards to their well-traveled recruit who has found his way home.  The biggest stage in Providence awaits him.

 

#19 Who Emerges in the Next Phase of the Big East?

Success against the programs that have struggled to make the tournament in recent seasons is essential for a Providence program that has stumbled against top competition since the realignment.

Last year eight of their 15 wins were against teams with an RPI over 200, and they were 2-10 against teams with a top 50 RPI.  They finished 0-5 versus teams with an RPI in the 51-100 range.

For a program that has struggled in recent years, it’s no surprise that Providence’s record against the RPI’s top 50 has not been pretty.

 

#18 The Importance of Starting Strong in the Conference

Since 2001-02, Providence has had four seasons in which they finished .500 or better in conference play (8-8 in 2003, 11-5 in 2004, 8-8 in 2007 and 10-8 in 2009). In each of those seasons they started 2-0 in conference play, with the lone exception being the best team of the bunch, the 2003-04 squad that began 5-1 in conference play, despite losing its conference opener (that team very well could have started 6-0, but Rutgers hit a buzzer-beating three point field goal to erase a 5 point deficit with 10 seconds to play – this a game after a painful loss at the buzzer to Texas).

Put another way, in the last 10 years Providence has never been below .500 after three games and finished at or above .500.

History also tells us that when they start slow it tends to spiral – quickly.

 

#17 Cotton as PC’s Momentum Changer

Often in this space Cotton was referred to as PC’s swing player last year.  Typically, when he shot well the Friars played well.

He was 8-11 from the field in a tough road win over Fairfield.  Shot 11-16 from the field and 10-10 at the line on his way to 34 points in helping the Friars avoid a disaster against Bryant in December.  Perhaps his best stretch of the season came after he caught fire in a blowout of Louisville (5-5 from 3, 10-12 free throws), leading to a run in which he scored at least 15 points in seven of eight Big East games.  He scored over 20 points in four of those contests, hitting 29 three pointers over the eight games.

Not surprisingly, when Providence was at their worst a season ago Cotton struggled, with the low point coming when he shot 4-28 from three point range over a three game stretch in February – the three games following his terrific eight game stretch.

Cotton averaged over 21 points per game in Providence’s Big East victories last year and made five 3 pointers in three of the four victories. The one win in which he did not hit five 3 pointers, Cotton shot 8-14 (2-4 from three) and scored 19 points.

 

#16 The Talented Big Men of 2014

The Providence staff has emphasized that one of the major keys to landing top recruits is to establish early relationships with top local (New England) talent, and build on these relationships throughout the recruitment process.

This strategy will never be more important than in 2014, where the New England prep/high school class is shaping up to be very special, particularly with big men. The good news is that the PC staff has been working overtime to build solid relationships with just about all these players.

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