Friar Basketball

Six Things to Look for at Mal Brown

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Yes, it’s an early season run-through, but the Mal Brown scrimmage has been telling at times in the past.  Perhaps it’s never been more anticipated than this season, with Providence native Ricky Ledo taking to the floor in a Providence uniform for the only time this season.

Here are six things to look for at this year’s scrimmage:

Cotton’s ball handling: The Friars return only Vincent Council and Bryce Cotton as scholarship guards this season, and opposing coaches won’t be doing their job if they don’t force the ball out of Council’s hands as often as they can.

For as creative as Council is with the ball, his teammates were ineffective in returning the favor last season.  The Friars simply lack ball handlers, especially while Kris Dunn is on the shelf, and it will be worth noting to see who the coaching staff has playing opposite Council at point guard during tomorrow’s scrimmage.

A likely candidate could be Cotton, who will be asked to set the offense early in the season when Council takes to the bench, and with Gerard Coleman off to Gonzaga Providence is down one of the few players they had who could generate offense off of the bounce last year.

Development from the front court: If this front court didn’t have a chip on their shoulder heading into this season they’ve got reason to have one now.  Big East coaches selected Providence 15th in the preseason poll, despite returning a preseason 1st Team All Big East pick in Council, and one of the more highly-regarded players in the league in LaDontae Henton.

It’s not an unfair knock at this juncture.  Kadeem Batts has shown flashes, yet failed to find any consistency in two seasons, Brice Kofane has had his moments defensively, but played too fast (in his own words) on the offensive end and in gathering rebounds last season, while Lee Goldsbrough has seen his playing time diminish once conference play begins.

Perhaps no other players will be more intriguing tomorrow than Batts and sophomore transfer Sidiki Johnson, who will be eligible to play in the second semester.  Both are physically capable of playing in the Big East, but few in Friartown have gotten a long enough look at Johnson to have any sense of the impact he’ll have, and Batts looked a step slow at times last year after missing the first semester.

Council’s jumper: Three consecutive 4-14 Big East seasons haven’t helped Council’s national acclaim, but even within Big East circles there had been some hesitancy to place him among the conference’s elite prior to this season.  The record is one factor, the other might be a lack of a consistent shot.

Council is a solid shooter from 17 feet, but saw his three point shooting number drop from .338 as a sophomore to .293 junior year.  In reality, he probably wasn’t a much better shooter as a sophomore, as a 1-13 close from 3 to end the season really hurt his season average.

Still, 39% from the field, 29% from three and 67% at the line are numbers that will have to jump if he’s to be considered a top five player in the Big East this season.

First look at Fortune: In a time in which so many Friar recruits prep in New England, or star in several highlight reels, there’s been little opportunity for most to get a true feel for freshman Josh Fortune’s game.  Cooley raved about him in an interview with Cox Sports’ Vin Parise, and Saturday will provide a first glimpse for many.

Is he a true knock down shooter?  More than just a jump shooter?  An above average athlete?  It won’t be possible to answer all of these questions in one afternoon (although many are quick to write off recruits after seeing them on a single occasion), but Friar fans should have a better sense for Fortune’s game come Saturday night.

The new-look Alumni Hall: I caught my first glimpse of it two weeks ago and it looks terrific.  The new seats make it feel bigger and the video scoreboards are a dramatic upgrade.

The scout team: Tyler Harris, Carson Desrosiers, and yes, Ricky Ledo will take to the court for the only time in 2012-13.  Ledo’s appearance might be a painful reminder of what could have been this season for Friars fans, but it also marks another step in a four-five year journey for many in Friartown who began tracking Ledo’s career since his days at Bishop Hendricken.  It’s been a long and winding journey to get him here, one filled with doubts and question marks along the way, and Saturday will be the only opportunity to see him in a Friar jersey this season.

Not to be overlooked are Harris and Desrosiers.  When he’s playing at his peak, Harris is similar to Henton in that he’s a 3/4 combo capable of scoring from inside and out.  He’s not the glass cleaner that Henton is, but Harris is a long 6’9, liable to get hot from deep, or do damage from 15-18 feet and in.  If he gets to the free throw line he’ll flash a nice touch at the stripe.

Desrosiers could certainly be a swing player next season.  Cooley had tremendous success in developing a similar type player in Ryan Olander at Fairfield.  In Cooley’s last season there Olander was a 10 point per game scorer, who wasn’t dominant on the boards, but steady (6.8 per), while finishing second in the MAAC in blocks and field goal percentage.

Desrosiers has more upside than Olander did coming out of high school, but he’ll also be playing against more formidable front courts.  If the seven footer ends up playing a similar role in Providence for two seasons Friartown would take it.

 

Email Kevin at kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

 

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