Friar Basketball

Providence vs Assumption One Year Ago


Henton showed early promise

With Assumption set to visit Alumni Hall to kick off the exhibition season for the second year in a row, a look back on where the Friars stood at this time last season is warranted.

The Friars were in a state of flux last season.  Already short on depth, they learned prior to the game that freshman point guard Kiwi Gardner was deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA, while late-breaking news had Kadeem Batts out for an indefinite suspension.

The short-handed Friars started a pair of freshman in the frontcourt (LaDontae Henton and Brice Kofane) and were forced to slide the slender 6’3 Gerard Coleman over to small forward.

Providence scored just two field goals in the game’s opening 11 minutes, and struggled throughout, leading by a single point late in the second half to an Assumption squad that eventually finished .500 on their season.

So, who was the x-factor?  Surprisingly, it was Bilal Dixon.

Here is my article on the game last season (“New Era Kicks off with Early Statements from Cooley”) from the old site which detailed Dixon’s impact, Cooley’s decision early in the second half to go with his walk-ons, and a few of the bright spots in a night in which Providence was actually out-rebounded 38-33.

From the article:

While Batts and two-year starter Bilal Dixon were expected to carry the load for a frontcourt low on experience, neither started in the exhibition opener on Tuesday night.

Cooley’s frontcourt consisted of a pair of freshman: LaDontae Henton and Brice Kofane, as well as Gerard Coleman, who slid over to the three spot with Vincent Council and Bryce Cotton in the backcourt.

And when the Friar head coach went to the bench early it was Ron Giplaye, not Dixon, who was inserted into the game first.

Then it was Lee Goldsbrough.

Then it was walk-on Chris Carter.

Then it was a few more minutes.

Was Dixon going to play at all?

Finally, in came Dixon, and what resulted was an inspired effort from the junior center.

Yesterday, I noted that Dixon’s motor was going to be one of the five things to watch in the exhibition opener.  Visibly frustrated at times a season ago, he came into the game with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half and the Friars surprisingly trailing by six.  He responded by swatting a shot out of bounds, followed by him urging his opponents to up their defensive intensity.

That’s just what he did the rest of the way.

Dixon played with great energy, scoring 13 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and being credited for five blocks – a number that felt even higher in person – in an effort that turned the tide for a Providence team that had scored a mere two field goals in the game’s first 10 minutes.


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