Friar Basketball

15 in 40: #14 Where Do They Fit?


For the third straight year, highlights the key stories heading into the upcoming season. This year we’ll have 15 story lines in the 40 days leading up to the season opener.

The suits.

The recruiting rankings.

The future.

So much of the narrative when it came to Providence over the past two seasons focused on what the program was to be, not where it currently stood. And for much of Ed Cooley’s first two years at PC the future seemed to be enthralling, while the present – the on-court product – was almost secondary.

That all changed when Bryce Cotton knocked down a game winner at Villanova and sent the Friars on their way to their most February wins in school history last year. Suddenly, the caveats started going away. Cotton was no longer just a three point shooter, but an elite scorer, while Kadeem Batts made believers out of those who figured his big November and December numbers would dip when Big East play began.

Winning has a funny way of doing that.

The present became far more intriguing as Providence won seven of nine games late in the season and finished with a surprising 19 wins, despite having the most talented suits in America (Ricky Ledo, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers) watching from the sidelines all year.

2012-13 became the year in which Cooley’s Friars expedited the rebuilding process, thanks in large part to their two stars. In 2013-14 those stars will be joined by a fully healthy Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton, while the suits are finally off of Harris and Desrosiers.

Lost in the excitement of merging the core with the future are the contributions of a pair of role players who helped turn the season around – role players seemingly all of Friartown presumes will be buried on a deeper depth chart.

Providence has nine years of experience coming from three of their bench players. Today, we take a look at all three.

Lee Goldsbrough: Cooley was honest in his assessment of Goldsbrough after he emerged as a solid role player in February. The coach said he didn’t trust him earlier in the season, citing a lack  of confidence from the 6’9 senior-to-be. Ever humble, Goldsbrough didn’t disagree, but to his credit, he played his role perfectly when called upon last year.

He rarely turned the ball over, seemed to be in the right spot defensively more often than not and played himself into a combined 54 minutes of action in early season wins at Villanova and over Cincinnati. Goldsbrough peaked in the Cincinnati win, despite modest numbers. He was a headliner after the game, with Cooley noting “I can’t praise Lee Goldsbrough enough.”

This sequence was as good as it got for Goldsbrough last year.

Despite the solid showing versus Cincinnati, the minutes show that Cooley wasn’t ready to leave Goldsbrough on the floor for extended time, as he saw seven minutes or less in all but one of the regular season games that followed.

Yet, Goldsbrough’s season caught a second wind in the NIT, as he played 56 minutes in three tournament games and had his most productive night of the year in a 6 point, 9 rebound effort versus Robert Morris.

Prognosis for this year? The additions of Harris and Desrosiers may mean that Goldsbrough never sees more minutes than what he did a year ago, but on nights in which Cooley is searching for stability he’ll look down the bench and give Goldsbrough the nod.

Ted Bancroft: Bancroft couldn’t have known he was signing up for this. 45 minutes against Penn State. 32 in a win over Mississippi State. 24 at home against Connecticut.

What started as a “you’re all we’ve got, kid” role for Bancroft in the first semester turned into a surprising season in which the junior played a combined 25 minutes in the team’s final two NIT game, despite Dunn and Vincent Council having long returned to the lineup.

A year ago, the walk-on was a fan favorite, but not in the traditional sense for most non-scholarship players. He brought a little bit of grime to a program that hadn’t gotten dirty on the defensive end in years. At 6’5 he was long at the top of a zone, and for a non-scholarship player he effectively stayed in front of some of the most talented guards in the country when guarding them one on one. The emergence of Bancroft as a defender, combined with the return to health of Dunn, gave Providence a bit of a defensive identify for the first time in recent memory.

While more the talented suits waited on the side, Bancroft left his all on the floor and turned himself into a reliable defender and occasional rebounder (8 vs. UConn, 7 vs. Mississippi State) in the process.

The additions of Harris and freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock make the wing much more crowded, but Cooley won’t hesitate to turn to Bancroft when his team is flat – and if he plays as he did a year ago, Bancroft will ignite the Dunk with his energy when given time.

Brice Kofane: 2012-13 turned into a lost year for Kofane after he saw big minutes in the first semester. He played at least 20 minutes in five of the first eight games, and had a solid season opener with 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals in 32 minutes, but as the season continued his minutes lessened.

Kofane didn’t play in five of the first eight conference games, and failed to produce anything close to his numbers from the first semester once conference play started.

Clearly, what’s hurt Kofane are his hands. The 6’8 redshirt junior is a terrific leaper and a very good shot blocker, but he struggled mightily last season when it came to corralling rebounds and passes near the rim. That deficiency kept him from seeing consistent minutes as the season wore on.

This season he’ll be part of a crowed power forward slot that should see a lot of Henton, some of Batts and potentially a little of Bullock, Harris and Goldsbrough as well.




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