Friar Basketball

This One Hurts

krisdunndribbling

Next season, the Friars will have an electric lead guard who possesses the ability to get into the lane and make plays. Hard to guard and equally difficult on defenders, Dunn possesses arguably the most long-term potential of any point guard in the class.

So, we hope.

Friar fans can be forgiven for a little semester break self-pity now that sophomore point guard Kris Dunn has been officially ruled out for the season with shoulder surgery pending. It was back in August of 2011 when ESPN’s Dave Telep wrote of how Dunn was going to change the game in Providence.

Before stepping foot on the court he already did.

Ed Cooley was a few months into his tenure at Providence and spoke of the courage it took for Dunn to hop aboard the Cooley Express when the many of the nation’s elite camp calling. Dunn isn’t the first major talent sidelined under Cooley, but there’s something particularly cruel about this particular player going down for the second year in a row.

Maybe it’s because he was the first to take the plunge. Let’s face it, Providence had been far from a recruiting hotbed prior to Dunn’s commitment, and his pledge seemed to open the floodgates for Cooley and the Friars. Cooley’s message — how he would absolutely land players — gained immediate credibility after Dunn committed to him four months after Cooley was hired.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been teased by the talent: 13 assists in his first college game, 12 boards versus St. John’s, 14/9/6 in a narrow win in the NIT last year, and the St. Thomas Takeover of Vanderbilt last month. Dunn returned to form by season’s end last year, albeit playing off of the ball, and showed enough in small doses this season to let Friartown realize just what they’ll be missing going forward.

Maybe it’s because of the trickle down effect Dunn has on this roster. Even if he wasn’t the Big East’s breakout star this year, he was, by far, the team’s best perimeter defender, and allowed teammates to slide to their natural positions. If he did break out the Friars may have potentially gone from a bubble team to one that could sneak their way into the Sweet 16 if the field broke just right. I believe that it was possible, others may not. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Maybe it’s because Dunn was willing to risk further injury, and his future, to be on the court with his teammates.

Maybe it’s because this feels like yet another in a seemingly un-ending string of terrible breaks for Providence.

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Whatever your reason, the loss of Dunn may not preclude Providence from figuring it out over the next two months and sneaking their way into NCAA Tournament discussions in a weak Big East, but it is an absolute buzzkill in December.

When Telep, and so many others, wrote of Dunn’s potential impact on this program in the summer of 2011, it felt like his freshman season would take forever to arrive. It’s the December of 2013 and Friar fans are going to have to wait another year to see the real Kris Dunn.

Ed Cooley sounded different this fall. After hearing him address the crowd at the season ticket holder party I turned to someone and said “Cooley loves this team.” You could hear it in his voice.

And knowledgeable PC fans quietly loved how the roster was shaping up as well – depth in the front and backcourt, experience, and length.

Now Dunn is finished for the season — shoulder injuries all but costing him his first two seasons at Providence — with serious questions remaining as to whether freshmen Brandon Austin or Rodney Bullock will play this season.

What remains is a roster capable of defeating any team in this new conference, a team Friartown could all potentially love come March, but not the one we’d fallen for in October.

It won’t be fair to the remaining roster, but no matter how this group fares this season, the question will creep up throughout, “imagine if this team had Kris Dunn?”

 

 

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