Friar Basketball

Season Preview: Ben Bentil

Bentil Season Preview

Ben Bentil is featured in the latest “15 in 40” season preview article. Associate Head Coach Andre Lafleur shares his thoughts on Bentil’s upcoming season and we take a look at how productive Bentil was as a freshman when given bigger minutes.

They obviously won’t be remembered in the same light as the 2013-14 and 2014-15 NCAA Tournament teams of the past two seasons, but once healthy the 2012-13 Providence Friars were dangerous enough to go 5-1 in February before winning their first two games in March.

They were also the group that started PC’s resurgence under Ed Cooley.

That was a team that didn’t gel until February, as the Big East’s all-time assist leader Vincent Council and talented freshman Kris Dunn rounded into form from injuries to give the Friars a solid core that also included Big East scoring champion Bryce Cotton and 13/8 sophomore LaDontae Henton.

Manning the middle was redshirt junior Kadeem Batts — a 6’9, 250 pounder who was named the Big East’s Most Improved Player despite being on an island on the interior for much of the season.

Henton was a warrior, an undersized 4 who rebounded with abandon, but outside of him the Friars had little to supplement Batts inside. Lee Goldsbrough and Brice Kofane had their limitations, while Sidiki Johnson’s PC career lasted just 11 games.

The lack of depth often put Ed Cooley in a predicament when Batts picked up an early foul: leave him in, risk a second foul and lose him for the rest of the first half, or send him to the bench and play without a viable center for as long as he could get away with it.

Cooley could be faced with similar decisions this season, as Ben Bentil will not only be asked to step into bigger minutes as a sophomore — he’ll be the only big man returning with experience at the Big East level.

In a best case scenario, Rodney Bullock could play a similar role to Henton, freshman Quadree Smith can contribute, and Bentil is as productive as Batts was that season (nearly 15 points and over 7 rebounds per game). The Friars will try their hand with other “stretch 4” options, but those are the true physical interior players on this roster.

Bentil has already proven he can produce when given additional minutes. He logged over 30 minutes seven times last season and was largely productive in that extended time:

  • 16 points and 11 rebounds on 8-9 FTs vs. Georgetown
  • 16 and 6 on 6-8 FTs vs. DePaul
  • 12 and 10 the next time PC saw DePaul
  • 21 and 10 on 12-12 FT vs. Seton Hall
  • 14 and 13 vs. St. John’s in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal
  • 12 and 10 vs. Villanova in the Big East Semis
  • 5 and 9 vs. Dayton in the NCAA Tournament

The takeaways are clear.

When given 30 minutes Bentil was a virtual double double machine.

He got to the free throw line frequently in those minutes.

Cooley’s trust in Bentil grew during the final month of the season, with all of these 30+ minute games coming after Feb. 1.

With Providence’s plan to open up the offense and press more on defense, I asked Associate Head Coach Andre Lafleur if there was any hesitancy to leave Bentil alone at the back end of a press with seemingly limited options at the 5.

Are there concerns about protecting him from foul trouble?

This is a player who fouled out in 22 minutes against Villanova in mid-February and fouled out the next time out against Seton Hall in just 16 minutes.

“Today we’re not hesitant about anything,” Lafleur said. “Today we’re excited and our plan is to be a very, very aggressive and attacking team on both ends of the court. We’ll make adjustments as we go, but we plan to be a relentless, attacking team that takes no plays off for 40 minutes.”

As with Bullock, the coaching staff will look to utilize Bentil all over the court offensively. Lafleur said Bentil will be put in “a ton” of face up opportunities.

Could Bentil make the leap to All Big East performer this year? “There has to be more production. He has to rebound more and he has to score more. And a lot of his scoring, if he’s attacking the rim, should come from the free throw line,” Lafleur said.

“He’s going to have to get to the free throw line more and he’s going to be relied on more as a leader coming back. He’s going to be the ultimate weapon as far as reading his match ups. We’re going to move him around a lot and we expect him to be one of the leaders on the team, and league, in rebounding.”

There’s not a lot Bentil can’t do. He finished well at the rim last year, can outrun most bigs, he has range out to the arc, and in an era in which most big men want to play like guards this is one who enjoys contact.

Getting to the free throw line will be key in his development in year two. Bentil made 80% at the line in conference games last year and should have ample opportunities at the rim with Dunn feeding him the ball even more this season.

Bentil will look to carry the momentum of his strong finish to last season into a sophomore year in which he becomes a consistent contributor for Providence and one of the breakout players in the Big East this season.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar


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Highlights of Bentil’s freshman season from FriarTV:

2014-15 Shot Chart

Ben Bentil Shot Chart

2015-16 “15 in 40″ season preview articles:

15. Finding the Range from Deep:

14. Where Are They Now?

13. Rodney Bullock’s Day Approaching:

12. Learning More About the Freshmen:

11. Season Preview: Jalen Lindsey:


  1. Derec Lamendola

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  2. Carol Palladino Fortin

    September 23, 2015 at 11:47 pm


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  4. Craig Leighton

    September 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

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  5. Derec Lamendola

    September 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm


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