Friar Basketball

Friars Prep for Exhibition Finale

Ed Cooley Closeup

Ed Cooley gets one final look at his team in exhibition play on Saturday afternoon, and as the coach tells it, the Friars will treat that game more like a regular season contest than this past weekend’s loss to Carleton University.

The coach didn’t seem overly-concerned with last Saturday’s loss to Carleton. If the Friars looked disjointed it was most likely because they tinkered with a number of different lineup combinations. What troubled Cooley in the Carleton loss was his team’s defensive effort, which he called “disconnected” on his weekly radio show on WEEI Thursday night.

Cooley told host John Rooke that this Saturday’s exhibition finale against Baruch will be “100% game-like”, so we should get a better sense of what Providence’s early season rotation will look like.

The Friars figure to be without senior Jalen Lindsey, who has been battling through a sore knee in recent weeks. An MRI this week came back negative, so this isn’t expected to be a long term issue. Cooley also told the media on Thursday that Drew Edwards missed practice time this week battling through back spasms.

Providence figures to have a size advantage against Baruch on Saturday. One big man who has impressed Cooley early, with not only his play, but his attitude, is freshman Nate Watson.

Watson appeared on Cooley’s radio show last night and noted that he’s down from 260 pounds to 247 since arriving on campus.

“When we recruited Nate we were sold the second we walked into the gym,” Cooley said.

“I think his ceiling is as high as he wants it to be. (He has a) high motor. Nate wants to please you. He’s one of the most physical players we’ve recruited here.”

Cooley has never shied away from placing high expectations on his newcomers. Last season he said he believed Kalif Young could one day lead the Big East in rebounding, and earlier this fall he compared Watson to Boston College great Craig Smith, who Cooley coach during his time at BC.

“He doesn’t know how good he’s going to be,” Cooley said of Watson’s upside. “He brings physicality in front of the rim and an unbelievable attitude in practice. He’s feisty.”

Cooley was equally effusive of what Watson brings away from the court, “He’s funny, engaging, and very, very intelligent. He’s not someone I worry about off the floor.”

Watson made four of five shots in PC’s exhibition win over UConn last week, finishing with eight points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.

He should be thrust into solid playing time early, as Emmitt Holt remains away from the team after offseason abdominal surgery.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar



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