Friar Basketball

What Could Have Been for Timmy

The Tim Welsh era was filled with a lot of “could have been” stories that never panned out.  The most famous being that if Julius Hodge commits to Syracuse, and in turn takes their final scholarship, then Hakim Warrick ends up at Providence forming a three man class of Warrick-Gomes-Sanders.  But, that’s life on the recruiting trail (the more painful what-if, and one that somehow goes under the radar is the loss of Abdul Mills prior to the 2003-04 season.  That team had it all, except for a guard who could create off of the bounce.  I saw them play a month prior to the season and Mills was wearing out Donnie McGrath, Kabba, and Brewington.  Kid was the best player on the floor both times I saw them that fall.  The four game losing streak at season’s end was the story, but the loss of Mills as a true scoring threat next to Gomes, meant this team got nothing out of its guards unless they were hitting from 3).

By 2007 the Welsh era had run its course.  He’d get another year that basically served as a wasted season for Friar fans.  He was now in full-on under the radar recruiting mode, as evidenced by his final three classes (Bilal Dixon as the lone recruit in his final year, Greedy/Brooks/Kellogg the year prior, and McKenzie/Hall/Barney/Dwain Williams three years ago).

Dixon looks like a servicable rotation player, while the 06 McKenzie class and the 04 DeSean White class made up a disaster sandwhich around the poor Curry/McDermott group that never recovered from having to carry the load.

Quietly though, the 07 group is emerging and it could have morphed into a monster class had they landed a kid out of Gomes’ hometown.

How would a three man class of Peterson, Brooks and Damien Saunders fared?  Probably not good enough to save Welsh’s job since they were freshman in his final season, but it would have been a hell of a last gasp.

Brooks’ numbers have been phenomenal.  Somehow no one has noticed that’s he’s shooting over 50% from the field and 48% from 3.  Combined that with 2 steals and a block in only 28 minutes of play and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Peterson’s arrival has gotten more pub because of how surprising it is.  I was hoping he’d turn into a suped-up Erron Maxey, but the kid has feasted, going for 16 and 10, while only turning the ball over five times in seven games.

Substitute Saunders for the formerly overwhelmed and now properly placed in Ohio Alex Kellogg and you’re adding the nation’s second leading rebounder (trailing the nation’s best kept secret Artisom Parakhouski who is averaging 25 and 16, including a 23 and 14 game against Duke and 26 and 20 against Saunders and Duquesne*) and a kid who had 10 steals in his first two games and 11 blocks in his last two.

Against Iowa Saunders racked up 16 points, 16 rebounds, six steals, and three blocks, while hitting both of his 3 pointers in Duquesne’s 52-50 win.

Saunders wasn’t good enough to save Welsh’s job as a freshman, but it is interesting to note that in the midst of a bunch of average to poor recruiting classes, TW came fairly close to hitting a home run in his second to last run.  Could he have coached Brooks, Peterson, and Saunders to where they are now?  A different topic for a different day.

* Parakhouski didn’t even know what the NCAA tournament was a few years ago and the next thing you know he’s putting up monster numbers against ACC teams.  6’10, 260 pounds out of Belarus with a knack for pulling down 20 boards on any given night.  This guy would be a cult figure in Providence.