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CBB: Off-season check in, polls, exhibitions and recruiting



RI CBB: Off-season check in, polls, exhibitions and recruiting

Off-season polls are, well, exactly what they are. Take it for what it’s worth but both Providence (26th) and URI (25th)  cracked CBS Sports latest Top 25 (and 1) rankings this past week. Seeing the Friars get any off-season love whatsoever is always a surprise. The University of Rhode Island is the clear favorite to take the A-10 this season and will look to make its second straight tournament appearance.

Providence announced this week that there will be not one, but two pre-season exhibitions at the Dunkin Donuts Center this season. The two games will take place on October 28th against Carleton a team from Canada in which the Friars played last season. The Friars struggled in the first half but ultimately ran away with the game in the second. The other will be played on November 4th against Baruch College, a division III school from New York. Baruch played Saint John’s in a pre season game last year and lost by 50.

Something tells me the school tried to accommodate fans with a second scrimmage to make up for the one less regular season game at the Dunk, due to their first game of the season being played at Alumni Hall.  It has also been rumored that the fan-favorite ‘Mal Brown’ Scrimmage will be taking place this season after going the previous few years without one. An in house scrimmage would be the perfect way for fans to see what the freshman will be bringing to the table along with what veterans have improved since that sour tasting loss to USC took place in March.

Image result for Mal brown scrimmage

Looking Ahead to 2018

Rivals recently released their team rankings for the class of 2018 and Providence was slotted at number 20. With five seniors on the current roster, the class of ’18 will undoubtedly be one of Cooley’s most crucial classes to date. Two players have already signed on to play with the friars for next season. A.J Reeves, a 6’5 shooting guard chose Providence over Louisville, Virginia and Villanova. Reeves is ranked 42nd in the class of ’18. Kris Monroe, who verbally committed to Providence over Boston College and NC state is a 6’7 small forward and is known as a shooter.

This leaves 3 open spots for the class of ’18. Cooley got good news from now top target and Providence native David Duke who cut his list down to five schools. Villanova, Indiana, Florida, Virginia Tech and Providence are the last schools he will be considering before making his decision. Duke is ranked in the top 50 and would be a huge get. They say don’t put the cart before the horse, but a back court of Makai Ashton-Langford, A.J Reeves and David Duke would bring greatness to Friar town.

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Big East Offseason Preview



Big East Offseason Preview

After having a National Champion in 2016 and sending seven teams to the Big Dance in 2017, it’s safe to say the Big East is back.
Big name players such as Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) Angel Delgado (Seton Hall) Marcus Foster (Creighton) and Rodney Bullock (Providence) opted to return to school while the only big hits the conference took were losing Justin Patton and Edmond Sumner to the NBA draft.

Power Rankings:

1. Villanova

Until proven otherwise its Villanova’s world (in the big east) and everybody else is just living in it. Losing senior class of All-American Josh Hart, Mr. Big Shot Kris Jenkins and Starting Center Darryl Reynolds will not be easy to overcome. On the bright side, Jalen Brunson could turn into an All American and Mikal Bridges (Big east defensive player of the year in ’16-’17) is projected to be an NBA first round pick in 2018. Also, don’t forget about Phil Booth who started the first 3 games of the season for the wildcats last year and was then sidelined with a knee injury for the season.

2. Xavier:

Xavier s-t-u-m-b-l-e-d to the finish line last season, barley making the NCAA tournament and then turned that into an Elite 8 appearance. Trevon Bluiett could win National Player of the Year and Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. I would say losing Sumner will be tough, but they played a good part of the season without him last season. Lookout for impact freshman point guard Paul Scruggs (Ranked 30th in the ESPN top 100 and highest rated big east freshman in 2017)

3. Providence:

With everybody returning next season and a top 15 recruiting class coming in, the Friars are looking to take a jump forward next season. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock have First Team Big East potential and Makai Ashton-Langford could be freshman of the year in the Big East. Ed Cooley thrives when being looked past, but I don’t see anybody looking past Providence this year.

4. Seton Hall:

With walking Double-Double Angel Delgado returning to school things are looking good for the Pirates. Khadeen Carrington led the way with 17 points a game last season and Myles Powell could break out in ’17-’18. The talent is there for sure, but can The Hall get past the first round in the big dance?

5. Saint John’s:

Marcus Lovett and Shamorie Ponds combined to average 33 points a game as freshman and will definitely look to take a bigger leap as sophomores. Transfers Marvin Clark (Michigan State) and Justin Simon (Arizona) will look to make an immediate impact. I think this could be Chris Mullin’s year to break into the Big Dance.

6. Butler:

Not only did the Bulldogs lose their Head Coach Chris Holtmann but also do it all big man Andrew Chrabascz which will hurt down low. Kelan Martin will average close to 20 points per game and has NBA talent. Look for Kamar Baldwin to take a leap in his sophomore campaign.

7. Creighton:

Guards. Marcus Foster is a bucket, Khyri Thomas is a defensive stopper and Kaleb Joseph will be an impact transfer running the point. But who will fill in for first round pick Justin Patton down low?

8. Marquette:

Markus Howard led the country in 3-point percentage last season and is one of the players I’m most looking forward to see in the ’17-’18 season. However, Marquette lost a lot from last season and I see them taking a step down.

9. DePaul:

Losing Billy Garrett Jr Hurts, but a decent recruiting class and Eli Cain could keep the Blue Demons from the basement of the Big East.

10. Georgetown:

Patrick Ewing’s first season will be spent at the bottom of the league. This roster needs a lot of help, but I am looking forward to the first time Saint John’s and Georgetown square off in the battle of Mullin vs Ewing.

Pre-season Player of the Year: Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)

Preseason First Team:

Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
Angel Delgado (Seton Hall)
Marcus Foster (Creighton)
JP Macura (Xavier)
Mikal Bridges (Villanova)

Preseason Second Team:

Kyron Cartwright (Providence)
Kelan Martin (Butler)
Markus Howard (Marquette)
Rodney Bullock (Providence)
Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall)

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Expectations Should Be High in Friar Town



Big East Talk: Expectations Should Be High in Friar Town

After an unexpected trip to the Big Dance last March for Providence, expectations will be at an all-time high once November rolls around. Cooley and Company have made 4 straight tourney appearances and are primed to make a 5th in 2018.

Flash back to around this time last summer where the main question lingering in Friar Fans minds was nothing but “Who will step up this season and replace Batman and Robin?”.

I mean, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Then again, of course, I can recall the summer before that and fans were wondering who would replace 2,000 point scorer Ladontae Henton. Oh, and the summer before that wondering who would replace Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts. To answer the original question, the answer was everybody.

Everybody stepped up last season. It was a much more balanced offense and teams couldn’t put all of their focus on one go-to guy.

Well, the 2016-2017 Friars who were preseason picked 9th in the Big East Conference finished with a record of 20-13 and finished 3rd in the Big East with no seniors. No seniors paired up with the 15th ranked incoming recruiting class (according to Rivals) seems like a recipe for success to me.

This incoming class accounts for a plethora of needs. Start with Makai Ashton-Langford, the former Uconn commit who asked out of his letter of intent early in the spring and hoped on board with Cooley shortly after. Ashton-Langford was ranked 44th in the class of ’17 by Rivals and is also a top 50 prospect in ESPN’s rankings. The crafty point guard will give the Friars another player with the ability to create for himself and attack the basket, something they so desperately needed last season.

Big men Nate Watson (ranked 84th by rivals) and Dajour Dickens (ranked 121st by rivals) make what was a relatively thin front court now seem a bit clogged up. Watson and Dickens remind me a lot of the class of ’14 front court. Watson (6’8 250 lbs) built like Ben Bentil, will be expected to compete for minutes from day one. Dickens ( 6’10 205 lbs) could be the rim protector we all hoped current Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu would have been.

Although it’s only July, Friar Fans should start getting excited about the upcoming season.


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