Friday, October 12, 2007


October 13, 2007


Official Website of Providence College Basketball

2007-2008 Official Providence Roster & Bios

Meet Coach Tim Welsh

Dunkin’ Donuts Center

2007-2008 Providence College Basketball Schedule


Tim Welsh enters his 10th season as head coach of the Providence College Friars. As one of the longest tenured coaches in the conference, this is a huge year for Welsh and his program as expectations have risen with an experienced team in place to compete for a bid to the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the upper-echelon of the powerful Big East conference. After a very disappointing season in 2004-2005, the Friars have shown slow, but steady improvement since, reaching the NIT Tournament last year after going 8-8 in the Big East. With a team possible starting line-up of five juniors and some key sophomores and freshman coming off the bench, the next two years should be even better at PC.

Before we start penciling in the Friars for a Big East Tournament bye and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, their first since a 1st round loss to Pacific in 2003-2004, the Friars must overcome the stigma of bad luck that has derailed the program at times recently. Whether it has been sudden departures by promising players or injuries to key personnel, the Friars just have not seemed to be able to put things together consistently for coach Welsh. Even the 2004 season fizzled down the stretch as the Friars lost their last two regular season games, both at home, to fumble any chance of a league title and then bowed out of the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament in their first games. Even with an impressive showing in the Preseason NIT the following year and returning All-American Ryan Gomes leading the way, the Friars fell apart going 4-12 in the Big East. When expectations rise, it seems like the Friars have missed the mark one too many times previously.

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This season already seems to have gotten off on the wrong ‘foot’ as leading returning scorer and point guard Sharaud Curry broke his foot in the preseason and might miss several of their early season games this November, including a trip to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Tip-off Classic where they open with Temple. However, one bit of good news, the Friars enter the season with a full collection of players and Welsh has his deepest backcourt since taking over at PC to at least temporarily cover for the loss of Curry. This remains an important season as PC needs to prove they can meet higher expectations and Welsh could use that momentum to score on his initial targets on the recruiting trail. The Friars have had good luck with identifying players under the recruiting radar, but that does not always work in this ultra-competitive Big East. This might be the season that defines and determines the Tim Welsh legacy at Providence College.

THE 2006-2007 SEASON:

The Friars will likely remember the 06-07 season as one that met the minimum of expectations, going 8-8 in the Big East and getting an invite to the NIT. However, the Friars never really seemed to do anything unexpected. A home win over Marquette was a nice start to the conference schedule and a win at Connecticut is always cherished by the Friar faithful, but letting winnable games at St. John’s, Seton Hall and Notre Dame as well as a home game with Syracuse slip away, many near the end of the schedule, again kept the Friars out of NCAA consideration.

The season also had its bad luck and subplots as Randall Hanke was injured in the preseason and then left school for the first semester. Freshman Jamal Barney disappeared from the bench in the first half of the season and left school, joining Gerald Brown, DeSean White, Dwight Brewington, Rob Sanders, etc of recent teams to also move on before eligibility expired. Then, just prior to the Big East season, Sharaud Curry was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Curry would be back after four games, with PC winning three of them, but it was another distraction to overcome.

The Friars started conference play looking very good, beating Marquette and romping back Seton Hall. Of course, in all too typical PC fashion, 11 days after crushing the Pirates 91-69, the Friars fell at SHU 69-68 and were back to 2-2 in the Big East. The rest of the way the Friars were never able to get more than a game over .500 in the league or fall more than a game under .500. Each time they had a chance to make a move or a statement, they came up short. The rest of the way, the only team PC beat in the league that had a winning conference record was WVU (9-7) and that came on their home floor.

In the post-season, nothing too surprising, the Friars lost their opening game in the Big East Tournament (92-79 to WVU) and in the NIT (OT at Bradley). That marked the fourth straight season PC had not one a game in the post-season, a streak that MUST end this year.

Providence only loses one contributor from last year’s squad. However, the graduation of Herbert Hill leaves some very big shoes to fill. Hill was an all-league performer last year, amassing 19.9 PPG and 9.8 rebounds a contest in Big East play. Those numbers represented 28% of PC’s offense and 26% of their scoring. Can Randall Hanke consistently provide the post presence that Hill gave the team last year?


Practice just officially began and Providence already has their first bad ‘break’ as Sharaud Curry is out with a broken foot for up to six weeks. Curry averaged 15 PPG and a 3.8 assists a contest for Tim Welsh’s crew last year. Without Hill and Curry, that is nearly 50% of their conference scoring from last year. The good news is that Curry should be back by mid-November with plenty of time to get into shape before the Big East. Curry is a scoring lead guard, but he still needs to show he can make his teammates better and distribute the ball on time. At times last year, it seemed the Frairs had a better offensive flow when the offense ran through Geoff McDermott, who lead PC with over 5 assists a game. However, injuries slowed McDermott down once again and Curry showed how valuable his scoring ability was, especially with his last minute heroics in a stirring last-second win over Cincinnati.

The PC backcourt also features high-flying junior Weyinmi Efejuku, who added 12 PPG and 4 rebounds a contest in conference play last season. One popular saying around PC was as Weyinmi goes, so does PC. In their eight league losses last year, Efejuku managed to score just 6.9 PPG and shoot a weak 29% from the floor. That means, in their eight wins, he averaged 17 PPG. See a pattern?

Also returning are sophomores Dwain Williams and Brian McKenzie. Williams filled in at point guard when Curry was suspended and did a more than adequate job. He battled some personal issues last year that seemed to have him ticketed out of town as the latest PC transfer, but he has stuck it out and shown some newfound dedication to his craft. He gives the backcourt very solid depth as he can both score and create from the lead guard position. McKenzie is an excellent shooter. Like most freshmen, that was not always evident as he learned he had to be able to be ready to capitalize on limited opportunities. Look for him to improve upon his 30% 3-pt shooting this season and be a weapon off the bench.

McKenzie will not be the lone perimeter scoring threat as Manhattan transfer and former Rhode Island High School star Jeff Xaiver is eligible after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Xaiver averaged over 16 PPG as a sophomore for the Jaspers and scored a career-high 31 at Maryland in a 1st round NIT win. Xavier hit 35% on 219 3-pt attempts and will try and give the Friars a steady hand from beyond the arc. Freshman Marshan Brooks, 6’5, 190 lbs, also gives the Friars depth in the backcourt and will gain valuable experience early on playing for Curry.


This is the area that will likely determine the level of success that Providence achieves this season. Herbert Hill was a surprise all-league performer last season, using his quickness and athleticism to score, rebound and defend in the post. Heading into the season, he was expected to share the post duties with Randal Hanke. However, Hanke broke a bone in his thumb in the preseason and then never returned to school until after the 1st semester and took a redshirt season. Hanke is a very interesting player this season. At times he shows flashes of brilliance, shooting a high percentage from the floor and running the floor for easy buckets. As a sophomore he averaged 13 PPG and shot 67.7% from the field. However, in Big East play that dropped to 10.9 PPG and he grabbed just 4.4 rebounds a contest. In fact, Hanke found himself on the bench often because of his lack of ability (or willingness) to play physical on the boards and defensively in the paint. He shot a high percentage (63%), but against teams that would put a body on him, his opportunities diminished because he was unable to establish or hold his position inside. Hopefully, a year away has allowed Hanke to mature physically and be ready to become a complete player in the paint for the Friars.

One of my favorite players in the Big East remains PC forward Geoff McDermott. The 6’7, 235 lb monster is one of the most versatile players in the conference. McDermott is a candidate to lead the league in both rebounding and assists. The likelihood of that happening would increase if he can stay healthy. The former football quarterback sometimes plays basketball likes he is on the gridiron, throwing his body around. As a frosh, he averaged 8.9 PPG, 9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. His scoring dipped in conference play to just 6.8 and he also lead the team in steals. A similar story as a sophomore as he averaged 9.5 PPG, 9.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists and the season and he led the team in steals once again. McDermott could team inside with junior Jonathan Kale to give the Friars a pair of bruising forwards to make-up for Hanke’s lack of physical performance. Kale averaged 7 PPG and 4.5 rebounds in conference play last year after moving into the starting line-up. Kale is a blue collar big man that knows his strengths and limitations and was the Friars best performer on a summer trip to Italy against top competition. He could be a break-out candidate this season. I have always liked his game and this could be the year he steps up his production and gives the Friars the toughness that they have lacked the last few seasons at times.

Rounding out the depth in the frontcourt is 6’7 small forward Charles Burch, the line scholarship senior on the squad. Burch battled back spasms last season, but he adds some experience to the mix off the bench. 7’0 Ray Hall is a big body to come off the bench and had some good moments as a freshman. He should also be improved and add to their depth as a sophomore. A pair of freshmen forwards are also in the mix: Alex Kellogg and Jamine Peterson. Kellogg is the son of Clark Kellogg, the former star that now works for CBS as a basketball analyst. Peterson could be the freshman most ready to contribute for the Friars. He is a tremendous athlete that will attack the rim any chance he gets. At 6’6, his perimeter skills still need a lot of work, but Peterson has no fear of attacking the basket on anyone. If they can harness some of his raw ability, he has a chance to make an immediate impact for PC this year.

2007-2008 PREDICTION:

There is no doubt in my mind that the Friars could and should finish better than 8th in the conference. However, they have to prove they can beat better competition and be consistent. Their experience and maturation from underclassmen to upperclassmen of their talented junior class should help this cause. However, something always seems to hinder their advancement in recent years. One can not help but think that Curry’s injury is just another stick in the spokes derailing the Friar progress.

There are plenty of positives for the Friars with a deep backcourt and a frontcourt that has the chance to be pretty good. They will need to find an identity this year and stick to it…either utilizing a deep backcourt, going a little smaller with three guards and the rugged forward duo of McDermott and Kale, or go with a bigger line-up with the skilled Hanke flanked by McDermott on the wing and Kale on the block. Finding the right combination will be key for their consistency this season.

I still want Tim Welsh and this crew to prove they are for real first. They definitely have the pieces, but past misses leave me a little leery of predicting a slam dunk for the Friars this year.




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