Saturday, January 31, 2009


January 31, 2009

Providence will look to earn their fifth straight win at UConn on Saturday afternoon, but the Huskies will look to treat their guests a little differently this time.

Providence improved to 6-2 in the Big East with their 100-94 win over Syracuse on Wednesday night. They will not be facing an team limping in like they did against the Orange, instead, they will be facing a UConn machine that has been humming along since opening conference play with a loss to Georgetown. The Huskies have run off eight consecutive wins and a ninth will likely propel them into the #1 spot in the polls come Monday.

Here are some pregame stories and previews:

Looking for a Big Basketball Game? Try Friars vs. UConn (Providence Journal)
Another Friar Roast (New Haven Register)
Providence Has Had UConn’s Number Past Several Years (Bristol Press)
Friars Visit UConn Today (Pawtucket Times)
Huskies-Friars Rivalry Always Intense (Norwich Bulletin)
First, There’s Providence (TheDay.com)

Things have fallen into place well for the Friars in the first half of conference play, but now is the time we will really see what they are made of. Not so much with a road trip to UConn, which is a tall order for any club, but this stretch of games ahead.

The win over Syracuse looks good on paper, but a deeper look shows that it was an Orange club not nearly at full strength, that is not the case with the Husky team they are seeing today.

“We’re looking forward to going on the road and trying to hang with them,” Keno Davis said this week during the conference call of coaches. “With UConn you’ve got a lot of guys that are going to be playing at the next level.”

The defensive ability and attention of a Jim Calhoun team will likely be much greater than what they saw against SU in their 100-94 win this week. While PC will have some confidence after their recent success against UConn, that will also provide plenty of incentive and motivation for the Huskies.

Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien will be very strong inside and the defense and quickness of the UConn guards should limit the PC backcourt. The Friars will look for the three-ball, but if it is not going in at a high rate, UConn will take this one going away and move into the No.1 spot in the polls on Monday.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 82
Providence 68


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Thursday, January 29, 2009


January 29, 2009

This is the one Providence needed and unlike others that came before, the Friars got the job done in a 100-94 win over Syracuse, a Friars Win that Can Not be Overlooked (Providence Journal) as Keno Davis puts together his program.

The win moves the Friars to 6-2 in the Big East while SU has now lost four of five and sit at 5-4 at the halfway point in conference play.

With a short-handed opponent, the Friars Run-and-Gun Game Shoots Down Syracuse (Providence Journal) as six Friars score in double figures, led by Sharaud Curry's 22 points. Syracuse got 35 points from Jonny Flynn and 27 from Eric Devendorf, but the Orange Comes Up Short in it's 'Must-Win' Game (Post-Standard) as Andy Rautins did not make the trip because of an ankle injury and Arinze Onuaku was limited to just 15 minutes of action where he did not score and grabbed one rebound. Onuaku Gave it a Go, But Knee Wouldn't Cooperate (Post-Standard) and the week off before their next game should help the tendonitis improve.

But, this night belonged to the Friars and their fired up crowd who supported their team and made sure Devendorf Heard it from the Crowd (Providence Journal).

Besides the 22 from Curry, Marshon Brooks (17), Geoff McDermott (15), Jonathan Kale (14), Weyinmi Efejuku (12) and Randall Hanke (12) also reached double figures. PC forced 21 turnovers by the Orange, nine charged to Devendorf, as the Orange is Fried (Post-Standard), seemingly mentally and physically.

A week off could not come soon enough for SU.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


January 28, 2009

Syracuse will limp into Providence banged up mentally, after losing three of their last four, and physically. It is unlikely Andy Rautins will play because of a sprained ankle and Arinze Onuaku will be a game time decision in regards to his availability.

The Friars have won five of their first seven conference games, but they still need to beat someone of significance. Their best win(s) this season have come against Cincinnati, whose RPI is 58. Their best non-league win is over Rhode Island (RPI of 62), so the Friars are desperate for a win to place on their resume. They have some opportunities in front of them as the date with the Orange kicks off a stretch of four games that has a road trip to UConn, home date with ‘Nova and a trip to West Virginia in succession.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the internet today:

Capsule Summary: Syracuse @ Providence (Providence Journal)
Rautins, Jones Out for SU (Observer-Dispatch)
Orange Scouting Report: SU vs. PC (Post-Standard)
Weakened SU Offers PC Opportunity (Providence Journal)
PC Hosts Syracuse Tonight (Pawtucket Times)
PC Hopes to Get Healthy Against Ailing Syracuse (Pro-Jo)

This could be a very telling game for the Keno Davis era at Providence. It seemed every so often the Tim Welsh-led Friars had an opportunity to get over a hump, but each time they were turned back by the powers of the conference. While the Orange are a little bit battered and bruised, the perception of a victory tonight can go a long way for the Friars as they try to carve out an identity in the Big East.

As noted earlier, PC needs a ‘quality’ win and the circumstances in earning such a victory probably could not be set up better. However, Syracuse will not make the snowy commute looking to hand over the game to the Friars. Led by Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris, the Orange backcourt has strength and firepower that will certainly test the PC group of Sharaud Curry, Weyinmi Efejuku and Jeff Xavier. Brian McKenzie and Marshon Brooks provide backcourt depth, which the Orange are without because of the Rautins injury and Mookie Jones and Antonio Jardine being out for the season.

The frontcourt match-up could be where tonight’s game is decided. Arinze Onuaku has experienced pain and swelling in his knee since the loss to Louisville on Sunday and has not practiced. They hope the 6-foot-9, 260-lb big man is able to give it a go. His size is a match-up that PC will have great trouble with. Jonathan Kale and Randall Hanke will be tasked with match-up up with him, but neither has the size and strength to out-muscle Onuaku when he gets position. The Orange also have long and athletic Rick Jackson at the power forward spot and he can also play in the middle to relieve (or replace) Onuaku. Jackson is not nearly as burly as Onuaku, but paired together they make the SU zone extremely tough. Geoff McDermott is the power forward for the Friars, not the tallest, but a rugged player that can handle and pass extremely well.

This game will likely come down to Onuaku’s effectiveness. If he can go and play 75-80% of his normal minutes, the Orange should find themselves in pretty good shape. However, losing Rautins saps their depth and their perimeter game, which you will see PC lining up three’s early and often. The combination of a missing Onuaku, or even a limited Arinze, and Rautins might be too much for SU to overcome against a very hyped PC club. Keno Davis will have to keep his players grounded, but he seems to have the laid back personality to prevent his team from getting too tight. With the latest college basketball odds listing PC as a 1 ½-point favorite, this could be the game they can add to their resume.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 75
Syracuse 68


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Friday, January 23, 2009


January 23, 2009

The losses continue to pile up for Seton Hall as they let a very winnable game against Providence virtually slip through their fingers in the last possession of regulation as the Friars escape Newark (NJ) with a 98-93 overtime victory.

In what seemed like a game of Survivor, the Friars Outlast and Outwit SHU by attacking the basket and causing three Pirates to be DQ'd because of fouls (Paul Gause, Robert Mitchell and John Garcia), eliminating nearly any chance SHU had in the extra session.

With both teams settling for perimter jumpers in the first half, PC went to the foul line six times compared to five for SHU. Late in the game and in overtime, PC went to attacking the basket and finished 31-42 from the foul line, including 14 (all their points) of 16 in overtime. The Pirates were just 12-22 from the line, including several misses in the final minutes of regulation as Seton Hall Losses to Providence (Star Ledger).

PC have been stung by many close losses in the Big East the last few years, maybe now the Friars are Learning to Assert Themselves in the Big East (Providence Journal. At 5-2 in Big East play, So Far, So Good, but Schedule Gets Tough for PC (Providence Journal) with Syracuse, Connecticut, Villanova and West Virginia representing an upcoming gauntlet.

Jeff Xaiver led PC with 20 points, including five of seven three's. Weyinmi Efejuku added 19 points, Marshon Brooks added 14, Jonathan Kale had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Sharaud Curry added 13 points in PC's balanced attack. Geoff McDermott (9 points) connected on the final of two free throws with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 84.

Seton Hall had a chance to win in regulation after McDermott's free throw, but Eugene Harvey (11 points, 7 assists) was stripped of the ball and SHU did not get a shot, or a pass, off in the final posession. It was a strange play, as Harvey casually brough the ball up the court as the other Pirates watched. SHU looked totally unprepared for a game-end situation, and they had a timeout remaining...

Jeremy Hazell scored 30 for the Pirates and hit three's in bunches to help SHU rally from deficits of 14 (ist half) and 8 (second half) quickly. Robert Mitchell had 20, but was just 10-24 from the floor before fouling out. Paul Gause was excellent with 19 points (6-7 from field and 5-6 from '3') as well as 6 rebounds and 6 assists.


-Seton Hall is 0-6 in the Big East. Worst start in conference play since 0-7 in 1985-1986. They hope to avoid that fate with a home date against ranked Georgetown on Saturday.

-NJIT has more wins in 2009 than SHU and Rutgers, the state of New Jersey reps of the Big East, combined. The Pirates and Knights are both 0-6 in league play.

-PC held a 41-30 rebounding edge and connected on 11-20 three's.


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Thursday, January 22, 2009


January 22, 2009

The Prudential Center in Newark (NJ) is the site to an interesting Big East contest tipping off at 7 PM. The Providence Friars, who were victorious on their home court over Cincinnati on Monday, return to action to meet the Seton Hall Pirates, who are getting desperate for a win.

The Friars completed a two-game sweep of Cincinnati this season as the rebounded from a disappointing loss at home Saturday night against Marquette, where they squandered a 13-point lead.

The Friars bounced back on an extremely short turn-around to get a win over Cincinnati to keep their conference record above .500. A road win tonight would give PC a little cushion ahead of a demanding three game stretch with games against Syracuse, Connecticut and their first of two with Villanova.

For the Pirates, they have lost seven of eight games after a surprising 8-1 start to their season. The losses were not limited to the Big East either as IUPUI came into the Prudential Center and won and they dropped a road game to James Madison. With a winnable stretch of games ahead, finding confidence in being able to win in the Big East will be a must.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on tonight’s game:

Xavier’s Toughness no Lost on SHU’s Gonzalez (Providence Journal)
PC at Seton Hall Preview (Providence Journal)

Here are two teams that are probably a little bit glad to see each other. Neither team tends to match-up very well with the brute force of many of the Big East’s top teams and both would rather get out and push the pedal to the medal a bit offensively and score some points.

With that, defense and rebounding will likely decide the winner and which team accepts the call to dictate the game in those areas will likely come out on top.

I actually believe that Providence does put their effort in on the defensive side of the ball. It will be challenged as Seton Hall will look to outscore them, but players like Geoff McDermott, Weyinmi Efejuku and Sharaud Curry have the potential to make life tough for Robert Mitchell, Jeremy Hazell and Eugene Harvey to get their points. No doubt they will get their points, but making them work a little harder for it will make Providence find it easier to get their own points.

PC will also find a little more consistency with their inside game as Randall Hanke and Jonathan Kale, while nothing exciting or special, will play consistent roles in this game. Mike Davis, John Garcia and Brandon Walters certainly could produce and play key roles, but nobody has an idea from game to game what the SHU plan is with the trio.

The linesmakers have the Friars as a slight 1 ½ point favorite. They have more depth and have shown the ability to rise defensively and on the boards to win this year in Big East play. Seton Hall, although they have played tougher teams, have yet to do so. So, until they show it…we will go with the Friars.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 80
Seton Hall 74


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Big East snuck another game onto Monday night's schedule as Cincinnati and Providence completed their home and home series. The result was very familiar to the first meeting on January 7th as the Friars Bear Down and come out on top, this time by a 72-63 score.

Senior Randall Hanke Fuels Friars' Second-Half Charge past UC (Providence Journal), scoring 11 of his 15 points after intermission. With the score kntted at 38-all with 14:38 left, the Bearcats Fade in Second Half (Cincinnati Enquirer) as Deonta Vaughn can't get on track offensively while the Friars finally do.

PC made Vaughn the focal point of their defensive scheme and Deonta Can't Have Way (Enquirer) and was held to just six points on 3-9 shooting and he committed five turnovers.

Also supporting Hanke was Jonathan Kale with 14 points and 7 rebounds and Geoff McDermott stuffed the stat sheet full with 7 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks.

Mike Williams led UC with 21 points, but with Vaughn and freshman Yancy Gates (6-17 from the floor) struggling, the Bearcats did not have enough offense and fell to a disappointing 2-4 in the conference.

The win pushed the Friars to a 4-2 mark in the Big East.


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Monday, January 19, 2009


January 19, 2009

While the the match-up between Cincinnati and Providence might not have Big East title implications like the other Monday night match-up in the league (see Pitt-SU), this is a game that could define the race of one team emerging from the bottom-half of the league to poke it's head into the upper half.

After a 3-0 conference start, which included an 87-79 win at Cincinnati, the Friars have dropped two straight, at Georgetown and a home loss Saturday night against Marquette. The Bearcats, on the other hand, have won two straight after starting 0-3 in the conference, getting a win over Rutgers and a road win against DePaul in the last week.

Here are the pregame stories and previews found on the web:

Bearcats Eager for Another Shot (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Gates Solid off Bench (Enquirer)
PC vs Cincinnati Scouting Report (Providence Journal)
PC Looking to Move On (Providence Journal)
PC Still Reeling from Incident Involving Jeff Xavier's Brother (Providence Journal).

The key to Cincinnati's recent two-game winning streak has been achieved on the defensive end. After allowing an average of 84 points a game, including 87 to PC on the Bearcats' home court, in their three conference losses, UC has yielded just 57 a game in their two wins. However, nobody will confuse the offenses at DePaul or Rutgers with UConn, Notre Dame, SU or even PC. So, their defensive improvement will be tested tonight.

The Friars looked for a first statement win on Saturday when they hosted Marquette and looked to be on their way by leading much of the game. However, a late run by the Golden Eagles flipped the game around and PC found themselves on the short-end of a 91-82 decision in a contest between the two first-year Big East coaches in the league.

However, PC might be without one of their biggest weapons tonight as Jeff Xavier was injured by an inadvertant elbow to the eye by Marquette's Joseph Fulce. There was no foul called on the play and it set off a wild scene as a fans came out onto the court in an attempt to confront a referee before being removed by security. The fan was later identified as Jonathan Xavier, the older brother of PC's senior guard. Jeff Xavier did not return to the game after the elbow and is unlikely to play tonight and the incident from Saturday could still be on his mind as well. Jonathan Xavier was arrested and will have to appear back in court in the near future.

So, PC must now move on and face the Bearcats. UC was surprised by the Friars on their home floor as PC hit 12 of 24 three's and shot 54% overall. Xavier was three of five from the arc and scored 12. Deonta Vaughn and Mike Williams each scored 20 in the game for UC and Williams' emergence as a consistent scoring option to supplement Vaughn is a large reason to look for Cincinnati to continue to improve in the season. There defense is still a concern as it has not come together like it did last season yet, so PC should be able to get enough offense to get past Mick Crinin's club tonight. The Friars are listed as 6 1/2-point favorites.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Providence 76
Cincinnati 68


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Friday, January 16, 2009


January 17, 2009

Marquette will put their undefeated 4-0 conference record on the line when they travel to Providence for a 9 PM game with the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Friars are off to a 3-1 start in the Big East and look to capture their most impressive win of the season.

Marquette Guard Troika a Force for Friars to Reckon With (Providence Journal)
PC Hosts Marquette Tonight (Pawtucket Times)
Marquette Travels to Providence on Saturday (Cracked Sidewalks)
Williams Off-Beat Approach Working for Marquette (Chicago Tribune)
James Thrives in Shutdown Mode (Journal-Sentinel)

Two of the more experienced teams in the Big East will be featured in this contest. Marquette has the three senior guard line-up and PC has five seniors, a redshirt junior and another junior at the top of their rotation.

The Golden Eagles will look to use their guard trio of Dominic James, Wesley Mathews and Jerel McNeal to get up into Sharaud Curry and the PC perimeter snipers of Jeff Xavier and Brian McKenzie to throw the Friars out of their offensive rhythm. The Friars have some size, but they do not always effectively use it and the Marquette perimeter pressure is aimed at making it difficult for opponents to exploit a weakness of MU.

Every year, PC surprises at least one team on their home floor. It is usually done so with accurate three-point shooting, but in this match-up, look for the Golden Eagle guards to defend the perimeter in shutdown mode and see if the guards of PC can create for the big men inside.

Without a strong post defender, I expect the Marquette guards to be able to get into the lane and score often. A sagging zone is the best defense against MU, but they have been shooting very well of late, too. Look for the Golden Eagles to continue their strong start in conference play with a solid road win in Rhode Island.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 74
Providence 69


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Saturday, January 10, 2009


January 10, 2009

Georgetown returns home on Saturday afternoon as they welcome the Providence Friars to the Verizon Center for a 1 PM tip-off. The Friars have started out of the Big East gate very strong at 3-0, highlighted by their win at Cincinnati this week. The schedule gets tougher today in DC, but overall, PC has a ‘favorable’ conference schedule to make things interesting.

The Hoyas look to get back on track after consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and at Notre Dame. Georgetown made everyone take notice when they opened Big East play with a win at Connecticut, but that memory has quickly faded after consecutive losses pushing them to 1-2 in the unforgiving conference.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from the internet this morning:

Capsule Summary: PC at Georgetown (Providence Journal)
Sharaud Curry Has Been a Big Contributor in Big East for PC (Providence Journal)

The Friars have been adjusting to the new three-point distance and used a 12-24 shooting effort from the arc against the Bearcats for an important road win. The Friars have established themselves as the clear sleeper from the bottom half of the conference that will be in contention to steal an NCAA bid with a strong showing this winter and a favorable schedule.

The Friars are also a veteran-heavy club under new coach Keno Davis. Seniors Weyinmi Efejuku, Jeff Xavier, Geoff McDermott, Randall Hanke and Jonathan Kale team with redshirt junior Sharaud Curry to form a very good nucleus.

Georgetown is not deep nor experienced and that has shown in losses to Pitt and Notre Dame in their last two games. The decision making from the lead guard position and the attention to detail in their defense and on the boards have been lacking, which is typical for a young team. The lack of depth, especially in the frontcourt, has greatly hampered the Hoyas as well.

There is talent at Georgetown, high-end talent, with Chris Wright, DaJuan Summers, Austin Freeman, Jesse Sapp and super Frosh Greg Monroe. The public really believes in that talent as the latest college basketball odds have the Hoyas as 11 ½ point favorites, which seems a bit high against a confident and experienced PC club.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Georgetown 69
Providence 61


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


January 7, 2009

COMMITMENT ALERT: Vincent Council, 6-foot-1 PG from Brooklyn, current attending Patterson (NC) School

Keno Davis continues to re-shape the future Providence basketball roster as the Friars Strike Again with Vincent Council (Providence Journal) on the recruiting trail.

Projected 2009-2010 Roster

Seniors: Sharaud Curry (PG), Brian McKenzie (SG)
Juniors: Jamine Peterson* (F), Marshon Brooks (G), Alex Kellogg (F), Kyle Wright (G/F)
Sophomres: Bilal Dixon** (F)
Freshmen: Antoine Allen*** (G), Duke Mondy (G), Kadeem Batts (PF), James Still (C), Johhnie Lacy (PG), Vincent Council (PG)

* Expected to redshirt the 2008-2009 season which would place him as a sophomore on the 2009-2010 roster

** possible 2008-2009 redshirt which would place his as a freshman on the 2009-2010 roster

*** is currently a verbal commitment, but did not sign in the fall and is unlikely to end up at PC

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One of the quickest ways a new coach can resurrect the program he inherits and increase the of success is finding the perfect point guard to run his system. Keno Davis believes he has succeeded in such a quest by adding two candidates now in the 2009 class to fill that roll. Yesterday, the first year PC head coach received a verbal commitment from Brooklyn native Vincent Council and, along with the last minute signing of Johnnie Lacy in the early signing period, the Friars should have their backcourt of the future.

Council has been gaining more and more recruiting interest as a prep student at the Patterson School in North Carolina. Playing for coach Chris Chaney at the high profile school, Council picked up serious recruiting interest from Rutgers, UCF and Arkansas.

Council is a tough point guard with good size for the Big East in the typical NYC point guard mold. Council previously attended Lincoln HS in NYC where he was a tammate of Lance Stephenson, among others, on a very highly successful team.

The addition of Lacy further indicates that Antoine Allen, who was verbally committed to the Friars through the summer, although he did not sign a LOI in November, is not part of the immediate plans for PC. As the signing period passed, it was noted by Allen's prep coach at Notre Dame Prep that he had academic work to accomplish before he could think about signing a commitment with a school. Council, if he signs, would be the sixth member of the incomign class and take up the final open scholarship that is currently availanle, leaving Allen on the outisde.

Lacy, a native of Milwaukee (WI) is a jet-quick point guard that is finishing up his prep career at, incidentally, Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg (MA). In the uptempo attack that Davis hopes to install with the Friars, having a point guard with the jets that Lacy possesses is a must. Lacy will be asked to push the ball and find the shooters on the wing that Davis will hope to have lined up for him, similar to the attack he used at Drake last season. Over the summer, Lacy played very well for the Playground Elite AAU team and had been hearing from schools such as Tennessee, Marquette, Minnesota, Purdue and Cincinnati during the recruiting process.

Council and Lacy offer a different skill set and compliment each other in their style, so they could play together in the future backcourt.

The recruiting action around the Providence Friar program happened fast and furious this past fall as Keno Davis locked up six commitments for the class of 2009. Prior to Lacy and Council capping off the class, Detroit big man James Still was the latest addition to the program. Still is a 6-foot-10 center from Community High School in Detroit and averaged over 14 points and 12 rebounds as a junior. Still visited PC backin September and chose the Friars over Duquesne and Detroit. Still is an athletic big man that is very comfortable running the floor and stepping away from the basket.

Still needs to get stronger to battle in the paint in Big East match-ups. He has a lot of potential because of a high skill level and the ability to move well at 6'10. His best days are certainly ahead of him on the basketball court.

Just prior to Still, Monroe College wing Kyle Wright, who originally began his career at Stony Brook and spent last year as a redshirt with Colorado, committed to PC. Wright previously prepped at Brewster Academy where he played for coach Jason Smith at the New England prep power.

After Brewster, Wright spent one season at Stony Brook where he averaged just under three points a game, appearing in 23 contests and averaging nearly 11 minutes a game. Wright is a skilled backcourt player that has versatility and can shoot it from long range, a skill that fits well in Keno Davis' preferred system. for more on Wright, see the story on the Newest Friar: Kyle Wright.

Earlier this fall PC got a little bigger by receiving a verbal commitment from Kadeem Batts out of Powder Springs (GA) while he was on an official visit to the school. In the July evaluation period, Batts turned heads playing for the Smyrna Stars and had several high-major schools checking him out. The NBE Basketball Report was impressed with Batts' play this summer on Wednesday at the Reebok All-American Camp where he showed the tools necessary to compete in the Big East. Batts is athletic and with a strong body can mix it up inside on the boards and defensively he can block and alter shots. He also showed his offensive game is coming around as well, too.

The commitment from Batts came just a week after another commitment from a campus visit came from Michigan native Duke Mondy. Mondy is a 6-foot-3 guard out of Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids (MI). As a junior, Mondy averaged about 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for coach TJ Carnegie at Catholic Central and his Coach Had Nothing but Praise for Mondy on and off the court.

Mondy had already been familiar with coach Davis prior to him taking the PC head coaching job last April as Davis was recruiting Mondy to Drake, where he was previously the head coach. Mondy decided on Providence over Western Michigan and also had offers from Ohio, Toledo, Central Michigan and others.

The Friars are also keeping a watchful eye on the class of 2010 as interest has been evident in players such as NYC's David Coley, BF Carson Desrosiers of Lawrence (MA), Evan Smotrycz of the New Hampton School and NJ products such as guard Isaiah Epps, Tilton School guard Gerard Coleman and small forward Shaquille Thomas.

The current PC staff, led by hard-working assistant Pat Skerry, have been working the New England prep schools really hard and recently welcomed Coleman, Smotrycz, class of 2011 guard Naadir Tharpe of Brewster Academy and highly regarded 2012 recruit Nerlins Noel of Everett (MA) High School who already stands 6'8, to campus when PC played DePaul in a Big East conference match-up.

Desrosiers and Coleman seem to be getting the most attention from PC in the class of 2010, according to a recent Providence Journal article. Desrosiers was expected to visit recently as well, but was ill.

With many positions open to fill, we expect the PC recruiting news to be plentiful this fall as Keno Davis looks to make his mark on the Providence program and Big East recruiting battles. We will follow these stories closely as they begin to develop.


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January 7, 2009

Providence will put their 2-0 Big East record on the line when they travel to Cincinnati for a conference match-up tonight. The Bearcats found Big East play not to their liking as they were blown out, 84-50, in their conference opener on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some preview articles and game stories found on the internet this morning about this match-up:

UC Must Rebound From Back-to-Back Shellackings (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Davis Finds Big East’s a Beast (DesMoinesRegister.com)
Capsule Preview: PC at Cincy (Providence Journal)
Friars Claim No Expectations Means no Pressure (Providence Journal)

Providence has done what they needed in opening conference play with wins over St. John’s (75-54) and DePaul (62-54) at home. Now the Friars hit the road to battle Cincinnati in a very interesting game as each team looks to gain footing in the middle of the conference. PC and UC meet twice in 12 days with the Friars playing Marquette and Georgetown in between while the Bearcats will look to gain some momentum as they have UConn up next, then DePaul and Rutgers before the PC rematch.

Prior to tonight’s game, Providence has played one true road game, an 81-76 loss at Boston College. Defense and rebounding are key components to winning on the road in a conference such as the Big East and those traits have never been very consistent with the Friars. Keno Davis is trying to change that, but he is dealing with the hand that is dealt. The Keno Davis offense is centered around a point guard who can distribute to open shooters spreading the floor. PC has Sharaud Curry back at point guard and rounding back into his past form each and every game. Wing snipers such as Jeff Xavier and Brian McKenzie offer excellent three-point shooting potential, although the long-range shooting of the Friars has been missing often away from home. Weyinmi Efejuku is an athletic guard that loves to attack the rim and is also capable of connecting from deep. Where the Friars success will ultimately be decided will be how hard the frontcourt comes to play against a deeper group of UC bigs.

The Bearcats opened up Big East play by being pasted by Marquette, 84-50, on the road as the Golden Eagles lit them up from the perimeter. In their game prior to that, UC lost 60-45 on the road to Memphis, so their offensive struggles are evident. In the loss to MU, Deonta Vaughn was held scoreless for the first time in his three-year UC career. The Bearcats will not win in this league without Vaughn driving their offensive production.

The Bearcats have improved their frontcourt depth with Yancy Gates, Steven Toyloy and Mike Williams being added to the rotation this season along with returning sophomore Anthony McClain. Still, finding a consistent supplement offensively to Vaughn is what UC needs the most and it continues to be lacking this season once again.

College basketball betting odds show UC is a 3 ½-point home favorite against the Friars. After a couple rough outings, we look for the UC defensive pressure to be picked up a notch and for their bigger frontcourt to control the paint against PC. Both teams are likely to be rather evenly matched, but the added motivation and attention to get back to defense and rebounding for Mick Cronin’s squad in this game should be the difference.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Cincinnati 66
Providence 61


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Saturday, January 03, 2009


January 3, 2009

The Providence Friars got out of the Big East gates quickly under new head coach Keno Davis with a 21-point win over the undermanned St. John’s Redstorm. PC will look to go 2-0 in conference play when they host DePaul on Saturday night.

The Blue Demons hope to avoid an 0-2 conference start as they dropped their opener in conference play to Notre Dame on Wednesday at Allstate Arena 92-82. Mac Koshwal had 26 and Dar Tucker 24 in the loss, but DePaul continues to lack help for their two big scorers.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the web:

Davis Comfortable Redshirting Two for Rest of Season (Providence Journal)
Jabari Currie Giving DePaul Third Scoring Option (Chicago Tribune)
The Providence X-Factor

Coming into the season, Providence was regarded as a conference darkhorse to be in you March Madness betting pool when all was said and done this season. The pre-conference schedule did not really help PC out a whole lot as they missed their opportunities to collect any wins that would stand out on a NCAA Tournament resume. However, if they can start out 2-0 in the Big East and begin building some confidence and getting more comfortable in what coach Davis and his staff are looking for, PC can still make a run.

They have an experienced point guard in Sharaud Curry who looks to be rounding back into form after missing all but 8 minutes last season. They have some dangerous perimeter shooters in Brian McKenzie and Jeff Xavier and dangerous wings in Marshon Brooks and Weyinmi Efejuku. PC still needs to be tougher inside, although Geoff McDermott will battle anyone, with Randall Hanke and Jonathan Kale playing both ends of the floor in the paint. There are some pieces…we expect some better wins soon from the Friars.

For now, they need to settle for beating the teams they should beat. And the Blue Demons are such a squad. Whiel Mac Koshwal and Dar Tucker are impressive individual talents, Jerry Wainwright still has not found a way to maximize their talents to make the rest of the team better and produce better results on the court, especially in the Big East. Tucker and Koshwal might be able to carry their team to a win on occasion, but in the Big East, that is a tall, tall order.

The Friars are a 10.5–point favorite to go 2-0 in Big East play…they should come out on top in this one.


Providence 76
DePaul 67


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Friday, January 02, 2009


by Zach Smart

When Bobby Gonzalez exited Manhattan College, a torrent of talent went with him.

Gonzalez, who now coaches at Seton Hall, was at the helm during Manhattan College’s version of Pax Romana. During this prosperous hoops era, Gonzalez elevated a team caught in the trenches of obscurity and got them some national visibility.

He scoured hoop hotbeds for top-flight recruits and the Jaspers went 129-77 under Gonzalez’ reign.

Bobby G’s stay at Riverdale was underscored by two NCAA tournament berths and a thrilling upset over then No.5-ranked Florida in the opening round.

One trio of Gonzalez recruits now playing under different systems are C.J. Anderson (Xavier), C.J. Lee (Michigan), and Providence’s Jeff Xavier.

All three made the decision to fill out transfer waivers after their coach took the Seton Hall job. Now fifth-year seniors, all three players have wood-cut a niche for themselves in their respective programs.

Lee, who plays second fiddle to one of the best players in the nation in Michigan guard Manny Harris. Lee recently told the New York Post that he couldn’t have asked for a better decision his early departure from Riverdale.

Jaspet Living Michigan Dream

Lee, a Pittsford, N.Y. native, is content with being relegated to cheerleader role, though he does get his occasional burn. Still, he’s playing on a team that’s put itself on the map this year and is the embodiment of a “rather look bad and win than look good and lose player” that’s talked of in White Men Can’t Jump.

Anderson and Xavier, however, have been significant cogs on both Xavier and Providence. Anderson, guy the Jaspers looked to in crunch time, is averaging 10.8 points and 5.3 points for the formidable, no.2 Muskateers.

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For Xavier, Gonzalez’ departure essentially presented a detour back to his old stomping grounds. The Pawtucket, R.I. native starred at St. Raphael Academy, where he averaged 28 points as a junior and 26 as a senior.

He stamped his imprint his senior year, being named to the all-tournament team at the prestigious National Prep Showcase and being named 2004 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Rhode Island.

This season, Xavier is an elderstatesman for a team striving for a tournament bid in perhaps the nation’s toughest conference. Xavier has been feast or famine shooting the ball, shooting 38-for-115 from the floor. He’s hit just 18-for-76 from the perimeter.

Xavier erupted during an early-season drubbing of Maine, canning 5-for-10 from three-point land and scoring 23 points. In other games, however, Xavier has disappeared into the fray and become a non-factor.

The streaky shootist broke out of a paltry 4-for-23 funk with 15 and 16 point showings against Jackson State and Boston College, respectively.

In the Friars’ recent win over St. John’s, Xavier played a solid all-around game. He hauled down six boards and handed out six assists, but he shot just 2-for-8 for five points.

After averaging 12.8 points last season, Xavier’s numbers are down. With the emergence of Marshon Brooks, however, the Providence offense has become more well-balanced. Still, Xavier will need to get back into his quick-strike sniping ways if he’s to morph back into the X-factor.

You know, the one that Bobby Gonzalez once actively pursued out of Rhode Island back in 2004?


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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Friars Blitz Johnnies In Blizzard

By Zach Smart

Providence— Norm Roberts knows they are no “easy outs” this season.

Those games were taken care of before Big East play kicked off. The Johnnies got off to their best start since the 1994-95 season by scoring victories in guarantee games against a groundbreaking bad NJIT and other smurf-size programs.

So, heading into the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence Friday night, he knew his team would need to be at full force. With point guard Malik Boothe, go-to-guy Anthony Mason Jr. sidelined with injuries, and freakishly athletic forward Justin Burrell fresh off a nagging injury, the Johnnies were nothing short of...well...shorthanded.

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The absence of these three vital cogs, along with an ineffective five minutes from the ever-soft 6-foot-11, 265-pound Center Tomas Jasiulonis (scoreless with one board as he continues to be on a short chain in Roberts' system this season) presented a gap wider than the Sargasso Sea.

Randall Hanke turned in his best performance of the season, and the Friars' mauled the Johnnies to the beat of 75-54.

It was as much as the Friar fans, who braved the snow and arctic, jam-packed highway roads to get the game, could have asked of their senior center. Providence, which improves to 9-4, had been waiting for a breakout game of that type from Hanke.

NBE predicted the Friars would stamp a 73-63 victory. Hanke's performance, however, ran parallel with the Friars' dismantling of the Johnnies, who hope to revive an ailing program this season.

Hanke scored a season-high 17 points in just 18 minutes, hitting his shots at a 7-for-10 clip.

The towering 7-foot Center scored with ease, getting his first two point on a layup off a deft feed from Jeff Xavier.

Hanke added a pair of free throws and then connected on a jumper, followed by a quick lay-in. The back-to-back buckets helped keep the momentum rolling as Providence, which withstood an early 11-0 Red Storm run, held a 33-25 edge at the intermission.

The Friars upped the lead to 40-27 early in the second, reeling off a swift 6-0 run following a Paris Horne bucket. The head-spinning run prompted Roberts to call for a 30-second timeout.

The lead ballooned to 65-47 after a 7-0 run.

The spurt featured five points from Hanke and culminated with a trifecta from Weyinmi Efejuku (thank God I wasn’t announcing this game).

The snowstorm outside the gym, one which left more empty seats than a box office snooze-show (the summer flick “College” was terrible by the way, almost as bad as “Eurotrip”), ran parallel to the perfect storm inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

With Marshon Brooks (15 points) scoring nine points and helped facilitate a titanic 29-8 run.

The run left Roberts irate and gave the Friars a 29-19 lead that they wouldn’t squander.

Sheraud Curry, who scored 16 points and had eight dimes, was exceptional. He was a major part of every spurt and gave an efficient account of himself.

Geoff McDermott, who hands out assists like a fraternity house hands out cups of jungle juice, snared nine boards and Jonathan Kale chipped in with 10 points.

The lack of a bench and abysmal life from beyond the arc (2-for-17) hurt St. John’s, which was led by Sean Evans and Paris Horne.

Both players paced the Johnnies with 16 points apiece.


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