The black cloud is gone.
For the first time in years, Friar fans have something to be excited about. Keno Davis, the 2008 Coach of The Year has signed on as the Friars' new Men's Basketball Coach, bringing with him new energy and focus, something missing from the program in recent years.
Davis has the unenviable task of coaching in the Beg East conference, easily the toughest conference in the country in terms of competition as well as style of play. However, Coach Davis is confident that he can make his players rise to the occasion and compete with the best.
Along with the new coaching staff, the Friars will be playing in the newly renovated Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence. The state of the art arena will be sure to bring more excitement and intensity to the already exciting conference schedule.
The Friars have talent at most positions, but it has been getting that talent to work together that has been the problem in recent years. Far too many times, players have disappeared from games altogether, played lacadaisical defense, and not made the extra pass. This year is a fresh start for both Davis and the program, as the roster looks to be much different next year.
This year the Friars will feature six seniors in big-time roles which is much different from last year when the only senior was forward Charles Burch. Point guard Sharaud Curry, hampered by injuries last season, will remain a junior and extend his period of eligibility. Geoff McDermott was also injured last year and the Friars are counting on the senior forward to be a leader both as a scorer and as a rebounder.
Guard Weyinmi Efejuku also is facing a great deal of responsibility, as he is the barometer for the Friars. Throughout his entire career it seems that when he has a big game, the Friars usually come through with a win, as evidenced in his 26 point performance at UCONN two seasons ago.
However, he rarely plays with intensity when he is not scoring and struggles at times when guarding other quick and athletic Big East guards. Keno Davis has to correct this problem, as the explosive Efejuku is integral to the Friars success in the competitive Big East.
The Friars are buoyed by two sophomores who are key to the Friars' depth. Jamine Peterson, a 6-6 forward from Brooklyn averaged a menial 4.7 points last season and 2.9 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game.
Marshon Brooks, a 6-5 guard/forward from Georgia averaged nine minutes and scored 3.4 points per game, including two 15 point performances versus Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Both should see more minutes this year and will have to contribute especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Friars still have some glaring weaknesses on the team this season, most notably the center position. Senior Randall Hanke and junior Ray Hall must play the best basketball of their collegiate careers in order to give the Friars a chance in the smash mouth Big East Conference.
The Friars have been snake bitten by the underwhelming performances of both players over the years, as they have been exposed by the bigger and quicker centers and forwards in the Big East. Their offense is not as necessary to the Friars success as their defense is something that Keno Davis has to hammer home to both Hall and Hanke.
The Friars have an easy non-conference schedule, but will participate in the Anaheim Classic starting with a game against Baylor. They also will be playing in state rival URI at home after an embarrassing loss last year, as well as Boston College on the road.
Their Big East schedule is pretty much the same as last years, but the Friars will play back to back home games versus Notre Dame and Pittsburgh in the last week of February. Both of these games have potential NCAA tournament implications.
I expect a NCAA berth from Providence, as the Keno era begins with a bang.