At the small Big East school in Providence, Rhode Island, there is a team eager to prove that last year's 15-16 season was beneath its talents. The Providence College Friars men's basketball team is revamped and ready to charge toward a season that could unfold into a surprising success.
The team returns five seniors who have all played significant roles since coming to Providence, including Geoff McDermott and Jeff Xavier. They also have Weyinmi Efejuku, who has the ability to put together a senior season that could catapult him to the 2009 NBA Draft. The Friars' three other seniors are Randall Hanke, a 6'11" center with the ability to torture the glass, and Jonathan Kale, the beast of the paint.
The Friars have also added the 2008 Sporting News and Associated Press Coach of the Year in Keno Davis. Davis became a head coach in 2007 at Drake University and took a team picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference to a regular season championship and tournament championship. Drake also made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1971, as a No. 5 seed. Providence hired Davis on April 15, 2008, for a seven-year contract worth $7 million.
The last time this much anticipation was in Providence was when "Billy the Kid" Donovan teamed up with a young coach named Rick Pitino and together sparked a team that went to the 1987 NCAA Final Four.
This 2008-09 season could very well show the same exciting run that was made 21 years ago. The Friars have a team that goes nine- to 10-men deep and can shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. They will look to Davis to instill pressure defense and spread the floor out on the offensive side of the ball.
This team has the talent and could contest to be in the top six of the Big East when playing at its full potential, possibly making a run at the Final Four. To do this seems nearly impossible, right? Well, 21 years ago it seemed impossible to think Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan could make such magic happen in a little city, in a little state.
Prediction: If the Friars play at their absolute best, Elite Eight is within reach.