Italy trip has Fri­ars ahead of curve

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PROV­I­DENCE – Most col­lege bas­ket­ball coaches would fret at the prospect of stag­ing Late Night Mad­ness fes­tiv­i­ties one week, then play­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion game the fol­low­ing week. Not Ed Coo­ley.

On Fri­day, Coo­ley and his Prov­i­dence Fri­ars con­ducted their 11th pre­sea­son prac­tice. For com­par­i­son’s sake, it wasn’t un­til the 48th prac­tice of the 2017-18 be­fore ev­ery­thing was im­ple­mented. Get­ting ahead of the curve at a time when teams are still scratch­ing the sur­face stems from PC stag­ing 10 prac­tices be­fore head­ing to Italy for a four-game swing in Au­gust. Since re­turn­ing, the fo­cus has been to build upon the frame­work that was made pos­si­ble by tak­ing an over­seas trip.

“We are a lit­tle bit ahead from where we were last year,” Coo­ley said. “(Italy) def­i­nitely helped.”

“To have a cou­ple of games be­fore the real sea­son ar­rives is re­ally ben­e­fi­cial,” said ju­nior big man Kalif Young.

Get­ting an ad­vanced start on the new sea­son has proven to be advantageous in ar­eas be­sides the all-im­por­tant X’s and O’s. Coo­ley has been able to spend a con­sid­er­able amount of time around his play­ers away from the court, thus the coach has been able to take the tem­per­a­ture of what makes the eighth team of his Friar ten­ure tick.

“This group is a lit­tle bit more en­er­getic. There’s a lit­tle more spirit as far as guys be­ing out­go­ing … fun­nier guys and dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties,” Coo­ley said. “They’re younger so they’re a lit­tle bit more ea­ger to learn. I like the fact that they smile a lot.”

Added Young, “The ath­leti­cism … I think guys are will­ing to work and get into the gym. They love be­ing here and that helps build unity.”

On Fri­day night, PC of­fi­cials an­nounced that due to the death of stu­dent on Thurs­day, the de­ci­sion was made to can­cel the an­nual Late Night Mad­ness cel­e­bra­tion that was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Satur­day night.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the fam­ily,” said PC ath­letic di­rec­tor Bob Driscoll in a state­ment. “Our cam­pus com­mu­nity is griev­ing and out of re­spect for the young man and his fam­ily, we have made the ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sion to can­cel Late Night Mad­ness.”

This might be hard to fathom, but Prov­i­dence’s first ex­hi­bi­tion game is next Fri­day night (Oct. 19) against the Uni­ver­sity of Bridge­port at the Dunkin’ Donuts Cen­ter. With that in mind, here are some pre­sea­son top­ics of note:

• Coo­ley was asked if this year’s Prov­i­dence team re­sem­bles a po­si­tion-less unit that’s be­come the rage in to­day’s bas­ket­ball cul­ture.

“I would say that and that’s what we aim for in re­cruit­ing. The game is chang­ing where you’re try­ing to find guys be­tween 6-5 and 6-9 who are in­ter­change­able. That’s why you see teams that are hard to guard like the Celtics and the War­riors,” Coo­ley said. “You can put any­one at the five or the one and kind of en­joy it from there.”

It was late in games last sea­son when Coo­ley would move Rod­ney Bul­lock to cen­ter. The switch al­lowed Alpha Diallo to shift into an­other gear and en­abled the swing­man to op­er­ate in spots where Bul­lock pre­ferred to set up shop.

With this team, Coo­ley ex­pressed con­fi­dence that he’ll

LEAGUE CHAM­PI­ONSHIP SE­RIES

Amer­i­can League All Games on TBS

Hous­ton vs. Bos­ton

Satur­day, Oct. 13: Hous­ton (Ver­lan­der 169) at Bos­ton (Sale 12-4), 8:09 p.m. Sun­day, Oct. 14: Hous­ton (Cole 15-5) Bos­ton (Price 16-7), 7:09 p.m. Tues­day, Oct. 16: Bos­ton at Hous­ton, 5:09 p.m.

Wed­nes­day,

8:39 p.m. x-Thurs­day,

8:09 p.m. x-Satur­day,

5:09 p.m. x-Sun­day, Oct. 21: Hous­ton at Bos­ton, 7:39 Oct. Oct. Oct. 17: Bos­ton 18: 20: Bos­ton at Hous­ton, at Hous­ton Hous­ton, at at Bos­ton, iso­late play­ers on cer­tain parts of the floor that were for­eign in the past. Again, that goes back to the makeup of the per­son­nel with Fri­ars pre­vi­ously lauded for their ver­sa­til­ity like Diallo, Isa­iah Jackson, and Em­mitt Holt are now joined by new­com­ers like A.J. Reeves and Jimmy Ni­chols.

• Speak­ing of Holt, Coo­ley says the red­shirt se­nior “is com­ing along. His body is get­ting stronger. His per­son­al­ity is al­ways great. He’s one of the more en­er­getic and spir­ited guys on the team. We’re go­ing to need Em­mitt if we’re go­ing to be a post­sea­son team.”

Holt eyes a come­back af­ter sit­ting out last sea­son due to ab­dom­i­nal is­sues that re­quired surgery.

• The Fri­ars are still in the process of set­tling into their brand new on-cam­pus prac­tice digs, the Ruane Friar De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter. With all the bells and whis­tles at the player’s dis­posal – there’s a kitchen in the same area where the play­ers will gather to study – the last thing that Coo­ley wants is com­pla­cency to wash over his group.

“We’re get­ting com­fort­able with the fun­da­men­tals of the build­ing ev­ery day, but I don’t want the play­ers to be too com­fort­able. I want them to be edgy and hun­gry,” Coo­ley said, “but they’re en­joy­ing it and re­ally max­i­miz­ing it. ”

“I’m lucky to get a cou­ple of years in here,” Young said.

• It’s one thing to hear re­cruit­ing pitches from the coach­ing staff, yet Coo­ley summed it up per­fectly when asked about the role the cur­rent play­ers play when­ever a Friar tar­get is vis­it­ing.

“Play­ers get play­ers,” Coo­ley said.

At PC, Coo­ley will se­lect a player from the cur­rent ros­ter and as­sign him to a high school prospect who’s on an of­fi­cial visit. When Alpha Diallo checked out PC, Ky­ron Cartwright served as his chap­er­one.

“If your team­mates are friends with each other when you visit, just imag­ine when you get to know them. That’s one of the rea­sons why I chose the school. I felt a gen­uine con­nec­tion with the team,” Diallo said.

Diallo now finds him­self in the po­si­tion where he’s the one pro­mot­ing why com­ing to PC is a good choice.

“You just try to show them a good time but also be hon­est with them and be gen­uine. Any ques­tions they have, you an­swer to the best of your knowl­edge,” Diallo said.

• Tak­ing in Fri­day’s prac­tice was North Carolina school­boy Greg Gantt, presently the only ver­bal pledge the Fri­ars have re­ceived for the Class of 2019. It was the first time Gantt has been on PC’s cam­pus; he com­mit­ted over the sum­mer.

“He’s look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing tremen­dously. He’s been wait­ing on this since July,” said Fred Can­non, di­rec­tor of Team Felton, the AAU pro­gram that Gantt suited up for.

Can­non said that PC has been in fre­quent con­tact with Gantt since the 6-7 prospect se­lected the Fri­ars; as­sis­tant coach Jeff Bat­tle flew down for an in-house visit last month. The Fri­ars have also main­tained heavy con­tact with a cou­ple of Team Felton mem­bers from the Class of 2020 – 6-6 wing Si­las Ma­son and 6-5 shoot­ing guard Ricky Coun­cil IV, who is the younger brother of one­time Friar Ricky Coun­cil II. p.m.

Fox and FS1

Los An­ge­les vs. Mil­wau­kee

Fri­day, Oct. 12: Los An­ge­les (Ker­shaw 9-5) at Mil­wau­kee (Gon­za­lez 10-11), 8:09 p.m. Satur­day, Oct. 13: Los An­ge­les at Mil­wau­kee (Mi­ley 5-2), 4:09 p.m.

Mon­day, Oct. 15: Mil­wau­kee (Chacin 15-8) at Los An­ge­les, 7:39 p.m.

Tues­day, Oct. 16: Mil­wau­kee at Los An­ge­les, 9:09 p.m. x-Wed­nes­day, Oct.

An­ge­les, 5:05 p.m. x-Fri­day, Oct. 19: Los An­ge­les 8:39 p.m. x-Satur­day, Oct. 20: Los An­ge­les 9:09 p.m. 17: Mil­wau­kee at Los at Mil­wau­kee, at Mil­wau­kee,

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