Italy trip has Friars ahead of curve
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.
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,