slides: PC Basketball Seeks 5th Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance in 2017-18
Thursday, November 09, 2017
Providence College Friars men's basketball team opens the 2017-18 season on Friday night against the Houston Baptist Huskies looking to make their fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Last season, the Friars made it to the NCAA Tournament's First Four, before losing to the University of Southern California Trojans.
Coming into this season, Providence was picked to finish fourth in the Big East in the conference's preseason poll.
“A blemish on our program is we haven’t gotten to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully, we can do that. That’s our goal," said Providence head coach Ed Cooley during Big East media day in New York.
Friars Depth Tested Early
One of the themes for the 201-18 Friars is the amount of depth they have throughout their roster. That depth will be tested right away.
Senior forward Emmitt Holt remains out with abdominal issues and there is a chance he misses the entire season.
“The biggest loss we’re going through right now is Emmitt Holt’s spirit. He’s a tough matchup," said Cooley after PC's exhibition game against Baruch College.
His absence opens the door for sophomore Kalif Young to start the season at center, while freshmen Dajour Dickens and Nate Watson will play bigger roles.
"My biggest concern is how the big guys, Young, Watson, and Dickens will do in their first Big East road game. That will be a concern for me, that's why the loss of Holt is gonna be major," said PC radio analyst Joe Hassett.
Senior guard Jalen Lindsey has been bothered by a knee injury the entire preseason and hasn't played in any of the exhibition games. If he is to miss any time, senior Isaiah Jackson will fill his spot at one of the wing positions.
PC's depth comes at the guard and wing positions.
The Friars will be led by senior Kyron Cartwright, who ranked fourth in the country and second in the Big East in assists last season.
Behind Cartwright, there is freshman Makai Ashton-Langford and Drew Edwards. Edwards returns to PC after missing the majority of last season with a knee injury.
Sophomore Maliek White rounds out the Friars depth at the guard position.
Behind Lindsey, Jackson and sophomore Alpha Diallo lead the way at the wing positions, with Diallo expected to start.
Along with returning key players from last season, the Friars also welcome three highly recruited freshmen to the team.
Dickens is a 6'10" center from Virginia who is rated a four-star recruit by both Rivals.com and ESPN.
Watson is a 6'9" forward, also from Virginia, and is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.
The third freshman is Makai Ashton-Langford, who committed to Providence after withdrawing his commitment from UConn. He was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, and Scout.com.
Return to Alumni Hall
Due to Rhode Island Comic-Con occupying the Dunkin' Donuts Center, the game will be played at Alumni Hall.
"We are excited about playing in Alumni Hall but when the ball goes up it will be like any other game. We need to compete," said Cooley
It will be the first non-exhibition game that PC has played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the year before the Providence Civic Center - now Dunkin' Donuts Center - opened.
Following the game against Houston Baptist, The Friars stay home to face #15 Minnesota at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Minnesota is coached by the son of former Providence coach Rick Pitino.
PC will then go to New York for two games and play Washington and then either Saint Louis or Virginia Tech at Madison Square Garden.
Belmont, Boston College and Rider are up next for the Friars, all in Providence, before PC heads to Kingston to face the University of Rhode Island.
PC's last test of the non-conference schedule comes against Houston at Mohegan Sun.
See the Projected Starting Lineup Below
Related Slideshow: Providence College Basketball 2017-18 Projected Starting Lineup
Kyron Cartwright - Senior
Kyron Cartwright was ranked as the sixth-best guard in the country and the second-best guard in the Big East by CBS Sports.
He was also named to the preseason All-Big East second team at Big East media day.
"Kyron is the fastest player in the Big East, he can distribute the ball, he was 4th in the league in assists last season, so he can make things happen," said Hassett.
In 2016-17, Cartwright averaged 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in the regular season helping the Friars to a third-place finish in the conference.
He finished the season ranked fourth in the country and first in the Big East with 6.7 assists per game.
Coming into this season, Cartwright is tied with John Linehan with 450 career assists. He has a chance to climb as high as second all-time and pass Ernie DeGregorio who recorded 662 career assists.
Vincent Council is number one with 725 career assists.
Alpha Diallo - Sophomore
Alpha Diallo will look to build off a freshman season in which he started 16 games for the Friars.
He averaged 5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes of action per game. At the end of the year, the team named him the Marvin Barnes Defensive Player of the Year.
Diallo started his freshman season coming off the bench and playing inconsistent minutes through the first eight games.
By PC's fifth Big East Conference game, he was in the starting lineup and would stay there.
Diallo finished the season reaching double figures in five of the Friars final 12 games, including 18 points against both Villanova and St. John's.
Jalen Lindsey - Senior
Jalen Lindsey has missed the entire preseason with a knee injury.
Lindsey returned to practice on Wednesday and will be a game-time decision for Friday, according to Cooley.
If Lindsey can't go, senior Isaiah Jackson will take his place in the starting lineup.
Last season with PC, Lindsey averaged 10.4 points, four rebounds and one steal in 31 minutes of action per game.
He also shot 46% from three.
Rodney Bullock - Senior
Rodney Bullock returns to the Friars this season after testing the NBA Draft waters last March, before pulling his name out.
Prior to the start of this season, Bullock was named second-team all-Big East.
"With Rodney Bullock, he has to be consistent. He has to come out and give it to you every night. With this team, there is no reason why he shouldn't average 17 points and get 8-10 rebounds per game. He has to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor," said Hassett.
In 2016-17, Bullock led Providence in scoring and rebounding with an average of 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
He also led PC with five double-doubles on the year and scored at least 20 points in nine games, including a career-high 36 points against New Hampshire.
In PC’s NCAA Tournament game against USC, Bullock poured in 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Kalif Young - Sophomore
"The Holt injury is a major problem. He is the toughest player on the team, the best rebounder, and a post up guy that they don’t have. He is also good outside guy that can stretch the defense. Plus, you lose the experience," said Hassett.
Holt's absence means 6'9" sophomore Kalif Young will open the season at center.
"He has a tremendous opportunity now with Holt gone to get more minutes then he would have gotten. The reliance on him now is bigger. With Emmitt out there he didn’t have to play important minutes, now he has to play important minutes," said Hassett.
In his freshman season with the Friars, Young averaged 3.2 points, 3.2 rebounds 0.5 blocked shots in 13 minutes of action per game.
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