by The Cowl Editor on November 1, 2018
By Cam Smith ’21
It’s been 244 long and arduous days since the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was last filled with the raucous chants and thunderous applause associated with college basketball. Luckily, for Friar Fanatics everywhere, the approach of Nov. 6 means that the Dunk will soon be electrified again. The noise will begin when the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team takes on Siena College next Tuesday on opening night of their 2018-19 NCAA season.
Last year was a resounding success for the Friars as they defeated both the number one seeded Villanova University Wildcats and the number five seeded Xavier University Musketeers in regular season play. The team advanced all the way to the finals of the Big East tournament, eliminating Xavier along the way before coming up short to Villanova in the final. Despite the outcome, PC punched their ticket to their fifth straight NCAA tournament.
Three key seniors from last season’s successful team have moved on from Friartown: Kyron Cartwright ‘18, Rodney Bullock ‘18, and the sweet-shooting Jalen Lindsey ‘18. With the significant loss of veteran leadership, PC will look to forge a new identity with a host of both familiar and new faces. One player who Providence will look to to take a leading role on the team is Alpha Diallo ’20.
Diallo made a huge leap in his second year with the Friars, going from scoring 5.7 points as a freshman to 13.2 points as a sophomore. His impact was felt on both sides of the ball as a talented slasher and pesky defender, and he also threw together a slew of magnificent performances in the Big East tournament. The 6’7” guard from New York, New York will look to continue his upward trend as the focal point of the PC offense. Diallo has already seen himself named to the 2018 preseason All-Big East First Team.
Diallo is far from alone in his quest to lead the Friars to their sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance. The roster boasts a surplus of talent and versatility, as 12 of the 13 players are listed as either guards or forwards. The lone center on the team, Nate Watson ’21, will look to continue the improvements he made as a scorer in the paint as last season progressed, and should be positioned for statistical improvements across the board.
The return of forward Emmitt Holt ’19 is also a major headline for the Friars, as Holt was the second leading scorer on the 2016-17 team before redshirting last year due to injury. Holt finished in the 87th percentile nationally in offensive efficiency two seasons ago; adding his versatility as a scorer will greatly benefit an offense that at some points last season lacked a go-to scorer.
Isaiah Jackson ’19RS, along with Kalif Young ’20, Maliek White ’20, and Drew Edwards ’20RS will also all have opportunities to bring leadership to a young squad. Each could potentially find themselves in the starting lineup at some point this season, as head coach Ed Cooley has fiddled with various lineups throughout the preseason. Jackson’s experience and solid three-point shooting (36 percent) likely gives him the edge to lead the foursome in minutes played.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the 2018-19 team is the addition of two top-50 recruits in guards David Duke ’22 and A.J. Reeves ’22. Providence native Duke is a talented ballhandler and playmaker who excels at creating his own shot. His AAU-teammate and fellow New Englander, Reeves, possesses a beautiful stroke and has great off-ball movement that is a perfect match with the playmaking ability of Duke. The two have the potential to become part of a prolific scoring backcourt that could ignite the Dunk for years to come.
The Friars capped off their preseason schedule on Saturday, October 27, where they defeated the Bowie State University Bulldogs 83-55. Watson led the team in scoring with 14 points, while four other Friars also achieved double-digit point totals. The evenly distributed scoring likely foreshadows things to come, as the Friars are a deep team with seemingly unlimited potential.