Chart Week here at Play For The Garden will be displaying one chart per Big East team; two a day in alphabetical order spanning the week.
The Friars haven’t gone to the NCAA Tournament since 2004. And while they haven’t absolutely bottomed out and become the laughing stock of the conference like DePaul has, it’s been rather rough for most of the last decade. They’ve only accumulated a conference record better than .500 once (2008-09), and they haven’t won 20 total games since that 03-04 season when they went to the tournament.
But that decade of rather mediocrity is on the mend. Led by Ed Cooley in his third season as head coach, the Friars are primed to become a contender in the Big East and get back to the NCAA Tournament. His formula during his short time with the program is simple: acquire talented players.
The chart above is rather simple, yet effective as it shows the prowess of Cooley in the recruiting game.
In this just his third year with the program, he has brought in seven top-150 prospects in the country out of eight total recruits.
Ricky Ledo #6
Kris Dunn #16
Brandon Austin #45
Rodney Bullock #148
Paschal Chukwu #60
Jalen Lindsey #68
Ben Bentil #81
Now he’s not necessarily pulling a John Calipari and luring a handful of top 10 players per class, but he’s getting the job done and getting skilled players to want to play for PC.
This upcoming season is really Cooley’s first season with ‘his’ guys. Last year Kris Dunn was hurt for half the season and Ricky Ledo was forced to sit out the entire year (and has since left for the NBA). But this year Cooley is ready to go.
Unlike last year’s ultra-thin lineup at times, Cooley will have a deep and talented rotation for the 2013-14 season. Dunn and Bryce Cotton comprise a quick and lethal back court, while LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts and freshman Brandon Austin form a big and talented front court. Throw in 7-foot transfer Carson Desrosiers, 6-foot-8 transfer Tyler Harris, 6-foot-7 recruit Rodney Bullock and sophomore guard Josh Fortune, and Cooley has himself a plethora of weapons at his disposal.
I think Providence surprised a lot of people last year by finishing 9-9 in the Big East. But I expect them to surprise a lot more people this year by not only competing for a Big East title, but flirting with a top-25 ranking and more importantly, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament.