NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Vincent Council #32 of the Providence Friars reacts late in the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
To preview tonight's basketball game between Boston College and Providence, we swapped notes with the appropriately named Friarblog, easily the best source for all things PC basketball. You can also follow Friarblog on Twitter @friarblog.
In exchange, we answered some questions on the Eagles over at Friarblog.
BC Interruption: Former BC assistant Ed Cooley faces one of his former programs tonight at the Dunk. While it's still far too early, what is the PC fan base's reaction to Cooley? Is he perceived to be an upgrade over Keno Davis?
Friarblog: Upgrade is one way of putting it. Ed Cooley has completely changed the culture and outlook for the program that Keno Davis fought so hard to run into the ground. If the Friars were trying to get the complete opposite of Keno, I think it's safe to say they succeeded. There is accountability, discipline and structure, a focus on defense, effort, and more team togetherness. Cooley also isn't afraid to tell it like it is. The team is going to struggle this season, and he won't beat around the bush and give BS coachspeak on how things will magically get better.
I know it's early and BIG EAST play hasn't started yet, but the team on the court is showing signs of breaking away from the stink that was Keno-ball. That in itself has Friartown buzzing. When you throw in a top-10 recruiting class coming in for next season, everyone is incredibly excited.
BC Interruption: How have the Friars been able to replace the production of All Everything guard Marshon Brooks this season?
Friarblog: It's all about the Three C's and an H. Vincent Council has stepped up, playing with a Brooks-ian 29.4% possession percentage and leading the charge on offense every night. Gerard Coleman has been playing with more confidence, and has become more efficient by improved shot selection within Cooley's system. Bryce Cotton has seen the most increased playing time for guys from last year, and he's responded with some great shooting nights. The big surprise for the team has been freshman LaDontae Henton. He's scoring big buckets, rebounding, and surprisingly good from downtown.
BC Interruption: PC has gotten off to a fast start against all programs NOT from the state of Iowa. What happened in the losses to Iowa State and Northern Iowa?
Friarblog: The Friars offense (aside from Vincent Council) didn't make the trip to South Padre Island for those games. The Iowa teams did a great job on defense limiting PC's fast break chances, and their offense just stuttered in the half court set.
Offensive rebounding also did them in against Iowa State, which is something that is going to be an issue for this team all season. Without Kadeem Batts in the front court (he will be returning 2nd semester), the Friars are relying on lots of raw, inexperienced, and limited players, as well as the hopeful resurgence of Bilal Dixon.
BC Interruption: Requisite Big East expansion question: Houston, SMU and Central Florida were just added as all sports members. Thoughts on the adds? When are the hoops schools finally breaking away from the rest of this ridiculousness?
Friarblog: The only thing that really excites me is that Joe Young on Houston will now get to make trips to the Dunk. He was the Top 100 recruit who signed a LOI with Keno, but got out of it because his father wanted him to stay in Houston. I can't blame the guy for wanting to get out of our toxic program at the time, but the way it was handled on their end brought lots of ire in Friartown.
The adds obviously just delay the inevitable of the hoops schools breaking away. UConn, Rutgers, and Louisville are always going to have one foot out the door, so it's just a matter of when the next opportunity to bolt comes up. I just want some normalcy again.
BC Interruption: PC is a perfect 5-0 at home. Awesome home court advantage or simply a product of playing weak opponents early on? In other words, are fans showing up to the Dunk to support Cooley and this team?
Friarblog: The opponents have definitely been a big part of the fast start at home. They've played some pretty weak teams so far - Southern, Florida A&M, Fairleigh Dickinson, Holy Cross and Brown. However, it's exactly what this team needed in order to build up some confidence and get acclimated in Coach Cooley's system. The team is also playing with only eight scholarship players for the first semester, so the fact that they've been able to take care of business against these teams should not be completely discounted.
Fan support hasn't been great so far, but it's been understandable give the initial opponents and the fact that people could still be a little wary of the basketball program. Don't underestimate the destruction Keno Davis did to Friartown. Cooley is definitely creating a tremendously positive buzz around campus, so I'm confident things will turn around.
BC Interruption: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
Friarblog: I think the Friars will continue their strong guard play and BC won't be able to keep up. 75-59.