Thoughts from the long drive home from Columbus…
- I’m not going to spend a ton of time talking about the game itself because everyone is probably already all talked and read out about it. Let me say a few things that I believe to be true. The officiating was poor. The technical foul called on Ed Cooley by Terry Ogelsby and the subsequent “explanation” given by NCAA coordinator of officials John Adams were poor. The job the NCAA did of placing Dayton in Dayton and then 75 miles up the road in Columbus was poor. The scheduling of the game being at 10pm — ultimately tipping near 11pm and ending after 1am — was poor. I can believe all of those things to be true and, at the same time, believe they weren’t the reasons Providence was defeated and sent packing in the round of 64.
The Friars obviously picked a bad time to have their worst offensive game of the season and that, along with Dayton’s pesky defense, were the reasons Providence flew home Saturday morning instead of sticking around for a Sunday night game. I heard from a few people on Twitter and elsewhere that Henton should have stopped shooting or Cooley should have made him stop shooting. I’m sorry but that makes absolutely no sense to me. His shooting numbers were definitely ugly but this is LaDontae Henton we are talking about. He is now the second leading scorer in school history behind Ryan Gomes and you want him to stop shooting? Never going to sell me on that. Kris Dunn had a tough game and it’s a shame that the country — those that were still awake anyway — didn’t get to see Dunn in all his glory. His decision to return to Providence or declare for the NBA is the precursor to having any discussions about next year’s team and it’s potential.
- Dunn’s decision will be a difficult one and will be made with many factors being considered. The obvious factors are his health and his potential draft position. My opinion on a player leaving school with eligibility still on the table is that the player should feel confident he is at least a lock for the end of the lottery. If the projections have 20’s or late first round I think that’s too risky. Teams in that part of the draft seem to be more likely to draft and stash a Euro that they don’t have to pay right away or use a roster spot on right away than take a turnover-prone play-making point guard who will need more molding and seasoning on their own dime. Even if Dunn does get drafted in the late first round the likelihood is he will spend most of his first year or two playing in the NBA D-league. If Dunn returns to Providence for his senior year (academically) he will likely be one of the faces of the Big East and should get some preseason national attention. He also has a chance to be “the guy” on next year’s Providence team that promises to be very young. The senior year academically part also could be a factor. Dunn is a year away from getting his degree, which is a fact that shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this. I’m not saying Dunn will come back solely because he wants to get his degree now but it’s another factor for him to consider. The second contract is where the real money is made and a player taken in the lottery by a team that will give him the chance to play and show his abilities against other NBA players is the better option. Maybe the lottery is where Dunn gets projected by the NBA people for the 2015 Draft. Maybe not. Maybe he declares for the 2015 Draft. Maybe not. If he comes back he will begin the season as a lottery pick, in my opinion. The deadline to declare for the 2015 NBA Draft is 11:59pm on April 26th. It could be a long month for Friar fans. One final thing on Dunn; the season he had in his first full season following the second shoulder surgery was impressive and he put up some all-time numbers in school history. Dunn had the 2nd most assists in a single season behind only Ernie DiGregorio’s 267 in 1972-73, the 5th best assist average in a single season and tied for the 7th most steals in a single season. However, he also had the 2nd most turnovers in a season behind Dwight Williams’ 140 in 1977-78. He also is now making some appearances on some career lists. Dunn is 6th on the career assists average list behind Ernie DiGregorio, Abdul Abdullah, God Shammgod, Vincent Council and Vin Ernst and 6th on the career steals average list behind Eric Murdock, John Linehan, Dwight Williams, Delray Brooks and Carlton Screen.
- LaDontae Henton’s career ended in less than stellar fashion in Columbus. I’m sure Henton never wanted to have a 7/26 shooting night at any point, especially in his final game in a Friar uniform. Wiping the disappointing finish aside reveals an amazing career at Providence. Henton finishes his career as the 2nd leading scorer in school history behind Ryan Gomes, the 19th best career scoring average, 5th in career rebounds behind Marvin Barnes, Jim Hadnot, John Thompson and Geoff McDermott, the leader in minutes played, games played and games started at Providence and this season he scored the 10th most points in a single season and had the 17th best single season scoring average in school history. Henton’s story as Cooley’s first recruit makes the career he has had at Providence College even sweeter. Henton sent out a classy statement to everyone in Friartown over the weekend:
- Henton, along with Ted Bancroft, Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris changed the face of Providence College basketball. This was a program in disarray before Ed Cooley came on board 4 years ago and part of Cooley building the program back up, brick by brick, was bringing in Henton, Desrosiers and Harris and keeping Bancroft on as a walk-on. These 4 players went 45-14 the last 2 seasons, won a Big East Tournament Championship and made back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament. Maybe Harris comes back. Maybe not. But he and Desrosiers were critical pieces these last two seasons and they should be commended for putting their faith in Cooley and Providence after going elsewhere while Keno Davis was at the helm in Friartown. Desrosiers finished 7th all-time in career blocks in just 2 seasons and each season was in the top 10 single seasons for blocks in school history. It’s important to remember where this program was before March 22, 2011 and reflect on that when seeing how far it has come since that date.
- In prior seasons the fans would be even more devastated to have lost the NCAA Tournament and get upset by an 11 seed. The theory behind that was fans wouldn’t know the next chance they would get to have a team good enough to make it back to the blue carpet. The expectations have certainly changed in Friartown. The loss certainly hurts and will leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths for awhile, but the next chance doesn’t seem so far off in the horizon. Cooley and his staff have done a tremendous job of upgrading the talent to the point where this year’s team used a combination of veterans with NCAA Tournament experience and impact freshmen to be successful. Even not knowing what Dunn’s decision will be for next season the future is still bright in Friartown. The incoming class of freshmen fill needs and provide depth. The 2016 class has the potential to be very good with Cooley firmly entrenched in the lives of TJ Gibbs, Braxton Blackwell and other highly rated players. It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture and keep things in perspective. Ed Cooley is the right man for the job at Providence College and the foundation that was built by Henton and the other seniors will allow Cooley to keep building on it and keep building on it, until he is able to win big.
As I did last season, I’ll leave you with Cooley’s introductory press conference from March 23, 2011:
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