By Jon Rothstein
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1. LEAD COUNCIL
He may not be mentioned in the same breath as some of the elite point guards in the Big East — but Vincent Council should be. Providence’s junior point guard could be as talented as any player at his position in the best conference in college basketball but just lacks the necessary supporting cast to consistently keep his team competing at a high level. An underrated facilitator, Council will have to improve his outside shooting and ability to lead if he’s to help the Friars escape the basement of the Big East.
2. CULTURE CHANGE
One thing you never did when watching Ed Cooley’s teams at Fairfield was associate them with being soft — but right now, that’s the case at Providence. After multiple years of playing minimal defense and showing only small doses of fight under Keno Davis, Cooley must fight every day to make his program one synonymous with effort and determination.
3. COTTON SURPRISE
With only eight scholarship players on his roster, there haven’t been many surprises that Cooley has been able to embrace thus far in practice but one has been sophomore guard Bryce Cotton. A jet in the open floor, the 6-foot-1 Cotton should give Providence a quality third perimeter player to pair with Council and sophomore wing Gerard Coleman.
4. EYES ON 2012
The key to any rebuilding situation is recruiting and the Friars already have the pieces in place to give themselves a running start a year from now. Cooley and associate head coach Andre Lafleur have already worked feverishly to get commitments from two players ranked in the top 50 nationally in point guard Kris Dunn and off-guard Ricky Ledo, a Rhode Island native whose talent level is on par with any recruit in the Class of 2012.
5. HOPE FOR HENTON
Every program needs a glue guy and Providence might have found theirs in freshman combo forward LaDontate Henton. A versatile lefty at 6-foot-6, the crafty Henton is the favorite to start at power forward and eerily resembles former Cincinnati wing Rashad Bishop, who helped the Bearcats reach the NCAA Tournament last season.
There is no quick fix for this program, it’s going to be a slow and arduous process. Before Providence can worry about climbing the Big East standings, they first must worry about getting themselves ready to compete on each and every possession during each and every practice. Cooley’s energy and ability to attract marquee talent will help re-energize the Friars starved fan base but he can’t single handidly change the mindset of his players. For this team to be a nuisance in the Big East, they have to become more desperate — something we haven’t seen from a Providence team in quite some time.