By Jon Rothstein
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1. RAKIM SANDERS’ VERSATILITY
There is an absolutely no way Rakim Sanders should be playing in the MAAC. A rotation player and starter at Boston College for the first three years of his college career, Sanders scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Stags 80-72 loss to the Friars and seems ready for a monster season. Burly yet exceptionally skilled 6-foot-5, the point forward should be a major threat to Iona’s Mike Glover for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
2. GENERAL COUNCIL
He may not get the publicity of other floor generals in college basketball’s best conference, but Vincent Council is one of the best point guards in the Big East. An effective facilitator when he needs to be, Council can also excel in isolation situations off the ball.
Look for the junior to flourish under Friars’ first-year coach Ed Cooley, both this season and next, when Providence welcomes two talented players to join him in the back court in Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo.
3. DON’T SETTLE DEREK
Derek Needham bursted onto the MAAC scene as a freshman two years ago and made an immediate impact due to his lightning quick speed and ability to get to the rim — but on Monday night against Providence, Needham became nothing more than a jump shooter. Rather than attack seams in the defense and work his way into the paint, the junior guard continued to fire away from deep without hesitation. Sydney Johnson and the Stags will need Needham to become a ferocious penetrator if they’re to become the team they’re capable of.
4. PERIMETER PROWESS
It’s yet to be determined how many games Providence will be able to win in the Big East but one thing the Friars can do is score — and that’s directly related to their perimeter. In addition to Council, both Bryce Cotton and Gerard Coleman are capable double figure scorers that should help the Friars put points on the board in a hurry regardless of the opponent.
5. BUILDING BLOCK
Any time you’re building a program, you need solid four-year players as a foundation and that’s just what Providence has with freshman LaDontae Henton. Although undersized for a power forward at 6-foot-6, the crafty lefty does all the little things that matter and has the potential to emerge as a glue guy down the road for the Friars. Think former Cincinnati wing Rashad Bishop.
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of points scored by Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, and Gerard Coleman. Providence scored 80 as a team.
What Fairfield’s Derek Needham shot from the field. They were all from 3-point range.
THEY SAID IT:
“He’s like a linebacker on roller skates,” Ed Cooley on Rakim Sanders.
“He’s a real jack of all trades type. He does a little bit of everything,” Ed Cooley on LaDontae Henton
“It came down to heart and it came down to leadership. They out played us and out coached us,” Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson on the loss.