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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Friars of Providence

Under the covers with the Friars

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Happy Wednesday, everybody! As the Hoyas get ready to return to Verizon to take on the Providence Friars we here at THE AWARD-WINNING GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent. Special thanks to Friar Blog, the best place on the internet for all things Providence Friars for providing answers to our hard-hitting questions. Gentlemen, this bottle of CasuALE is for you. Let's do this.

Fellow Catholic 7 brother! How are you?

What up Caz'! I am doing well now that the Friars' five game losing streak was put to rest on Sunday with a solid win on the road at Seton Hall. Looking forward to Wednesday and many future matchups with Georgetown.

We are now in year 2 of the Ed Cooley era at Providence. While Cooley seems to be making a lot of noise on the recruiting trail, the Friar faithful have yet to be rewarded with improved play on the court. What's your view on Cooley as a X's and Os guy?

The Providence Friar program is a work in progress. Before we can talk Xs and Os we have to talk bigger picture. Ed Cooley took over a program in turmoil following the Keno Davis debacle. There were arrests, scandals, no oversight, no discipline, no camaraderie......and of course no defense! Not to mention the inheritance of a very thin roster.

Cooley's first order of business was to institute a new culture in Friartown and the progress has been dramatic. Cooley has shown he is willing to sacrifice a few wins in the short term in favor of the long term development of his team, both as players and as people.

Kadeem Batts represents a great example. He has long been one of the more promising players on the team, and certainly someone Cooley could have used last year given they could barely field a front court. However Cooley suspended Batts for the first half of the season essentially because he was not meeting the new and higher standards. Once Kadeem finally hit the floor last year, he was behind and it showed with erratic play. However Batts has since bought in, had a very productive offseason and is now one of the more formidable big men in the league.

As far as Xs and Os, while the win/loss record may not reflect it, this team has made strides in the technical aspects of the game. Cooley and his staff (he has a great staff) have shown they are well prepared and good game-planners. Cooley would prefer to play an up tempo style based on an ‘in your face' man-to-man defense but he does not (yet) have the horses to do that. Rather than sticking to his guns, Cooley has shown the ability to coach to his players' strengths. I also put high value on the measure of a coach's tactical abilities by how his team plays coming out of timeouts and the results have been very good with Cooley.

Do you have any concerns with his bringing in guys with eligibility issues?

If there was no recruiting of players with eligibility issues there would be no recruiting, period. The Ivy League would be damn good though. That said, I think the only two players with issues are/were Ricky Ledo and Kiwi Gardner, who is now at JUCO Monroe (TX) College.

That said, I think as long as you are recruiting within the rules it is not only fine to recruit kids that may be borderline academically, it is absolutely essential. Player eligibility goes as the wind blows with the NCAA and you can't cut a huge talent pool out of the mix like that. As long as a student athlete qualifies on his own merit, or serves the applicable penalty if he does not, I have no problem with it.

Ed Cooley and staff are obviously going after (and landing!) top tier talent but their primary focus is to recruit based on fit with the core values of the program. Players have to conduct themselves a certain way and hit the books. Cooley has said his program is not for everyone and he means it.

On a more specific note assuming you were referring to Ricky Ledo with this question...I was all for Cooley's pursuing Ledo! I think Ricky was led down a few wrong paths during his recruitment by some unsavory people and believe he always wanted to be a Friar. The process happened leading the NCAA Clearinghouse to make the call that Ledo was not a full qualifier and therefore allowed to play this year. He seems to be doing well (3.1 GPA first semester) and appears happy from afar. Hopefully he will be suiting up for the Friars next year to put down for his city. Ed Cooley and staff are providing positive guidance and are keeping Ledo's best interests at heart, and would not hold him even if that ultimately means he declares for the NBA draft.

Providence seems to be really snake bitten when it comes to injuries, especially with Vincent Council. How good is Council?

Yes, a big part of the Friars struggles this year can be attributed to the injury situation. Vincent Council (hurt four minutes into season opener, missed next 10 games) and Kris Dunn (nine games) both missed significant time with injuries and are just starting to round back into form. Further, Bryce Cotton (aka "ICE"), the Big East's leading scorer, has missed time (2 games) and been less than 100 percent due to a nagging knee injury.

This has disrupted the chemistry for sure as Ed Cooley has tried to put the pieces together, but Vincent Council is the key to any success the Friars hope to have this season. He is the only senior on the team and simply makes everyone better. When healthy, Council is right up there with the best point guards in the conference - perhaps the country. Council is super-explosive with the ball in his hands and has tremendous vision. Cooley has impressed upon Council to quarterback the team and set up the capable scoring trio of Cotton (21.6 PPG), LaDonte Henton (15.1 PPG) and Kadeem Batts (15.1 PPG). This is resonating with Council who is getting stronger and essentially did whatever he wanted against Seton Hall on Sunday as a facilitator.

What's your take on this Catholic 7 thing? In the end, does it work out for all of us?

I love it and it will thrive long term. We are already hearing about a $500 million television contract offer from Fox that could initially provide the Catholic 7 with a $5 million annually per school proportional share versus about $1.5 million today. Beyond the dollars, the league gets its identity back and has full control over its product, as opposed to relying on mediocre football schools to pull them in this direction or that. Shameless plug time..I recently wrote in longer form on the Catholic 7's decision and why it was a great one if you would like to take a look.

I am a recruit who really wants to play in the new "Conference of God" with the Catholic 7. Convince me why I should go to Providence.

If you are someone who wants to maximize your potential both as a person and a player then Providence is the place for you. The Friars are like Rhode Island's pro team. It's the biggest game in town (sorry I'm not!). You will receive maximum exposure with the attention paid to the conference, the TV deal, and the unique local appreciation. It is a very tight-knit fan base and community that really gets behind players and makes them their own. Many players do not fully appreciate what it's all about until they get here, or after they leave (Hello God Shammgod!). However, with Ed Cooley's charisma and his great staff they are bottling it all up as part of the sell. The facilities are fantastic. The Dunk was revamped a few years back, looks great and is an awesome home venue. Plus a ton of money has gone, and continues to go into various upgrades to the on campus facilities. Oh yeah, and the reigning Miss Universe is from Cranston. Rhode Island has the hottest women in the solar system.


Hello, Rhode Island! via

I had the chance to see Ricky Ledo play and can tell you he is nasty. Are you jealous that I've actually seen him play?

Extremely! Hopefully you will get to see Ledo a few more times next year dropping 30 on the Hoyas! For now, he's a heck of a practice squad player.

I'll tell you what though; Ledo has been looking dapper on game day in his suit. Fashion forward, frequently rocking a bow tie. The Friars have done a great job keeping Men's Warehouse in business with so many players inactive for all or an extended portion of the season due to transfer (Carson Desrosiers, Tyler Harris, Sidiki Johnson) plus the afore mentioned injuries. Fortunately for the Friars, Johnson, Council and Dunn are no longer members of "The Suits" and getting closer to full playing form with each game.

New England's own Ben Affleck wins Best Director at the Golden Globes for 'ARGO' but doesn't even get nominated for an Oscar in the same category. Discuss.

First off, I must make it known that I am available for the role of Friar assistant Bob Simon when Affleck makes "The Ed Cooley Story: A Friartown Phenomenon" into a film. As for your question, much like the public servants who grace your fine city, a consensus cannot be reached.

I have not seen ‘ARGO' yet but thought Affleck was great in Boiler Room! Does that help? Come to think of it I think only times I have seen Affleck on screen recently is when the New England Sports Network (NESN) pans to him sitting in the front row at Fenway during Red Sox games. Seriously though, Affleck has shown he is a Hollywood heavy-hitter as a triple threat with his acting, writing and directing skills and the Hollywood Foreign Press, United Way, National Scholastic Surfing Association or whomever the heck does these Oscar nominations should be ashamed and embarrassed for not including Affleck. The whole idea of Hollywood types honoring themselves is very important stuff and is not to be taken lightly.

If I am in Providence for one night, where am I going to eat, what am I ordering and where am I partying?

Your buddy Jim Boeheim will tell you that there are many, many great restaurants in Providence. Boeheim specifically called out Siena and Capriccio's which are fine establishments, especially if you are in Boeheim's tax bracket. One of my favorite pre-game eateries is Angelo's. Angelo's is located in the famous Federal Hill section and the veal parmesan and fries are all that. Trinity Brewhouse, located across the way from "The Dunk" (that's the Dunkin' Donuts Center for you uninformed Hoyas out there), is another great place to eat (and drink!). Apart from the above there are numerous bars and clubs (of various genres, if you know what I mean) that you might find attractive.


I think that car is about to get a parking ticket. via

Where do you see Providence finishing in the Big East this season?

Providence was predicted by the coaches to finish last in the Big East. Even with losses at Brown and Boston College and home to DePaul on their resume, I think there is no way that happens. The Friars are just starting to get their chemistry back with the additions of Vincent Council, Kris Dunn and Sidiki Johnson to the mix as well as Bryce Cotton getting healthier. Assuming they continue along the positive curve they should finish ahead of at least two or three teams with upside to the top ten. They will surprise some teams this year as they continue to gel.

How do you see this game playing out? Final score prediction?

The Patriots might score more points on Sunday than both teams combined. Georgetown's deliberate style invites close games. Couple that with the fact that the Hoyas have struggled to score consistently and I think we get a close relatively low-scoring game.

Providence has more than a puncher's chance to win but they will have to take care of the ball, shoot a decent percentage and make their free throws (how's that for some riveting analysis!). On the free throw topic, Gerard Coleman, 1-8 from the line at Georgetown last year, is no longer on the team (transferred to Gonzaga) so we've got that going for us, which is nice. Otto Porter is one of my favorite players in the country and he is a big concern. In the end I think it will be difficult for Providence to get back-to-back road wins and Georgetown's stifling defense will be too much to overcome...Georgetown 18, Providence 17.