The chorus of boos resonated throughout the Dunkin’ Donuts Center the first game of the 2008-09 campaign, as a program striving for turnaround suffered an embarrassing four-point loss to Northeastern on their home floor. It was not the debut a new coach, still relatively wet behind the ears, was looking to have. After the exodus of Tim Welsh, Keno Davis took a veteran Providence squad and persevered some early ups and downs and did a commendable job of helping the Friars springboard back into the realm of respectability.
Though the Friars were again denied access to the NCAA Tournament, they ended up 19-14, 10-8 in Big East play. Their season was highlighted by a 81-73 victory over then-smoking, #1 ranked Pitt. The Friars won six of their first eight on the Big East slate, though their momentum rush was stymied by a crushing 33-point drubbing at the hands of UConn.
Still, Providence made significant sides in the country’s most evenly-matched, unpredictable conference. However, the graduation of five seniors leaves a rebuilding task ahead.
Geoff McDermott, 6-7 G/F: Though G-Mac didn’t progress a great deal from his freshman year to his senior year, he was a jack-of-all-trades who will be sorely missed next season. The ability to create offense, pound the glass and simply do what’s asked of him and then some made McDermott (8.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG) an indispensable ingredient. G-Mac racked up five double-doubles his senior year, ripping down 10+ rebounds 11 times.
Weyinmi Efejuku, 6-5 G : high-horsepower guard shouldered the burden of leader for Friars his senior year, averaging 15.7 points and 4.0 boards. WE showed up big in games against blood rival Rhode Island, Notre Dame, Villanova (twice, hanging a 29-spot on them the second time around), and DePaul in the Big East tournament. The Queens product led by example at Providence. He recently led the Jamaica national team to the Caribbean Basketball Championship at Tortola (British Virgin Islands) on fourth of July weekend.!
Jonathan Kale, 6-8 PF/C: Big power forward was a key contributor to the Friars’ glass cleaning service, averaging six boards and registering double-doubles against Villanova (14 and 11), Seton Hall (13 and 10), and St. Mary’s (20 and 10)…Enjoyed his best season as a Friar in 2009-10 but could have given a more accurate account of himself at times…Shot the ball at a 57 percent clip, and field goal shooting percentage is one department of his game that will be sorely missed next year.
Randall Hanke, 6-11 F/C: Though he showed flares of dominance at times, Hanke never really met his potential. He shot the ball at a scintillating 65 percent, highlighted by 7-for-10 outputs against SJU and UConn, but he was never active enough on the glass. At 6-foot-11, the Friars’ needed more overall production Hanke, whose tendency to tire out and turn in a sluggish effort in the second half plagued him. Hanke showed the biggest pulse of his career his senior year, though his game tailed off the final four games.
Jeff Xavier, 6-1 G: Crafty guard played the season despite having a fair share of injuries. Three-point sniper averaged 9.3 points in 24.5 minutes. Came alive during a win at Seton Hall (20 points, 5-for-7 3FG) as well as during a home loss against Villanova (21 points, five treys). Was a transfer from Manhattan where he played his first two college seasons under Bobby Gonzalez.
Also…Alex Kellogg transferred out of the program following the 2008-2009 season.
Marshon Brooks, 6-5 G: Spindly guard showed tremendous range and improved shot from beyond the arc, dialing in from a different area code at times. After a freshman season in which he played sparingly, Brooks came out of nowhere and established himself as a scoring threat. One of Tim Welsh’s last recruits (a late-bloomer in 2007 late period), the Georgia native averaged 10.6 points. It was a tale of two seasons for Brooks, however. He was averaging 14 points the first week of the season, turning in 30 and 22-point outbursts during the non-conference slate. In Big East action, his production waned (4.6 points the last six games of the season). Brooks needs to be a more consistent, full-fledged scoring threat next season.
Sharaud Curry, 5-10 G: The onus will be on this veteran-savvy, fifth-year senior (who redshirted during the 2k7-2k8 season) to lead and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Curry averaged 4.2 dimes this season, though his assist-to-turnover ratio was at a high. He also proved he can still score the ball. Curry averaged 11.7 points but must show more consistency from beyond the confines of the arc. He hung 25 on the strength of six treys in a nail-biting three-point loss against Villanova. He turned in a similar stellar showing in the ensuing round of the Big East tournament, schooling a young DePaul team to the tune of 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Brian McKenzie, 6-4 G: One year after posting solid numbers (10.9 points, 47% FG, 40% 3FG), McKenzie’s shooting woes kept his minutes down and lowered his scoring average to a meager 4.6 PPG. Will McKenzie rediscover his stroke and resuscitate his career in his last hurrah at Providence?
Jamine Peterson, 6-5 F: ‘Greedy’ returns to action after redshirting last season. The NYC native has a sense of flair to his game while attacking the rim for dazzling dunks in traffic. Hopefully the redshirt season was put to good use to develop a game away from delivering rim-rattling bangers.
Johnnie Lacy, 5-10 G: Premiere point guard at Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburgh, Mass.) chose the Friars over Marquette, Minnesotta, Cinci and Indiana. Whips precision passes and can score. One of the nation’s most highly-regarded point guards last season.
Kyle Wright, 6-5 G: A JUCO transfer from Hartford, Conn., Wright has the best chance of making immediate contributions. He scored at will during his time at Monroe Community (NY) and is a big guard who will extend defenses with his 3-point shooting, always a favorite trait of Keno Davis.
Vincent Council. 6-1 PG: Savvy point guard with a NYC style and toughness. Davis can alternate styles or pair Council with the speedy Lacy in the backcourt.
Bilal Dixon, 6-8 PF: Dixon redshirted as a freshman to concentrate on his development on the court. As the only player returning on the roster over 6′5, Dixon will be thrown to the Big East wolves in the paint right away.