Mail To Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally. Another thrilling week of non-conference tournaments will give way to maybe one of the best non-conference weeks in college basketball.
Frontcourt At first glance, the Friars lost a ton when Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey graduated after playing key roles for four years. Click here to buy your copy today or visit your local newsstand!
That leadership and consistency void could be filled if Emmitt Holt returns close to full health. The 6'7" Holt was stricken with an infection last fall, underwent abdominal surgery and never recovered.
He lost more than 40 pounds, was redshirted and spent the spring and summer trying to regain his form. If he pulls it off, Providence will have one of the more valuable weapons in the Big East, plus a sweet comeback story.
Cooley hopes Holt can help squeeze the sizable talent out of sophomore big man Nate Watson, junior Kalif Young and springy freshman Jimmy Nichols. At the other forward is Diallo, a rising star who increased his scoring from 5. He owns triple-double-type versatility and can guard anyone from point guard and power forward.
The Friars need someone to make 3-pointers up front. Holt owns a soft stroke, but if Nichols or fellow freshman Kris Monroe can knock them down, they will play. Sophomore Makai Ashton-Langford should blossom with the opportunity to improve on his 13 minutes of action per game.
David Duke Jr.
Duke plays with great speed and is versatile enough to guard three positions on the perimeter. Juniors Maliek White and Drew Edwards are other experienced pieces who will figure into the mix, with White a potential starter at the off-guard spot.
He averaged 4.
No Friar shot better than 40 percent from the 3-point line last season. That needs to change. White should help, as will fifth-year veteran Isaiah Jackson.
Cooley is also high on freshman shooting guard A. Reeves, a top-flight scorer from Boston who was also a top national recruit. Final Analysis The Friars won 11 games by five or fewer points last season, including three in overtime.
That can be attributed to veteran poise, with a tip of the hat to Cooley and his staff, but the win team was far from a juggernaut. Three key seniors are replaced by stud additions in Duke, Reeves and Nichols, and the Big East knows how dangerous Diallo and Watson can become.
The Friars own enough talent to remain an upper-crust entry.