Although last season was a a great one for fans of the Providence Friars, it did not get off to the most spectacular of starts. Kris Dunn injured his shoulder during the team's first exhibition game, and freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock got suspended - ultimately for the full year - a few days after Dunn's injury. These were certainly reasons for pessimism amongst the Friar Faithful and there were many who were pessimistic all the way up until the magical run in the Big East Tournament.
Though many fans are still riding high from the first Big East Championship since 1994 and the first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2004, there are some reasons to temper those jubilant thoughts. Here they are:
1. Kris Dunn's Shoulder
While news came out recently that Kris Dunn has been fully cleared and participated in a team workout, Friar fans are still weary about Dunn's ability to stay healthy. His freshman season got off to a rough start with surgery on a torn labrum in July 2012 which would keep him out of games until December 18 that year. Dunn would play 25 games that freshman season and showed flashes of what could be for the McDonald's All-American. That offseason there were numerous reports and rumors that Dunn was looking fantastic in team workouts and pick up ball. Fans began to salivate over having a healthy Kris Dunn for a full season to take over for all-time Big East assist leader Vincent Council. Then an innocent play in an exhibition game against Division III Rhode Island College left Dunn writhing on the court in pain. It was the same shoulder. Panic ensued. Luckily for Dunn it was a different injury in that same shoulder. That did not soften the blow for Providence as Dunn would sit out for a few weeks before giving it a go for four games and then shutting it down. The only backups to Dunn this season are two true freshman - Kyron Cartwright and Tyree Chambers - and a redshirt sophomore - Junior Lomomba. The lack of durability, whether fair or not, is something for Providence fans to be pessimistic about heading into the 2014-15 season.
2. No More Bryce Cotton
Bryce Cotton accounted for nearly 30 percent of Providence's scoring a season ago. He was the guy that his teammates could look to at the end of a shot clock to make something happen. He flat out took over the game when Providence played the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. Providence will struggle, especially early on, to figure out who will be the go-to-guy on this version of their team. The early nod may go to senior LaDontae Henton but he is not the kind of player that is going to be able to create his own shot off the dribble at will. The other factor here is that aside from Henton, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers this will be a young team for Ed Cooley this season.
3. The Shooting Guard Position
With Josh Fortune transferring to Colorado in late May, Ed Cooley had to scramble to add guards for this upcoming season. Fortune had played a ton of minutes in his first two years at Providence and transferring out of a program where he played 33 minutes per game, won a Big East Championship, played in the NCAA Tournament and was seemingly going to be a starter at the shooting guard position for the third consecutive season is still puzzling to Friar fans. Fortune's departure left Ed Cooley with limited options because he made his decision on the Friday before Memorial Day which meant many of the good transfer options - players like Matt Carlino - were already off the board. As it stands now the shooting guard position looks to be one that will be played "by committee" and that committee doesn't actually consist of any shooting guards in the traditional sense.
Those are three reasons for Providence fans to be pessimistic. Do you agree? Are there any other reasons for pessimism in Friartown? Let us know in the comments section.