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Three Reasons for Optimism: Providence

I gave you the bad news first. Now let's talk about why Friar fans should view their glasses half full.

Jim McIsaac

I laid out three reasons for Providence Friars fans to temper their expectations this season and be a little pessimistic. But who likes a Negative Nancy? Not me. Let's talk about three reasons that Providence fans should be optimistic about defending their Big East Championship title in the 2014-15 season.

1. Kris Dunn

I know, I know. You're saying how can Kris Dunn be both a reason for pessimism and a reason for optimism? If the Friars have any hope of returning to the NCAA Tournament in March 2015 their chances rest squarely on the shoulders (pun intended) of the redshirt sophomore Dunn. After having two shoulder surgeries since July 2012 Ed Cooley and his staff treated Kris Dunn very gently this offseason. Dunn wasn't even allowed to play during the team's August trip to Italy. While he only got full clearance on Wednesday, per ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Ed Cooley told Goodman that he fully expects Dunn to be ready to play on November 14th as the Providence Friars will open up against Albany at the Dunkin' Donuts Center and raise their Big East Championship banner to the rafters. Dunn has shown that he has the ability to take over a game with his defense alone as he did in his 2nd of 4 games last season when the Friars played Vanderbilt in the US Virgin Islands. If Dunn stays healthy and plays his way into form by the time the Big East schedule comes around on New Year's Eve, the league better watch out.

2. Depth, depth, depth

This is the deepest Providence team I can remember in a long time. 7 of the 12 scholarship players will play their first game for Providence College this season but I would say 9 or 10 guys have a legitimate chance at solid minutes. With the highly touted freshman class, including top 100 ranked recruits Paschal Chukwu, Jalen Lindsey and Ben Bentil, Ed Cooley may actually have a bench this season to work with after playing only 6 players for the vast majority of last season. The area with the most depth is the frontcourt as Providence will have two 7-footers in Desrosiers and Chukwu to go along with LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris, Rodney Bullock, Bentil and Lindsey playing the forward spots. The guard positions will be manned mainly by Dunn and a combination of freshman Kyron Cartwright, Tyree Chambers, sophomore Junior Lomomba and a mixture of Henton, Harris, Bullock and Lindsey. There will be some interesting lineups that Ed Cooley can trot out there this season and most of them will be long and stifling on defense. I'm sure Coach Cooley is just happy to have options.

3. Ed Cooley

Ed Cooley has proven that he can recruit. I believe he has grown quite a bit as a bench coach as well in his time at Providence. Putting that aside, if you look at Ed Cooley's track record of progression as a head coach you will notice that he has always won more games than the year before at that school. In his first head coaching job at Fairfield Cooley's season by season record look like this:

Season W-L Record Postseason Result
2006-07 13-19 none
2007-08 14-16 none
2008-09 17-15 none
2009-10 23-11 CIT Second Round
2010-11 25-8 NIT Second Round
Total W-L Record 92-69 (.571)

So far at Providence the season by season record looks like this:

Season W-L Record Postseason Result
2011-12 15-17 none
2012-13 19-15 NIT Quarterfinals
2013-14 23-12 NCAA Second Round
Total W-L Record 57-44 (.564)

I like how that trend looks. Now I've given you three reasons for pessimism and three reasons for optimism. Is your glass half full or half empty? Let us know in the comments and be sure to vote in the poll.