The Providence Friars were one of the biggest and longest teams in the nation last season. They had two 7-footers on the roster and a 6'7 freshman playing shooting guard. Fast-forward to late July 2015 and the roster makeup looks quite different. Ed Cooley now has one of the smallest frontlines in the Big East after the graduation of Carson Desrosiers and surprise transfer of impending starter Paschal Chukwu to Syracuse. Just like that there are no more 7-footers in Friartown. A late addition of incoming freshman Quadree Smith will add some bulk but he is only 6'8. Cooley is continuing the search for size up front but at this late date it remains to be seen who he will be able to snare. The saving grace for the Friars? Kris Dunn is back after spurning the NBA Draft and a likely 1st round selection.
Point Guard: Kris Dunn (RS Junior)
2014-15 Stats: 15.6 PPG, 7.5 APG, 2.7 SPG, 30.2 %Poss, 50.9 eFG%, 54.6 TS%, 4.9 Stl%
This is the easiest slot to fill in this starting lineup projection. Dunn will be in there and he will have the ball in his hands for the lion's share of his time on the court, which will likely be the lion's share of every 40 minute game. Dunn had a very good sophomore season and after being named to the Big East's First Team and also being co-Player of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year Dunn has earned the right to have the ball and play the entire game. A rule change eliminating the 5-second call should benefit Dunn as long as he has tightened up his handle to limit his staggeringly high turnover rate of 24.8.
Shooting Guard: Junior Lomomba (RS Junior)
2014-15 Stats: 1.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 2.7 SPG, 11.4 %Poss, 34.8 eFG%, 43.3 TS%, 1.4 Stl%
The shooting guard position is where things become less clear. There are a number of options that Cooley could use here and with so many young players coming into the program one of those guys could impress and win this job. I'm going with the veteran at the moment to start games. Lomomba may not play the majority of minutes here though as Cooley may opt to put Dunn and Kyron Cartwright on the floor together as he did for stretches last season but that would be a weaker defensive lineup. There is also a strong possibility that Cooley subs this position for offense/defense late in games. Lomomba isn't spectacular but he plays hard, is a good defender and is one of the most experienced players in the program with this being his 3rd season at Providence after playing his freshman season at Cleveland State.
Small Forward: Jalen Lindsey (Sophomore)
2014 Stats: 3.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 33.0 3FG%, 10.5 %Poss, 49.2 eFG%, 49.8 TS%, 7.8 TO rate
Lindsey started at shooting guard for much of last season but he was really playing out of position. He probably dribbled the ball less times than he shot it and that normally isn't good for a shooting guard. He is long at 6'7 and can play defense. The key for Lindsey will be take a step forward in his overall development and be more consistent as a shooter. If he shoots like he did at the end of the season he could really help alleviate Lomomba's lack of shooting prowess and help spread the floor for Dunn to attack the lane.
Power Forward: Rodney Bullock (RS Sophomore)
2014 Stats: DNP due to torn ACL
Bullock makes sense here for a number of reasons but he has been at Providence for 2 years and has yet to step on the court for the Friars. His first year was lost to a year-long suspension and last season -- just as reports of him playing well on Providence's Italy trip were pumping fans up -- he tore his ACL during the first week of practices and missed the entire season. Bullock will be 13 months removed from the ACL surgery when the season begins and he has already started workouts. He projects as a combo forward but the stronger aspect of his game is probably still leaning towards a face-up 4 man at this point. At 6'8 he is also one of the tallest Friars on the roster.
Center: Ben Bentil (Sophomore)
2014 Stats: 6.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 18.2 %Poss, 46.2 eFG%, 51.2 TS%, 12.6 OR%
Bentil will step into the void left by Chukwu's transfer though he likely would have had to slide over to the center position for stretches even if Chukwu had stayed. The roster on Friars.com indicates that Bentil grew an inch from last season's 6'8 so we'll go with that for now and say he is the tallest player on the roster. More traditionally a power forward, Bentil may struggle a bit with foul trouble playing out of position. He does have a man's body though and should be able to hold up against bigger 5-men.
While the theme of the offseason among Friar fans has been trying to find a big man to replace Chukwu, Cooley will likely have to go to battle with Bullock, Bentil and Smith up front for the bulk of the 80 minutes at those two positions. The possibility still exists for bringing in another player in 2015 like San Diego State decommit Brodricks Jones or an unknown international player but I don't think either could be counted on for heavy minutes at this point. Cooley will have to get creative and hope that one or two of his freshmen are ahead of schedule. Early reports out of pickup games and practice is that the staff like what they have seen from freshman Ryan Fazekas. Fazekas, at 6'8, offers some added flexibility for the lineup as he can handle the ball and shoot it from deep. The key will be Dunn though. With LaDontae Henton graduating there is no guessing who the leader of the Friar team is at this point. Providence will go as Dunn goes this season but it would surely help if a Robin appears to his Batman at some point.