To get you ready for Marquette's game against the fightin' Friars of Providence, we traded questions with Daniel James, better known as the Warrior Friar on Friarblog, the chillest Providence blog under the sun.
The Qs. The As. RIGHT NOW.
Anonymous Eagle: Providence has some history being a founding member of a basketball-focused conference, right? Y'all are the ones who are gonna make sure the God-ference is up and running in time for next season, yes? Please?
Friarblog: I certainly hope so! Everyone's working their asses off to get things going in 2013-2014, and up until earlier this week I was convinced we'd all be heading to the Promised Land by then, but who knows if that will happen. I think we can all agree that nobody wants to be in next years Big Frankenstein conference. Does anybody even know who's in it anymore?
AE: Is there any team that Providence is especially going to miss from the "old" Big East? Wikipedia is telling me PC has a rivalry with UConn, but Wikipedia also told me that Nickelback is one of the most popular bands on earth, so I'm not sure I buy that.
FB: It said what about Nickelback? Someone better call a cab, I think Wikipedia is drunk again.
UConn is definitely a rival of ours, and I think fans will miss playing them in conference, but I think we'll continue to schedule them because of the close proximity and the fact that we seem to beat them pretty consistently. On the flipside, a lot of fans were pissed with how UConn handled all this conference realignment BS (and, from what I've learned speaking to Nova fans, the feeling isn't exclusive to the Friars) so there's also going to be some added satisfaction knowing that our rival will be squirming during all this movement.
Other than missing our Huskies matchup I'm not too sure. Syracuse maybe, just because of all the history with that team. I always liked Louisville fans, so there's that.
AE: Providence has lost 7 of its last 9 games, including clunkers against Brown and Boston College and DePaul, but three of those losses were by single digits to pretty good teams: by 9 at Georgetown, by 6 vs. Syracuse, and by 4 vs. Pitt. Do you get the feeling that PC is getting close to turning some of those games into wins? Or is the team still learning to play together?
FB: Boston College and Brown took a lot of liquid therapy to erase from my memory, damn you for bringing that up! *Shakes fist* I'd agree that right now Providence is still learning how to mesh. Losing half a season hurt the chemistry, and a lot of those losses were the collateral to that. But the team is starting to develop an identity, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We're not relying on the zone as much anymore, and we're able to press aggressively because we have more depth. We're playing scrappy, which is what Ed Cooley wants I believe. This team is turning things around, and while many argue there's no such thing as a moral victory in a loss, we are seeing the team start to play effectively together.
AE: Who is PC's best player? Most important player? Are they the same guy?
FB: PC's best player is Bryce Cotton. The kneejerk reaction to say Vincent Council is there, but Bryce can spark the offense, has improved his defense, and acts like the glue to the team out there. As for most important player I'd have to say it's actually Kris Dunn. The dude gives Providence a defensive identity and has no off switch whatsoever. He's learning quick and he's going to be a centerpiece to Providence becoming competitive again.
Honorable mention to most important player is the White Lightning himself Ted Bancroft. Kid's a walk on who plays at most a few minutes a game (international time zones excluded) but when he's checking in to go on the court you know that PC is about to step it up defensively.
AE: Highly-acclaimed freshman Kris Dunn chose Providence over a host of other interested suitors, including Georgetown, UConn, and Marquette. How have the early returns been? (You'd make us feel a lot better if you tell us he's been terrible since he came back from his shoulder injury.)
FB: Well his first game in against Colgate he tied a freshman record of 13 assists in a single game, so there's that...[Rubie sez: jerk.]
Honestly though Dunn has been incredible to watch. He has made his mistakes and took some time to get to the college level, but wow does that kid learn fast. Expectations were high for Dunn, but I'd say so far he's done a great job adjusting given he was out for 6 months. Ed Cooley said it best - he gives the team a defensive identity.
AE: Vincent Council has been playing big minutes since returning from the hamstring injury that knocked him out of most of November and December, but word was that he looked "very rusty" upon his return (and was held out of the starting lineup vs. Syracuse). Is he rounding into form yet?
FB: The Pitt game was the first time I think I comfortably said that Council was looking like his old self. He's not 100% there in my opinion but he's starting to hit those midrange jumpers more consistently, and I think that's been a good first step back in. His minutes are trying to be kept to a limit but fact is we need as much out of him as we can get, so he'll usually end up playing more than he might be ready for.
AE: Better odds: that stud guard (and partial qualifier) Ricky Ledo suits up for Providence next season, or that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo announces that Lennay Kekua is having Manti Te'o's baby?
FB: Man oh man I wish I could say Lennay Kekua is having Te'o's baby because I would pay a huge amount of money to see that MTV reality show (anything to get that orange, drunk smurfette from Jersey Shore off the air!) but I gotta go with Ledo. He's working his ass off in practice and constantly building himself to be ready for next year, and this isn't speculation either - this is a fact. Unless there's a huge change at the end of the season expect Ledo in a Friar uniform.
AE: The best basketball team (single season) in the history of the Big East Conference was ________.
FB: Oh my dayum, so many options to choose from. It's hard for me to pick without being bias...I'm gonna have to say 84-85 Georgetown. I gotta acknowledge the fact that yes, this team was absolutely phenomenal (runner up to Nova in the National Championship game and part of the Big East Final Four Block Party) and I think they were even picked the best team in the Big East 10 Best Teams list on the Big East site, but my reasoning is largely because Patrick Ewing was my favorite player growing up. I still have 33 Knicks jersey from when I was six or seven years old.
AE: RANK 'EM! Ice Cotton, Ice T, Vanilla Ice, ice cream cake.
FB: I'm gonna throw a twist your way - Ice Cotton eating a Vanilla Ice flavored ice cream cake with Ice Cube's picture on it, drinking an Ice T flavored ICEE, while watching Ice-T on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit while the TV sits on top of an ice box. THAT is perfection right there. [Rubie sez: I got served.]
...and if anyone wants to make my new apartment complete a poster-sized photoshop of this image would be framed and hung in its own shrine.
AE: We pick a Beer of the Game before every Marquette game. Give me a local microbrew from Rhode Island so I don't have to use Sam Adams or some other mass-produced nastiness like that.
FB: Gotta be a Rhode Island IPA from Trinity Brewhouse, the home of all Friar drinking fans! 7% ABV beer with a crisp taste - you can't go wrong. I don't know if they bottle that one though, so if not we're going in the total other direction and saying Narragansett Lager. It's the definition opposite of a microbrew (I feel like this guy every time I drink one), but I'll be damned if I don't drink a few tall boys before a game. Plus, five bucks for a 6 pack of the tall boys? How can you go wrong?