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WARWICK â€“ In Rhode Island, the fiscal year begins on the first day of July. To Ed Cooley, the date also signifies the first step the head coach, along with his assistants, will take in laying the foundation for the 2012-13 Providence College Friars.
Save for junior-to-be Bryce Cotton, July 1 signifies the return of the PC players, both holdovers and newcomers, to campus for the beginning of summer school. Getting these players in the fold and used to being around one another in a mostly stress-free environment are the main points of emphasis, something Cooley noted following an in-depth tour of Kent Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
â€śMy whole thing with this group is working on our chemistry and unity and building the idea of team in every aspect,â€ť Cooley said. â€śI want the guys to still enjoy the summer, work on their academics, and be young men.â€ť
Echoed Cotton, who joined Cooley and assistant coach Bob Simon at Kent Hospital: â€śChemistry is a big part, and with us being the only (students) on campus, there wonâ€™t be any distractions. Working out, going to class, and hanging out, I feel that itâ€™s the perfect time to build the right chemistry so that it will translate later on in the season.â€ť
An influx of new talent will join the Friars, yet as Cooley cautioned, itâ€™s unclear whether every single new piece will be present and accounted for on July 1. One player who will be in Providence this summer is Kiwi Gardner, the freshman guard who sat out last season after being declared ineligible by the NCAA.
â€śWith all these moving pieces in our program â€¦ hopefully by July 1, everything is settled,â€ť says Cooley.
Cooley didnâ€™t mince words when saying what he expects from Cotton, who figures to receive attention as one of the top returning perimeter threats in the Big East. In fact, Cooley is counting on Cotton to serve as a valuable off-the-court chaperon.
â€śHis role is going to be huge,â€ť Cooley stated. â€śHeâ€™s probably going to be one of our captains. I trust him and heâ€™s really working on his leadership skills. The fact we spoke about leadership (on Wednesday), thatâ€™s something that he needs to hear because heâ€™s quiet by nature.â€ť
Talking to Cotton about his expanded responsibilities, it would appear heâ€™s comfortable with the idea of being someone that the younger players will look to for guidance and advice.
â€śJust show the freshmen the ropes and let them know weâ€™re a family and a team thatâ€™s going to be there through thick and thin,â€ť said Cotton, who connecting on 38 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts in 2011-12.
Another Friar player who Cooley plans to lean heavily on is senior Vincent Council, who according to the coach, has come a long way. Thursday marks the first day Council will spend in Chicago as part of Nikeâ€™s Deron Williams Skills Academy.
â€śVince has raised his level of play and we want to try to get him to make one more jump,â€ť said Cooley.
The two-hour session at Kent, which was hosted by President and CEO Sandra Coletta and members of her staff, also included new Providence womenâ€™s basketball head coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl and several of her players. At the conclusion of the tour, which included stops by the Emergency Department and the Nursery, the group gathered in a conference room for a roundtable discussion on what they just witnessed.
Itâ€™s participating in endeavors like the one on Wednesday that Cooley believes is important when referencing the Friar brand.
â€śI think that itâ€™s important that our fans understand that to me, itâ€™s not just about winning basketball games. Itâ€™s about developing the entire relationship,â€ť said the coach. â€śI got an incredible amount of information and Iâ€™d love to come back and learn more.â€ť