PROVIDENCE – The wounds from Providence College’s 17-point loss to Cincinnati were still in need of suturing when Ed Cooley sat down at a podium inside Madison Square Garden. Clearly determined to not wallow in self-pity following the Friars’ latest one-and-done result in the Big East Tournament, the head coach elected to use the forum to look down the road.
Back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Cincy aside, PC posted seven wins in a 10-game stretch leading up to Wednesday’s 75-66 win over Charlotte in first-round NIT action. Certainly the stretch is worth denoting, yet what has Cooley tingling with optimism stems from the cavalry that’s coming.
Specifically, the Providence mentor noted, “the guys sitting out.”
At this juncture, it’s premature to speculate whether talented freshman Ricky Ledo elects to remain in the fold or test pro waters. Two players who aren’t viewed as wild cards but like Ledo are sitting out this season are red-shirt prospects Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris. Without name-dropping, Cooley served notice that above all else, the 2013-14 Friars are positioned to reap the benefits stemming from an increase in bodies.
In the 7-foot Desrosiers and the 6-foot-9 Harris, Providence will automatically bolster its frontcourt with some much-needed size. Both players have been afforded plenty of time to contemplate their future roles due to sitting out in compliance with NCAA transfer regulations. Desrosiers will have two years of playing eligibility at PC after transferring from Wake Forest last spring, while Harris has three Friar seasons to look forward to after coming from N.C. State.
On the periphery, standing idly bye while your teammates step on the floor without you appears grounds for food for thought. Through the seemingly endless wave of patiently waiting their turns, Desrosiers and Harris have managed to stay plenty busy. The former mentioned that he makes it a point to lift four days a week and shore up his low-post moves. Meanwhile, the latter chose to take God Shammgod up on the late-night basketball sessions offered by the ex-Friar standout and current undergrad assistant coach at Alumni Hall in an effort to strengthen his ball-handling skills.
“It’s gone by a little quicker than expected,” said Desrosiers recently when asked about the near-completion of his transfer penance. “I made it and obviously am excited about the future of the program and where we’re heading.”
Harris was either being modest or completely honest when noting that he hasn’t fallen prey to the game of wondering. Every step the swingman has taken has been done with a firm purpose in mind.
“I haven’t been thinking too much about not playing. I just try and stay focused on wanting to get better,” Harris said without a hint of hesitation. “Sitting out this year may have been the best thing that happened to me. It was a year for me to workout and get stronger so that when I come back next year, I’ll be more ready than any time before and ready for an impact year.”
There is one area where the presence of Desrosiers and Harris has been felt. When they aren’t being asked to perform their scout team duties, i.e. mimic opponents on the Friars’ schedule, the pair along with Ledo have teamed up to give their teammates a run for their money during scrimmages.
“Our practices are like our game days. Every day when we come (to Joe Mullaney Gymnasium), myself, Carson and Ricky make sure go at the guys no matter what,” said Harris. “You never care if they’re tired, but at the same time they’re always pushing back. That’s what makes practice so great and why we compete so hard.”
Wednesday saw Desrosiers and Harris continue a season-long trend of working up a sweat at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center with their teammates during pregame activities. Once PC and Charlotte got underway at 7:15 p.m., the two turned into the biggest cheerleaders in the building while sitting on the bench in sharp suits.
Such is the life chosen for those players who patiently wait their turn – the NCAA prohibits transfers from traveling with the team. As Cooley noted last week, Desrosiers and Harris remain very much on the radar. The fact that the coach acknowledged that it won’t be long before they are reclassified undoubtedly must have served as a silver lining on a recent afternoon when Providence had a hard time matching up with Cincinnati.