Providence coach Ed Cooley

Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports

Friars picked fourth in Big East preseason poll

John Rooke
October 10, 2019 - 11:32 am

Normally, a top four finish in the Big East standings every year punches your ticket to the Big Dance in March.

This year in the Big East, you might even slide a bit more down the ladder and still find your way into the dance hall.

The field is that deep this year.  As voted on by the men’s basketball coaches, there wasn’t too much surprise or intrigue when it came to selecting a favorite to win the title in 2019-20.  Seton Hall, led by all-American candidate and Preseason Big East Player of the Year Myles Powell, was picked first.

But only by a scant margin.  That’s how tight things may be within league play this season.

Perennial favorite Villanova was just a single point behind the Pirates, with Seton Hall and Villanova each gaining five 1st place votes from the league coaches.  Xavier was selected third, with Marquette and Providence tied for 4th overall – just two points behind the Musketeers and only a single point above 6th place Georgetown.

It’s tighter than medium t-shirt on an XL frame.

“31 returning starters, the league is older,” Ed Cooley told the Big East Digital Network.  “We’re also older, a little banged up right now, but with the kind of firepower everyone has it’s no surprise we’re all packed in together.”

As for the individual honors, Friar senior Alpha Diallo was selected for the preseason 1st team and was the only PC player to receive preseason mention.  Diallo averaged 16 points and better than eight rebounds per game last season and is one of the top leading scorers and rebounders returning.

Providence reached the NIT last season with an 18-16 record after five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.  With six of the top seven scorers returning, the Friars are looking for something better than last year’s 7-11 league mark. 

In addition to Diallo returning at forward,  junior center Nate Watson averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 boards, but has also been battling a knee injury (MCL sprain) of late.  Sophomore guard David Duke averaged 7.1 points and senior guard Maliek White owned a 6.7 scoring mark. 

Roxbury’s A.J. Reeves showed great scoring promise as a freshman, averaging 9.8 points, but was slowed by injuries.  UMass graduate transfer point guard Luwane Pipkins will be expected to give the offense a jolt. 

Which they may need, considering the traffic and likely heart-stopping finishes-to-be looming on the horizon.  The season opens with an exhibition against Stonehill on October 19th, and the regular season opener on November 5th at the Dunkin Donuts Center against Sacred Heart.

Big East Preseason Coaches Poll

  1. Seton Hall (5)                        77
  2. Villanova (5)                          76
  3. Xavier                                        52
  4. Marquette                             50
  1. (Tie) Providence                 50
  1. Georgetown                         49
  2. Creighton                               45
  3. Butler                                        21
  4. St. John’s                                 19
  5. DePaul                                      11


2019-20 BIG EAST Preseason Honors
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Myles Powell, Seton Hall, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Trenton, N.J.
BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova F, Fr., 6-9, 232, Overland Park, Kan.
BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Kamar Baldwin, Butler, G, Sr., 6-1, 190, Winder, Ga.
Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton, G, Jr., 6-4, 195, Charlotte, N.C.
Markus Howard, Marquette, G, Sr., 5-11, 175, Chandler, Ariz.*
Alpha Diallo, Providence, G, Sr., 6-7, 210, New York, N.Y.*
Naji Marshall, Xavier, F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Atlantic City, N.J.*
BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team^
Paul Reed, DePaul, F, Jr., 6-9, 215, Orlando, Fla.
James Akinjo, Georgetown, G, So., 6-0, 180, Oakland, Cal.
L.J. Figueroa, St. John’s, G-F, Jr., 6-6, 195, Lawrence, Mass.
Mustapha Heron, St. John’s, G, Sr., 6-5, 210, Waterbury, Conn.
Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-3, 191, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Jr., 6-7, 222, Franklin, Mass.
Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Omer Yurtseven, Georgetown, C, Jr., 7-0, 275, Istanbul, Turkey
Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Jr., 6-4, 196, Indianapolis, Ind.
*Unanimous selection
^Tie in the voting allowed for an additional honoree