It's the same old song and dance for the Providence College Friars ever since head coach Ed Cooley has stepped foot on campus. Every season starts with high hopes, a promising recruiting class, but things just never seem to materialize the way it should.
One thing we do know is that Kris Dunn's season is over.
On Wednesday, Providence College announced that Dunn will have season ending surgery on his right shoulder. Dunn was the centerpiece of the 2012 draft class. He was the point guard the Friars were planning on building their team around once Vincent Council's time was up.
Now one is left to wonder if Dunn will ever shake the "injury-prone" label. He missed the first nine games of his freshman year recovering from shoulder surgery last summer. When he, finally, got on the court, he showed glimpses of the potential that had so many experts excited. He was a stat sheet filler. He averaged 5.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.
His shooting was still a work in progress, which is to be expected from a 19-year-old. It was all the other stuff that perked an eyebrow. His wingspan bothered opposing point guards. At 6'3", he played taller, crashing the boards and rebounding as well as any power forward on the team. He could distribute the ball, making flashy passes not seen since the days of God Shammgod. He was fearless attacking the rim.
It's that same fearlessness which has hurt his development. His insistence on crashing the boards at his young age against taller, stronger players may be a factor in his proneness to shoulder injuries.
So where does this leave the Friars?
With the players coming in (Austin, Tyler Harris, Carson Desrosiers) and the players returning (Dunn, Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton, Josh Fortune), I viewed Providence as a legitimate threat to be a top 25 team this season. The Friars have gotten off to one of their best starts in recent team history, winning eight of their first ten games. Without Dunn, the Friars went toe-to-toe with Kentucky for a half.
The Friars will still be good. They have been. Dunn has only played parts of four games this season. The biggest problem is there is no other pure point guard on the team. It appears to be a major recruiting flaw. The team's best scorer, Bryce Cotton, is now pressed into expending energy playing point guard. Instead of someone setting Cotton up for a three-pointer, Cotton is the one with the ball trying to find teammates. The diminutive Cotton is not able to create his own shot, but instead relies on others setting him up. Last season, Cotton shot 43.7% from the field and 36.4% threes. This season, those numbers have dipped to 36.2% and 31%.
The lack of a true point guard to assist Cotton will prove to be Providence's fatal flaw.
What is promising is the development of Harris and Desrosiers. Harris has given the Friars another scoring option and the seven-foot tall Desrosiers has provided some interior toughness under the rim. Henton, Fortune, and Batts give the Friars other scoring options.
The silver lining with the Dunn injury is that the Friars hope he won't have to lose a season of eligibility. Providence College will apply for a medical hardship waiver which would allow Dunn to redshirt this season. That would allow Dunn to still have three years of eligibility.