The NCAA ruling that Providence fans had anticipated for weeks finally arrived today. Unfortunately for Ed Cooley and the Friars, though, the NCAA’s decision renders Ricky Ledo, one of the top scorers in the nation’s freshman class, a partial qualifier. In other words, he can practice with the team — so, yes, there is at least some positive for Friar fans — and attend class, but he cannot play in games.
This is just the latest setback in an offseason littered with bad news for Providence. Kris Dunn, the No. 2 point guard in the ESPNU Top 100, had surgery on his shoulder, and his prognosis is still unclear — he could play by December or January, but he could also miss the entire year. Also, Ian Baker, a not as heralded recruit but a player nonetheless, chose not to enroll.
So Josh Fortune is the only member of the prized freshman class with an opportunity to impact a game, at least until — if — Dunn returns.
On the bright side, Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton are back and ready to leave a mark on their opponents, and Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson will be eligible in December. They’ll just have even less help than they did last year. In 2011-12, they had Gerard Coleman, a promising rising junior guard who transfered to Gonzaga. They also had Bilal Dixon, a key big off the bench who transfered to Towson.
Council, Cotton and Henton can all fill up the bucket, but without the two transfers, Dunn and now Ledo, points will be tough to find. Ledo could have come in and easily averaged double-figures, likely more.
Providence ranked No. 212 in Kenpom’s adjusted defensive efficiency last year, and with even less personnel, they won’t be much, if any, better in 2012-13. So Ledo was supposed to arrive and help the Friars score more than 69 points per game, which would hopefully offset the defensive woes.
Now that won’t happen.
Perhaps Dunn will return at 100 percent from his injury. But the chances of that are so vague that you shouldn’t even count on it.
Providence won’t be the only weak team in the Big East. DePaul has a few talented players, but they still won’t be too competitive. Villanova and Seton Hall are also potential cellar dwellers, so, yes, there will be games that Providence can win.
Just don’t expect much more than their four conference victories from a year ago.