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St. John's vs Providence: Q & A with Craig of Friar Basketball

On Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton, the loss of Bryce Cotton, and that big lineup the Friars have.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

For me, at least, the Providence Friars are thoroughly confusing. Sporting an incredibly large lineup and a solid 3-1 record in the Big East, Ed Cooley's squad looks like a tough opponent.

But then, there are those bad losses. And all of the freshmen in the rotation. And the loss of Bryce Cotton.

To help us get a better handle on what's going on with Providence, we turn to Craig Belhumeur (@craig_belhumeur) of the site Friar Basketball for some intel. Thanks to Craig and the folks over there for good answers, and remember to read our game preview!

Rumble: So... I don't get it. Providence is all over the place, with wins over Notre Dame and Butler but losses to Brown and Boston College. Is Providence good, bad, or hard to comprehend from game to game?

Friar Basketball: No question the losses to Brown and Boston College hurt, they stick out on a schedule page like a sore thumb. Prior to the season beginning, nearly anyone with a good feel of this year's team, would have pegged these two games as wins. Even though the BC game was on the road, the Eagles are certainly far from being a tough out.

With those losses, as you mentioned, have come a couple great wins. First coming against Notre Dame and then most recently with wins over Butler and Georgetown.

Ed Cooley seems to have figured out the rotation as he has moved junior Tyler Harris out of the starting lineup as well as freshman Kyron Cartwright. PC now starts sophomore Kris Dunn, freshman Jalen Lindsey, senior LaDontae Henton, freshman Ben Bentil and senior Carson Desrosiers.

With 7 foot freshman center Paschal Chukwu coming off the bench, in addition to Harris, Cartwright and Cleveland St. transfer Junior Lomomba, Cooley has the most depth he has ever had since beginning at Providence.

To answer your question though, placing a "good" or "bad" stamp on this team isn't hard, they definitely are not bad.

At 13-4, 3-1 in conference, PC is a good team right now. What will elevate them to the next level is picking up a third contributor. Right now, Henton and Dunn are really carrying the load. If Lindsey or Harris can find a way to get things going, this team will have the ability to go further than the 2013-14 Friars.

Rumble: What are the characteristics of a good Friars game - and a bad one?

Friar Basketball: Limit turnovers. This team goes as Kris Dunn goes. There have been games where PC hasn't taken care of the basketball and it starts with Dunn. In the past several games, Dunn has shown why he was a McDonald's All-American point guard in high school.

Coming into tomorrow night's contest, Dunn will have his first Big East Player of the Week honor under his belt. Over the last two games, the New London, CT native is averaging 20.5 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds a game. If Dunn takes care of the basketball, that usually translates to good things for the Friars.

In addition to Dunn, as mentioned in the previous answer. When the Friars are playing well, they are getting contributions from more than just their two leaders in Dunn and Henton. Lindsey, who spends nearly 100% of his time on the perimeter, has struggled to make shots of late and Harris hasn't found his rhythm in his new 6th man role.

Rumble: What has the return of Kris Funn meant? How effective is the guard rotation?

Friar Basketball: The return of Kris Dunn has been huge. Dunn was spectacular in the second half against Butler on the road. In the next game he outscored Georgetown by himself in an overtime win this past Saturday. Dunn's role in the offense is more than significant.

Currently, Dunn ranks 2nd nationally in assists per game as well as 9th in steals. His presence is felt on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. With Dunn's great play of late, freshman point guard, Kyron Cartwright has seen his role decline.

Rumble: What's wrong with Providence's offense?

Friar Basketball: I've hinted to it, but quite simply it's that there isn't a whole lot of diversification in terms of who is doing the scoring for PC. To date, Dunn and Henton have scored the majority of the points while everyone else is well behind.

Due to a few high scoring games, Tyler Harris' scoring average isnt' that far off from Dunn and Henton but Harris' offensive output has slowed down significantly. Harris hasn't finished in double-figures in four straight games.

The key for the remainder of the season will be the addition of a third offensive contributor.

Rumble: Tell us how LaDontae Henton is making Providence forget all about that Bryce Cotton fellow.

Friar Basketball: First of all, with no disrespect to Henton, there is no player that will make Providence fans forget about Bryce Cotton. What Cotton did last year was nothing short of amazing.

With that being said though, Henton has really helped fill the void left behind from Cotton. Henton has a much improved three point shot this season and has scored more than 15 points in every game but two this year. With an improved jumper, Henton can now hurt teams anywhere on the floor. Cooley often times sets up plays for him on the block but you will also see him knock down shots on the perimeter.

It will be fun to watch the battle for Big East Player of the Year between Henton and D'Angelo Harrison.

Rumble: How have the freshmen been for PC?

Friar Basketball: I'd say that best way to describe the young guys is that they have been freshmen. They've shown signs that they can be really good but they have also shown how much work they have ahead of them.

Last Tuesday was Paschal Chukwu's coming out party as he grabbed 9 rebounds and made several key blocks while playing all 20 minutes in the second half against Butler.

Jalen Lindsey has struggled to make shots lately, but has shown he is capable. Ben Bentil has been tabbed as the Friars best player in practice, but we haven't seen it in a game yet. According to Cooley, Bentil is having confidence issues. If he can figure that out, he should be dangerous simply because of his size and athleticism.

Lastly, Kyron Cartwright was a mainstay in the starting lineup for the beginning of the year. Since being removed from the starting lineup his minutes have decreased and he hasn't been much of a factor.