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Sunday, June 24
Updated: July 23, 4:57 PM ET
Team preview: Providence Friars

Returning Leaders
Points: Mills 10.9 ppg
Rebounds: Douthit 4.0 rpg
Assists: Linehan 3.9 apg
FG %: Douthit 48.3%
3pt %: Linehan 41.7%
FT %: Laksa 88.2%

00-01 Stats: Providence | Big East

The lowdown
2000-01 record: 21-10; 11-5 in Big East (2nd in East)
Final Ranking: NR
Postseason: Lost to Penn State 69-59 first round of NCAA Tournament.

Three Questions for 2001-02
1. How do the Friars handle their success? Are they confident, but not cocky? Do they still possess the drive to stay on top? Will the expectations overcome this crew?

2. John Linehan has to stay healthy, and when he does, the Friars will be a top Big East team. Abdul Mills, combined with Linehan, is a backcourt that can match most Big East teams. But do they have the depth on the perimeter defensively as well as the scoring pop off the bench.

3. Erron Maxey and Karim Shabazz are gone, meaning inside scoring and a defensive presence are unproven. The Friars have to establish the post early in the season to ensure they can count on balance in the Big East.

Three Key Facts
1. Providence set a school record for conference wins with 11 last season. The wins came via the Friars' ability to nail the 3-point shot, while shutting down their foes' long-range bombers. Providence shot the 3 at a league-best 40 percent clip.

2. A big reason the Friars went from 11-19 in 2000-01 to 21-10 last season was point guard John Linehan, who was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 3.2 steals a game, while scoring 10.7 points and dishing out 3.9 assists a night. He ranks second all-time in Providence steals with 246 in 91 games.

3. Head coach Tim Welsh also led Iona to the NCAA Tournament in his third season, but the Friars' turnaround in 2000-01 was much more dramatic. Iona won 21 and 22 games under Welsh before earning an invite to the tourney with a 27-6 mark in '97-98. Providence, meanwhile, was 16-14 and 11-19 in Welsh's first two seasons.

Andy Katz's Scenarios
Best case: The Friars are once again a top-four Big East team, get into the NCAA Tournament and win a game.

Worst case: The Friars drop to the middle of the pack and squeak into the tournament by getting off the tournament bubble.

Key Players Returning
Player Yr. Pos. Ht./Wt. Comment
John Linehan Sr. G 5-9/165 PTS: 10.7 | REB: 2.4 | AST: 3.9
Abdul Mills Jr. G 6-3/190 PTS: 10.9 | REB: 3.0 | AST: 2.9
Romuald Augustin Jr. F 6-7/205 PTS: 9.2 | REB: 2.7 | AST: 1.7
Maris Laksa So. G 6-9/212 PTS: 9.0 | REB: 3.2 | AST: 1.2

Key Losses
Player Pos. Ht./Wt. Comment
Karim Shabazz C 7-2/230 PTS: 8.9 | REB: 7.4 | AST: 1.6
Erron Maxey F 6-6/220 PTS: 11.4 | REB: 6.4 | AST: 0.7

Providence Signings
Player Pos. Ht. High School/College
Rob Sanders F 6-6 New London/St. Thomas More (Ct.)
Garnett Thompson F 6-9 Islip/Suffolk CC (N.Y.)
Tuukka Kotti F 6-9 Forssa, Finland
Ryan Gomes F 6-8 Wilby/Fitchburg-ND (Ma.)

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