What In The World Is Going On At Providence?Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2010
Did Keno Davis run over a nun, or something? Is there a Boston College fan somewhere snickering sinisterly while poking pins into a Providence College doll?
This past Saturday, Kadeem Batts, a redshirt freshman at Providence, was arrested outside a club on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and failure to leave premises. He’s still on the team, but it’s not the most confidence-inspiring start, and it’s just another in an improbable string of unfortunate events that have befallen the PC men’s basketball program in recent months.
Back in April, forward Johnnie Lacy and guard James Still, both freshmen, were charged with felony assault in the beating of a PC student. They’re not just off the team, they’re gone, expelled from the college. About a month later, sophomore Jamine Peterson — only the team’s leading scorer (19.6 PPG) and rebounder (10.2 RPG) — was dismissed from the squad for violating team rules (not otherwise specified) while hosting a recruit for a weekend.
And then there’s this Joseph Young situation. In case you’re not familiar, Young is the son of former Houston Cougar and Phi Slamma Jamma member Michael Young, who’s currently the Director of Basketball Operations and Performance Enhancement at the University of Houston. Last month, Joseph signed a letter of intent to play for Providence as a freshman in the 2010-2011 season. He changed his mind soon after, citing his concern for an aunt to whom he’s particularly close who is awaiting a heart transplant, and an increased desire to therefore attend school close to home. He asked Providence for a release from his LOI — and was denied.
Providence didn’t do this just to be mean, though. Check it out: Mr. Young was quickly hired to his current position at Houston (he was also an assistant coach for a year and strength/conditioning coach for five years) after James Dickey was brought on to replace the retired Tom Penders, and Young happens to have a basketball-playing son with some skills. You can’t blame Providence for at least raising an eyebrow in regard to the timing, here — the elder Young is hired to a new position at the hometown school right at the time the younger Young is about to embark on his college basketball career? With all that Providence has had to deal with recently, you can’t blame them for wanting to hold onto a player for whom they have high hopes, especially if they have reason to think they’re not being given the whole story about that player’s desires to leave. Providence has stated that they expect Joseph Young to honor his commitment, a lesson it’s never too late to teach (or learn).
The fact is, even if there’s a chance Providence is getting screwed on this, letting Joseph Young go looks to be the right move from here. While we don’t agree with the heavy-handed and even paternalistic stance some sites and writers have taken against Providence on the issue, there are more reasons to part ways with Young than there are — it seems strange to write this — to hold him to a promise he made.
Unfortunately for the Friars, Depaul sort of unintentionally stuck it to them. Having granted Walter Pitchford his release a couple of weeks ago, DePaul — whether it was for this reason or not — made the right PR move. Both schools are trying to repair their programs, and now that DePaul has released a kid who wanted out, Providence would be expected to follow suit, lest they take on a reputation of being the kind of program that’s unfriendly towards its players. Even if such a reputation is undeserved, if you’re a prospect who has both schools recruiting you, if geography is not a consideration, which school are you more likely to attend, or at least rule out first — one with a reputation of allegedly holding kids hostage, or one which appears more flexible? Recruiting in the Big East is as brutal and competitive as it’s ever been, and a 12-19 (4-14) squad needs to appear to be in the process of turning over new leaves, not cultivating new image problems.
It’s important to consider the fact that Young has stated that he will never enroll at Providence. He’s sure to appeal his release denial by Providence to the NCAA, which makes this simply a matter of whether one side loses, or both. If Young is truly willing to sit out a year if he’s forced, then he holds the cards. Even if Providence wins the Young appeal, they lose. If the NCAA rules for the Friars, then they still end up with an unused scholarship when Young decides to hit the road and sit out, and they also end up looking like they’re bullying a kid with a sick aunt by costing him a year of basketball. The Friars can gamble, and (assuming Young loses the appeal) hope that as the season approaches Young will want to play badly enough that he’ll stay at Providence, but that might be too big a gamble to take. That gets into the personnel reasons as to why Providence should release Young. There are a lot of kids out there who’d love the chance to play for Keno Davis and the Friars. And as we know, sometimes players who have gone through tough times as part of a team can emerge closer and stronger than ever. Releasing Young and hoping Davis can galvanize the new and remaining Friars is the safer play for the program.
Finally, even if the reason claimed by Young for wanting the release (a desire to stay close to his ailing relative) isn’t the complete story, it’s complete enough. Providence certainly won’t try to disprove that he has a sick aunt — you don’t want to be wrong about that — which means that they’re really just concerned with this business involving the hiring of Young’s father to his current position and how it might have influenced Joseph into wanting to stay home and play at Houston. As far as that aspect is concerned, it’s important to recognize that Michael Young was not a new hire to the Houston program. Not only is he a former basketball star and graduate of UH, he’s worked there before in two different capacities, as stated above. It’s realistic enough to think that James Dickey hired the elder Young to his current post because of his commendable performance at his previous positions within the UH system, and the fact that Joseph is a prospect is coincidental. Even if the timing looks suspicious, unless Providence has evidence that definitely proves that Houston’s hiring of Michael Young was a ruse to get his son to play there, its not worth the bother if Joseph is willing to sit out a year, anyway.
Aside from the Joseph Young question, Providence has enough to deal with right now. Potential recruits, alumni, and fans all want to see an air of positivity and forward-thinking, and hear an agenda concerned with how the Friars are going to get back to prominence in the Big East. Keno Davis and his program have been dealt some rough hands this off-season, but given the ways he’s handled the prior offenders on his team, we still have faith that he knows which hands to keep and which ones to fold (like Joseph Young). This next season looks to be pretty rough for Providence, but the people in charge there have shown loyalty to a standard they’ve set for the school, and to principles to which they want their players to adhere. When leaders do that, and the principles are sound, good things usually happen.