Goss: Providence has pieces for interesting winter
BY DICK GOSS email@example.com November 27, 2013 7:56PM
Miles Boykin, of Providence. | FILE PHOTO
Updated: December 30, 2013 12:20PM
Thanksgiving basketball tournaments provide coaches with opportunities.
They get their first chance to see where their teams stand relative to live competition, learn more about the areas that need work and determine who should start and who can contribute off the bench.
Winning games is on the list as well because it always is. Everyone wants to win every game. But that generally is not the be-all and end-all the first week of the season.
In the case of Providence, however, the goals are a bit different.
The Celtics’ football season ended Nov. 16 in the quarterfinals. Miles Boykin, Nate Vejvoda, Jake Rost and Sean McGrath were key roster members in football and also contribute to one of the area’s deepest basketball teams.
Because their football season lasted as long as it did, the Celtics had only two full practices with everyone aboard before the WJOL Thanksgiving Classic tipped off Monday. You would never know it from the way they played in beating Plainfield Central 62-41 on opening night.
“We played real well for where I thought we would be,” said Providence coach Tim Trendel, whose Celtics were expecting a challenge from improved Lockport in their second tournament game Wednesday night.
Anytime Providence can win, even at Thanksgiving, it matters.
“The unfortunate thing with the schedule we play is every game is huge for state tournament seeds,” Trendel explained. “So we’re looking at every game all season as a must-win, especially now that we are stepping up into 4A.”
The schedule is daunting, but if the Celtics need victories, they have the horses to get the job done. There is no 6-foot-9 All-State center, but Trendel can trot out some long, strong bodies, in the 6-3 to 6-6 range, to bother opposing offenses.
It begins with Boykin, who is 6-6, a Division I prospect as a receiver and was an All-Area selection in basketball as a sophomore. When the Celtics, who like to create turnovers and run, get Boykin out in the open floor, good luck trying to stop him. He opened with a 16-point, 10-rebound, six-assist night against Plainfield Central.
“Miles will give people fits,” Trendel said. “He plays that point forward, and he is one of the most athletic players in the post that I have seen.”
Boykin and Vejvoda were with the varsity last season as sophomores. Rost, Tyler Pygon, Jack Brody and Troy Howat are juniors off last year’s 25-1 sophomore team who will get significant playing time.
“Those kids can step in and not miss a beat,” Trendel said. “That’s a credit to the coaches on our lower levels. The kids have learned our system.”
Nick DiNardi, a 6-6 senior post player, is hobbled with an ankle and knee, and Trendel does have concern there. But when the health is good, the Celtics are at least nine deep.
All-everything point guard Kevin Kozan graduated and moved on to Henderson State, an NCAA Division II program in Arkansas, where he is averaging 8.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 steals for a team with a 4-3 record. He has to be missed, but the Celtics can compensate in different ways.
“We have more bigs on the perimeter than most, and we have kids who can shoot it,” Trendel said.
Trendel gave an example of the effect of the Celtics’ length.
“We were kind of scared of (Logan) Velasquez,” he said of Plainfield Central’s 6-4 senior, who averaged more than 14 points and 11 rebounds last season. “He’s really a good player. But maybe he doesn’t see groups of guys like we have very often.”
Velasquez made 3-of-11 shots and scored six points that night.
Granted, the sample size is limited at this juncture. The feeling here, however, is Providence has the pieces — including the coach in Trendel — to make this an interesting winter.