Providence Continues to Make Late Night Madness a Big-time Event in Friartown

Two years ago I wrote an article titled “Why Providence’s Late Night Madness is Important.” I typed up that article after attending the 2014 event in Mullaney Gym that featured Jalen Rose as emcee and a performance by Big Sean. While some of my readers may not know who Big Sean is, the students and recruits who attended the event that year certainly did. Late Night Madness has been happening at Providence since Rick Pitino brought it to Friartown in 1985. The event had become quite stale in recent years with local artists who were not well-known by most people — let alone the students or recruits — being the main non-basketball entertainment, alongside the dance routines of various campus clubs and organizations. For lack of a better term, Late Night Madness at Providence had become small-time.

While other schools in the Big East were having  Trey Songz — a hip-hop artist who released a record that year that topped at #3 on the Billboard chart — perform the Friars managed to land Pawtucket artist Chachi Carvalho. No disrespect intended towards Mr. Carvalho, but I think it’s safe to say students and recruits in October 2009 had only heard of Trey Songz.

Ed Cooley has managed to turn this annual basketball season kickoff event into something big-time. Each year it seems like it gets bigger and more well produced. Credit needs to also be given to Bob Driscoll and Steve Napolillo for being willing to commit additional funds to attract big names to perform like Nick Cannon in 2013, Big Sean in 2014, Ludacris in 2015 and now Shaquille O’Neal in 2016.

Unsure whether getting Shaq to host and perform at Providence’s Late Night Madness in 2016 is something that recruits would respond to? I did an informal poll of some Providence recruits when the news first broke last Friday and here are some of the comments I got from them:

“That should be good. Shaq is a funny dude.”

“Shaq has a lot of character. I think he’s gonna turn up the whole building.”

“I LOVE IT ! Shaq is hilarious.”

When asked if they were more likely to attend, every recruit I spoke to said yes with one telling me “of course.” That’s kind of the point. Of course getting a name like Shaq to be at Providence’s Late Night Madness is a good thing. Of course it will attract recruits. Cooley is hoping to keep the momentum going with the Friars coming off three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1997. The first official day the team can practice is October 1st, but the true beginning of the basketball season will be on October 15th in Mullaney Gym when Cooley pumps up the crowd, talks about how great it is to have recruits in the house and Shaq does his thing with player intro’s and spinning some beats. That sounds pretty big-time to me.

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