With six games under their belt so far this season, a 4-2 record isn’t so bad for the Providence Friars. While two losses in November hasn’t been the norm for Providence during Ed Cooley’s tenure as the leader in Friartown, those two losses haven’t sent Friar fans into a depression. In fact, if you check some online college basketball odds you’ll find Providence still getting plenty of respect from the oddsmakers for their matchup against New Hampshire on Wednesday night.
There is no mistaking the difficult task Cooley has in keeping the momentum rolling of three straight NCAA Tournament trips and four straight postseason tournament appearances, overall. But on Tuesday night during his radio show hosted by John Rooke, Cooley mentioned patience a few times.
Cooley referenced patience both in the sense that Friar fans will have to be patient with this 2016-17 group of players and he also mentioned that he has to remember to be patient with his team, something he admitted to struggling with. The irony for Cooley is that he finally has legitimate Big East talent to pull off the bench when a player on the court makes a mistake, but he wants to allow his kids, especially the freshmen, to learn from mistakes on the court.
“We, as a staff, have got to make sure we’re patient, we’re encouraging and giving those guys freedom to grow and not overreact if they make a mistake,” Cooley said during the radio broadcast on WEEI.
What Friar fans have seen through six games is a bunch of players that are growing together as a team. Some of the inconsistent play, especially on the offensive end, shouldn’t be a surprise for a group that is still searching for go-to players. One potential member of this team that could fit that bill is Kyron Cartwright. “This team is going to go as far as Kyron can take us…As he continues to improve I think our team will improve,” said Cooley of his veteran ball handler.
Cooley also discussed the need to let his young players get game experience. “We have to continue to develop our youth,” Cooley said when discussing freshmen Alpha Diallo, Kalif Young and Maliek White. All three have seen solid minutes over the course of the first six games. Young has played the most due to an injury to Emmitt Holt that sidelined him against St. Francis (NY).
Mixing the new and old, inexperienced and veteran has been something that presented the most intrigue for many in the early part of Providence’s season. Cooley believes he’s still figuring it out. “It’s been a difficult battle [to figure out lineups]. Each group you put together has a different identity.”
“Our expectation is to win every game,” Cooley said. “We also know that when you have transition and you lose great players you as the coach have to be patient with your own expectations. As much as I expect to win every single game, we have a non-conference schedule that is very competitive and obviously playing in the Big East is very, very hard.”
As much excitement as there has been from Friar fans about seeing players like Rodney Bullock, Jalen Lindsey and Cartwright take steps forward and the highly touted freshmen integrate into the college game, watching Cooley coach this team will be just as exciting. With 199 career wins on his ledger, Cooley’s best as a head coach could still be to come. It could even be this season with a team that requires patience, both from the coach himself and the fans.
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