The Other Shoe Dropped Against USC, Future Remains Bright in Friartown

Obviously the result of this game wasn’t what Providence fans wanted. The 15 point halftime lead never truly felt comfortable. That’s a product of watching plenty of Providence games over the years that has fans always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Usually that other shoe is a player transferring or an injury or a coach leaving that cripples the program in the short term and sometimes even the long term.

This year it was blowing a big lead in the second half of an NCAA Tournament game. And if you think about it, you realize how far this program has come under Ed Cooley when the other shoe doesn’t drop until the NCAA Tournament. Coming into a season when the team lost two players to the NBA Draft and was picked 9th in the preseason Big East coaches poll Providence earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. They now own the school record for being the first team in Providence’s history to make the NCAA Tournament four straight years. With the full complement of players expected back for next season plus the additions of two talented incoming freshmen big men the outlook for 2017-18 certainly seems higher than the one for this year’s team back in October.

But you aren’t ready to talk about next year yet. And that’s ok. But  keep in mind that Cooley is building a program at Providence and part of growth is failure. He’s now 1-4 in NCAA Tournament games. The optimist would point out that Cooley coaching in 5 NCAA Tournament games is a feat in of itself for a coach at little old Providence. Tim Welsh only coached in 2 in his 10 seasons with 0 wins. Providence has a unique situation with Cooley that he appears to be committed to the school to the extent that he isn’t looking to jump ship after some mild success. If that’s true then Providence fans need to remain committed to Cooley as he learns on the job to try to get the Friars over the hump and into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament and beyond.

Before this current stretch of four NCAA Tournament appearances in a row, Providence had been to the NCAA Tournament only 15 times. Cooley’s four appearances account for more than 21% of Providence’s all-time appearances in the Big Dance. Add in the NIT appearance in 2013 and Cooley’s five postseason appearances now account for more than 13% of all Providence postseason appearances in the school’s 90 seasons playing college basketball.

In 2014 after Providence got the Big East’s automatic bid by winning the Big East Tournament, it felt like Providence and Friar fans were just happy to be in the NCAA Tournament. A great back-and-forth game against 6 seed North Carolina that year had a tough finish but people remained positive after because it was Providence’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2004. Fast-forward to this season when it seemed like Providence and their fans were happy to be there but the attitude among the team and fans changed. Providence wasn’t just happy to be in the NCAA Tournament. That’s a subtle difference but shows how quickly expectations have changed in the last few seasons for a team that got their first NCAA Tournament since 1997 last March.

People being upset about blowing a lead in an NCAA Tournament game shows how far the Providence program has come under Cooley and that fact that it was a First Four game shows how far they still have to go. I tend to think this experience will only help Cooley down the line and he’s shown that he can continue to bring in talented recruits to keep the ball rolling in the right direction. At some point Providence will need to make a run to the Sweet 16. That point may even be next season.

But for now, try to look through the fog of this loss and realize that it was a fun year to see Kyron Cartwright step up to the plate and be in the top-5 in the country in assists, that it was fun to see Emmitt Holt step in and become part of the Friar family in no time, that it was fun to see Jalen Lindsey take a giant leap forward, that it was fun to see freshmen like Maliek White. Kalif Young and Alpha Diallo get better as the season went on, that it was fun to see the Friars in the NCAA Tournament. You don’t have to be happy about this loss and how it happened, but try to be happy for where your program is right now. The future remains bright in Friartown.

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13 thoughts on “The Other Shoe Dropped Against USC, Future Remains Bright in Friartown”

  1. great recruiter, ed is the man. average to below average strategy guy. tense up in the big moments every time. this dude tried to take a knee with 20 minutes lefts in the second half. play the game. u think youre gonna get free wins in the tourney? theyre from LA. they got some guys. totally different offensive approach in second half. will the committee even keep putting us in to lose in the first round again? if u cant make the sweet 16 this year with this draw it will never be done this is worse than dayton. staff needs to grow some nuttz and play the game instead of trying to run the clock out.

    1. A typical Friar fan overreaction. If you think Cooley is not a good game coach and strategist, you have not been watching anything but your own navel for the past six years.

      1. PC down 69-62 with 2:53. that means 18 points in 17 minutes. this is the typical u dont support the school if u have valid criticism crap. he did the same thing in the depaul game with a lead. he couldnt pick a lineup in game 33 last night. this was the draw. smu and a soft baylor team or maybe ian baker. like I said ed is the man and he reps but the strategy is weak.

    2. Could not agree MORE!! Cooley is a great recruiter but not the best in game coach. This team proved all year long that they did not know how to keep their foot on the gas and they proved it again last night. Ed C. is 1-3 in the NCAA tourney…not stellar at all.

  2. They are playing the game again on CBS sports network. USC is a very good team. It is unfortunate that PC did not maintain their focus. They were celebrating mid game like they had won. Huge mistake. This team barely missed beating UCLA. The road was really hard for PC this year. Everything including the officials turned against PC. Unfortunate loss. Good season spoiled by losing focus. You can’t ever do that in the NCAA’s. Ever.

    1. If this loss spoiled your season, then you don’t appreciate the fun of watching a program grow. The article you are commenting on gets it exactly right–until Cooley came, we never had the luxury of being upset about an NCAA loss.

  3. The Friars lacked an on-court leader last night. Next year, I think the leadership will come from Cartwright and/or Holt. I understand why Coach sat Holt when he did, but I can’t imagine him doing it again if he was given a do-over; he really was the only consistent presence PC had. Cartwright never really found his full groove, undoubtedly due to the early foul trouble. Bullock has all kinds of talent, but he needs to more consistently be big in big moments.

    Yes, the future is bright. I look for Lindsey to become a more consistent force. …but the Big East will never be a cakewalk. Hopefully some of the talent with remaining eligibility will leave early; no Friar is close to being ready to take a shot at the next level, which in a way is a good thing.

    1. With that stellar analysis, you’ve certainly convinced me, but too bad for URI they didn’t use that superior talent when they played PC.

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