Stew Milne/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Get ready for Providence-URI hoops

John Rooke
September 06, 2019 - 5:55 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to Butch Patrick?


  • One thing is certain – there’s a Friday night in Kingston, Rhode Island coming up in the not-too-distant future that will be one wild ride.  And for a 7th straight year, national eyes will be privy to the Ocean State version of the Hatfield’s vs. the McCoy’s.


  • And if you don’t understand the reference, Google it.


  • That date is December 6th for PC at URI, with ESPN2 peeking in.  7p tip.  Might want to plan on packing a lunch and pulling into town, oh, maybe by 3-ish?  Anyone need tickets?


  • As for the Big East portion of Providence’s schedule released this week – a couple of things stand out: 1) PC’s first national CBS game broadcast in 15 years will occur Jan. 25th, as the Friars host Villanova at the Dunk; 2) a stretch of five-out-of-seven on the road in conference play, over a four-week stretch mid-January to mid-February.


  • But the start out of the gate, with the New Years’ Eve game at the Dunk against Georgetown, is an opportunity to build real early momentum (3 of 5 at home) for what is likely to be another dog-eat-dog season in the Big East.  The strong(er) will survive for the post-season.


  • Everyone else?  Chewed up and spit out.  The middle of the Big East will be especially brutal.  But, wide open.


  • The season also ends with three of four at home.  But make sure you have pocket schedules handy – there are eight different start times for the nine home Big East games (thanks, TV), including some late nights at the Dunk.  Which should mean good business for the neighborhood bars downtown.


  • PC’s early preseason slate will include a closed scrimmage at Purdue on Oct. 27th, so says Purdue’s website.  The Boilermakers will apparently return the favor and travel to Providence next year (2020) for another closed scrimmage, instead of both teams playing exhibitions against other lower-division college teams.


  • URI’s basketball schedule was released Wednesday, and while the matchup with the Friars on that Friday night in Kingston on ESPN2 was certainly noteworthy, the Rams will have 13 nationally broadcast conference games as well.


  • 17 games total will be seen nationally, with others streamed via ESPN+.  Both VCU games and both Davidson games – the expected Atlantic-10 favorites – get the national treatment.  So the opportunity is there for Rhody to make a ruckus, certainly.


  • Very tough break for Boston College guard Wynston Tabbs, who will miss this season following surgery on his left knee.  The sophomore guard averaged nearly 14 points per game last season, after first injuring his knee in a game against Hartford.


  • surveyed more than 100 college basketball coaches this week, asking if they would support an Olympic-style plan allowing their athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.


  • Not surprisingly, more than 75% said they would approve of such a move by the NCAA.  Especially since many of these coaches at big schools are raking it in themselves.


  • There is a catch to consider, however. What’s to keep the bigger schools from taking advantage and getting their athletes more exposure through big-monied boosters? 


  • The answer? Nothing.  There would need to be some kind of a ‘cap’ put in place, to keep the Duke’s, Kentucky’s and Kansas’s from popping the cork more than they do already, perhaps.


  • But hey, look at the rankings and recruiting lists.  Those big boys are already at the top of the list, aren’t they?  So how much more damage (or advantage) would advertising profits really create?


  • Not for nuthin’, but legalized sports gambling in this country surpassed $10 billion in July. That’s still less than 10% of the illegal gambling which continues to exist out there.  Seems like there’s room for improvement, no?


  • In addition to Rhode Island (and New Hampshire in 2020), Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia, Tennessee, N. Carolina, Delaware, New York, Arkansas, New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, Montana and Indiana have all legalized sports gambling. 


  • Massachusetts and Maine are expected to legally approve sports gambling next year, with Connecticut (as strangely as it sounds) not participating until 2021.  Vermont has no plan to legalize.


  • RI has also gone to the head of this class, going “live” with mobile sports gambling, one of seven states to have online and/or phone wagering.  What a country.  If we could get our politicians to be as responsive as the gaming industry?


  • Anyone else see that the Worcester city council passed a motion this week, authorizing officials to ‘reach out’ to the Celtics and express interest in bringing their G League team (the Maine Red Claws) to town? 


  • Worcester, obviously, is feeling pretty good about itself these days.  Wonder if Portland, Maine will have any say here?  The Celtics recently signed an agreement to purchase the Red Claws, but the team has a lease to play in Portland through 2024.


  • And why Worcester?  Just because they stole the Pawsox from Pawtucket?  What about Providence as a possible option at the Dunk – if not Portland?  Do we have any forward-thinking, right-minded politicos around who could explore this option? 


  • The first night game in 47 years for URI football is Saturday night, when the Rams kick-off against 21st ranked Delaware.  The new turf, and stadium lighting, looks spectacular.  Hope the Rams’ performance can keep up with the revamped facility.


  • URI dropped its’ opener to FBS Ohio University 41-20 on the road last week – with senior receiver Aaron Parker having a game with nine catches for 144 yards and a touchdown.  League high numbers for Week One.


  • Following a 35-10 loss to Stony Brook in Game One, Bryant gets another CAA team on the road this week in Albany. 


  • If you follow college football at all – and I’m not suggesting you should, but maybe you should expand your horizons – has anyone else noticed how the one-time offensive coaching gurus are now having a hard time moving the ball and scoring points?


  • Chip Kelly at UCLA. Kevin Sumlin at Arizona. Philip Montgomery at Tulsa.  Dino Babers at Syracuse?  One-time offensive wunderkinds have had the game catch up to them, it seems.  But if you paid attention, history says that happens all the time. 


  • Love this – he may have been down, but not out.  Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze coached his team from a hospital bed against Syracuse last week, thanks to some serious back spasms and a staph infection.  The Flames lost to the Orange, 24-0.


  • This week, he graduates to a ‘dental chair?’  If I’m Louisiana-Lafayette, which is where Liberty plays this week, I’m definitely cutting the water to his spit sink.  And playing loud “drilling” noises over the PA.


  • BC’s debut was rock-solid against Virginia Tech, getting a home win without the apparent over-use or reliance on superstar back A.J. Dillon.  His health is a huge key to the Eagles’ ultimate success – or failure – in the ACC.


  • UConn’s debut was non-descript-to-disappointing, beating back a challenge from FCS Wagner.  But a win is a win – and the 24-21 victory matches last season’s entire win total, at one.  A road trip, and ostensibly a tougher test, to Illinois awaits. 


  • Disappointing to learn the great Dick Groat is out after 40 years of teaming up with Bill Hillgrove on Pitt basketball radio broadcasts.  Apparently, he wasn’t looking to retire just yet, even at age 88, but some school officials thought otherwise. 


  • Groat is a former MLB MVP at shortstop (1960) for the Pirates who also happened to play basketball at Duke.  A guy like that should be allowed to make his own decisions, don’t you think?  Shame on you, Pitt.


  • Congratulations to Joel Utley, the long-time radio voice at Kentucky Wesleyan.  This season is his 59th year of calling the action, the longest active tenure for a college voice, and he turned 80 this week.  I’d like to be him when I grow up.


  • Former Brown hockey captain Ricky Olczyk was named this week as the Assistant General Manager for the new Seattle NHL team.  He had previously served in a similar role with Carolina and Edmonton.


  • TB12 outlasted Manning, Luck; trained Brissett.  Worked alongside Hoyer.  Shouldn’t he get some kind of remuneration from the Colts for all of his hard work in schooling their QB’s?


  • Tweet of the Week, from @espn: “There are only three teams that haven’t played on Wild Card weekend since 2010 – the Browns, the Bucs, the Patriots.”


  • Not buying the hype on the Browns.  Don’t think the depth is there for them to get through the season to where everyone seems to think they’ll go – and that’s to the playoffs. 


  • The only Patriots roster decision that really surprised?  Brian Hoyer.  But my thought is the Patriots did him a solid by releasing him, rather than keeping him or trading him.  He got guaranteed money from the Colts in a multi-year deal. 


  • That’s BB’s way of saying ‘thanks for all you’ve done.’


  • Gunner Olszewski is the new fan favorite, I suppose.  Until Chase Winovich unleashes his long, blond locks on an unsuspecting QB (Ben Roethlisberger?), and order is restored within Patriot Fandom.


  • What worries me about the Steelers: 1) Their ability to apply pressure up the middle, and the Patriots have a new center in Ted Karras; 2) They’re faster defensively, which could provide trouble for a TB12 short passing game.


  • It’s the 100th season of the National Football League, even though the NFL doesn’t reach 100 until next year.  Huh?  Well, the NFL was born in 1920.  Do the math.


  • While the Pawsox had their issues with attendance at McCoy this season – for obvious reasons, mostly – the Hartford Yard Goats led the Eastern League in overall attendance, in their 3rd year at Dunkin Donuts Park. 


  • What a sight to see ex-Hendricken Hawk Rocco Baldelli back at Fenway as manager of the Minnesota Twins.  Manager of the Year in the American League?  Has to be. 


  • And his Twins this week helped put the final nail in the Red Sox’ playoff coffin, taking two of three.  6 ½ back with three weeks left?  Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.  Just sayin’.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez his next door neighbor Jones won a toy at a recent golf tournament raffle and offered it up to the neighborhood kids.  He asked them “who is the most obedient?”  They all pointed to the oldest one.  “Who never talks back to their mother?”  They all pointed to the middle one.  “And who does everything mother says?”


  • Five small voices replied together – “Ok Mr. Jones, you win!”


  • Ever get one of those ‘ear-worms’ when you wake up in the morning?  You know, for some strange reason, a song plays in your head that you just can’t shake?  Happened to me this week, with the theme to the old 1960’s TV sitcom, The Munsters.


  • Now that it has begun rattling around in your own head, it got me wondering what had ever happened to one-time child actor Butch Patrick, who played the Munsters’ son Eddie on the show.  He’s still embracing his role – and earning income from it – in his after-life.


  • His given name is Patrick Alan Lilley, discovered by talent agents at age seven.  He landed the role of the childhood werewolf, Eddie Munster, at age 11 in 1964.  The series lasted for only two seasons (yes, really!) and some 70 episodes for Patrick, but he still benefits from his one-time role by appearing at various events and shows and posing as Eddie Munster.  At age 66.


  • If we’re talking pure ROI, Eddie Munster (Eddie Munster?!?) has it over all of us, it seems.


  • @jimdonaldsonjr tweeted at me: “Hey @JRBroadcaster! How is it that @TexasFootball, ranked #9, is a 6.5 point ‘dog at home vs. #6 @LSUFootball? Seems high…thoughts?”


  • James:  Should be a great early-season college game in Austin, Texas.  Texas’ QB Sam Ehlinger is the ‘X factor.’  Runs exceptionally well, passing is continually improving – especially on deep balls. Won’t be surprised if he’s a legit Heisman candidate when all is over with, and there’s a long way to go.  Think LSU has had the benefit of SEC-bias, however.  We’ll see Saturday night. 


  • But I agree with the spread.  Would rather be the hunter, than the hunted.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, ...


Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.