Providence coach Ed Cooley

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Thinking out loud: Huge week for Providence hoops

John Rooke
March 06, 2020 - 11:59 am
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Thinking out loud…while wondering if Bird, McHale or Parrish could walk through the door tomorrow…

  • Can’t wait for next week.  And it has zero to do with TB12.

 

  • Providence continues its renaissance with a tough-minded, winning performance in one of the best games of the season – anywhere - against Xavier Wednesday night. 

 

  • 15-point first half lead.  X comes back.  Five times in the second half, the Musketeers pulled within a point, ready to deliver a right-cross to the Friars’ collective chin(s). 

 

  • PC ducked each one of those rather deftly, thanks to two seniors – Alpha Diallo and Luwane Pipkins…with Pip now living up to what was expected of him before the year began.

 

  • Overall, however, these Friars do it with defense, giving up less than a point-per-possession in Big East play.  Villanova had an off day in the big road win last weekend, but the Friar defense was a factor in challenging most of those deep balls.

 

  • And yet, it was the offense over Xavier that scored 80 points, when we expected a rock fight.  Silly us.

 

  • Pip Pip, Hooray!  Love it.  Next person to hear me drop it on the radio gets a shout-out.

 

  • Also love that Pipkins has found his swag again, like he had last summer before tweaking his knee in Pan Am Games practices.  

 

  • By my count now, that’s four Friars who can potentially put the team on their shoulders if needed.  And you do need that – if you hope to win in March.

 

  • The latest update – PC looks locked in to the four-seed next week at MSG, so plan on a 2:30 ET tip on Thursday.  Against whom we do not yet know.  Likely Butler or Marquette, with a slimmer-than-slim chance it could be X.

 

  • We could also have tri-champs in the regular season, and in that case Creighton would get the top seed and become the potential opponent for the Friars in Friday’s semis.  Anyone against that?

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but the current #8 national ranking for Seton Hall is their highest ranking since 2000. 

 

  • You want a team that can win in March Madness?  The Pirates remain as good a bet as any to keep your brackets from imploding after the first weekend.  Villanova coach Jay Wright said as much Wednesday night.  After beating Seton Hall, too.  Just sayin’.

 

  • ICYMI, the Friars Also Received Votes this week in the AP Top 25 thanks to their February run.  November seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

 

  • Think the league is lacking in star power?  Marquette’s Markus Howard is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award (point guard), Seton Hall’s Myles Powell, Creighton’s TyShon Alexander and Butler’s Kamar Baldwin are three of five finalists for the Jerry West Award (shooting guard). 

 

  • Villanova’s Saddiq Bey and Xavier’s Naji Marshall are two of five finalists for the Julius Erving (small forward) Award, too.  Pretty solid reppin’ by Big East schools and athletes on a national level.

 

  • Did I mention I can’t wait for next week at MSG?  It. Just. Might. Be. Off. The. Charts.

 

  • The Big East at 40 on FS1 this week brought back some superb memories of life in the old league.  But I’m not sure it brought out the best of what is good about the newer version.  Looked like a late-night, hour-long infomercial.  But wait, there’s more!

 

  • Where is Rhody now?  They’ll need to win the Atlantic-10 tournament next week to dance, most likely.  What a crushing two-week stretch.  It was right there for them, too.

 

  • Dayton is a team that has its’ highest ranking in 64 years.  Sometimes, you’re just destined for greatness, and the Flyers proved as much against the Rams Wednesday.

 

  • And what about those Rams?  To start with, too many fans get too worked up in trolling Friar fans via social media over one game in early December.  And it goes the other way, too.  21st century trash-talk at its finest.

 

  • But Ram fans?  How about simply supporting your guys first?  Seems as if they could use it right now.

 

  • URI is still a good team.  The lack of ‘quality wins,’ for whatever that’s worth, dogs their postseason chances this year.  Don’t know how you fix that one, except to win the ones you do get to play.  And they didn’t.

 

  • Except for the big one in December.  Clearly, they’re placing a lot of eggs in just one basket.

 

  • A college basketball season = marathon.  Not a sprint.  Not just about November and December.

 

  • What about Brown?  The Bears blew their chance last weekend with losses to Princeton and Penn and need to sweep this weekend at Harvard (ouch!) and Dartmouth to have a shot at the Ivy tournament.  Nothing like making things difficult on yourselves.

 

  • Bryant’s season ended in the NEC quarterfinals this week at Saint Francis, 87-61.  Senior Adam Grant finished his career with 1837 career points, #2 in Bryant’s DI history.

 

  • With eight total NEC Rookie of the Week honors as a team, no huge surprise that Bryant’s Michael Greene took the NEC Rookie of the Year award.  2nd in league scoring, 1st in assists among freshmen.

 

  • ICYMI too – CCRI’s men’s hoop team won the New England region XXI juco championship last Sunday against Gateway CC, moving their record to 23-10.  A return trip to the nationals (in Rochester, MN) awaits next week for the first time in eight years.

 

  • And of course, there was a story in the ProJo last week about the home of the Knights in Warwick, Vin Cullen Fieldhouse, soon being ‘repurposed’ for the campus community-at-large.

 

  • Athletics will be at least temporarily relocated to the north, several miles away on the Lincoln campus, potentially putting teams at a competitive disadvantage.  

 

  • This is SO Rhode Island.  Sports have always excelled at CCRI.  But let’s mess around with what we already do well?  That’s not leadership.  Sometimes, stupid is as stupid does.

 

  • Definitely not stupid.  Smaht.  Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun has taken a fledgling D3 program at Hartford’s University of St. Joseph’s – with an all-female student body two years ago – and led the men’s basketball team to the GNAC league title in its’ second year of existence.

 

  • I’m not buying into the frenzy created over the Coronavirus, sorry.  Should we be more vigilant in our personal health habits?  Of course.  If you’re sick, stay home.  But the fact that this virus strain could be an actual threat to the NCAA Tournament?

 

  • Or to any sporting event where large gatherings of humans interact?  The Wall Street Journal ran a story this week on teams and leagues across the globe postponing or cancelling competition.  The numbers are growing. 

 

  • Yet, the IOC says Tokyo’s Olympics are still on. There’s simply not much evidence that limiting mass audiences is really much benefit.  The Vancouver Winter Games were held in the aftermath of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009-10.

 

  • Fine.  You want to stay away, go for it.  You’ll miss out, and I’ll enjoy it.  Life goes on.

 

  • Saw this nugget on the biz pages this week - Purell now costs more per ounce than a $199 bottle of champagne on Amazon.com.

 

  • Some convenience, that Amazon.  Nice job stoking the frenzied flames of fear in your loyal, on-line buying public.

 

  • As TB12 Turns, we are still no closer to a resolution to this off-season soap opera-of-a-story.  I’m pretty much tuned out.  Wake me when it’s over.

 

  • But this rumored, silly TB12-to-SF-for-JimmyG deal?  You have my attention.  Fantasy or reality? 

 

  • Because of this TB12 saga, it appears no one in the NFL can get anything done right now.  Schedule-makers in New York can’t slot games for TV dates because they don’t know where the big QB’s will be playing. 

 

  • And we don’t know where the QB’s will be playing until TB12’s decision starts the domino effect.

 

  • It’s not “Countdown to TB12 Decision Day,” it’s “Day 42 – New England (and the NFL World) Held Hostage.”

 

  • Think he’s enjoying his ‘moment’ in this spotlight?  Like at the Syracuse-NC game last weekend with Jules, Jimmy Fallon and Mike Vrabel-via-FaceTime? 

 

  • He’s playing all of us like a Stradivarius violin.

 

  • So when will we know?  March 16?  Maybe.  March 18?  Probably.  And for the Patriots? 

 

  • As soon as the NFLPA votes on the current CBA offer from ownership.  It is expected, narrowly, to pass.  As such, the Patriots will then know what their immediate fiscal future entails, including bringing home TB12 at a reasonable price.

 

  • If the CBA isn’t approved – and the vote is out, should be completed by next Thursday according to several – it’s back to the drawing board.  Back to last year’s rules, for the present. 

 

  • And back to the possibility of Brady’s departure.  His chances of remaining a Patriot would take a huge hit.

 

  • Other Patriot needs (besides QB) are coming into focus.  But you already know the need – TE, WR, OL.  Maybe a safety and a linebacker, too.  Seems like that pretty much covers the whole team, doesn’t it?

 

  • Love him or hate him, Tony Romo’s new deal with CBS is worth more money (10 years, $180 million) than Jerry Jones PAID for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989.  I can only applaud.

 

  • To think, however, that it could have been Peyton Manning in his place, who reportedly turned down that dough to climb into the TV spotlight. 

 

  • It’s ok with me though.  Manning has a bit of ‘smarm’ that I’m not certain would translate well on TV, and if ESPN pairs him with Al Michaels for MNF – you’ll find out what I’m sayin’.

 

  • Romo, for all of his “eeeeee’s” and ooooooh’s,” is a pretty smaht guy as his predictive nature suggests every week. 

 

  • Heard this week that one of my former employers, NBC Sports Radio, may be closing up shop for good after Westwood One announced they will no longer distribute the service at the end of this month.  A lot of good people may be out of radio work, including Patriot Hall of Famer Rodney Harrison.

 

  • 58 years ago this week, on March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain dropped a hunnerd in an NBA game.  It was played in Hershey, PA.  There was no TV.  Barely any radio.  So that incredible performance drifts largely into inconsequence over time.

 

  • Can you imagine if that happened today?  Twitter would break.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

 

  • ICYMI, three – The PBruins are also killing it at the Dunk, just like the Friars.  Providence is on an eight-game winning streak heading into this weekend’s play. 

 

  • But we still can’t keep the floor from sweating during hoop or get proper working internet in the building, which is quickly becoming – sorry! – outdated again.  #RIProbz

 

  • Tweet of the Week, from @bostonradio: “Red Sox have quickly become the Corona Virus of Boston sports.”

 

  • The upcoming Red Sox season is already an absolute, unequivocal disaster-in-the-making.  Overreaction much?

 

  • Not when Chris Sale had an MRI, again, on a sore elbow after throwing batting practice (BP!) this week.  It’s a flexor strain.  Considering his elbow bends at an ungodly angle every time he throws a ball, it’s amazing his forearm is still attached to his upper arm. 

 

  • Trade for Sale?  Great.  Extend Sale when his arm is ready to fall off?  Not great.  I feel for him, I do.  I also feel duped.  What say you about this stroke of idiotic brilliance, Sox ownership?

 

  • No Sale.  No Betts.  No Price.  No Verdugo to start the year.  No Pedey.  No Holt.  No reliable bullpen, just flotsam and jetsam.  No Cora, even.  Good luck, Chaim Bloom and Ron Roenicke.

 

  • But this ain’t the team you thought you were inheriting.  And strangely, a bit more like Tampa now, isn’t it? 

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he’s got a friend at his gym who fancies himself a bit of a ladies’ man.  He spied a rather hot-looking blonde one day and asked “E” ‘hey, what machine here do you think I should go use to impress her?”  Big “E” looked his buddy over, and suggested “how about the ATM out in the lobby?”

 

  • PC’s Abbey Wheeler was named co-most outstanding track performer at the Big East Championships this past week, after winning both the 3000-meter and 5000-meter events.

 

  • PC Lax is off to a 4-1 start with a win in the Ocean State Cup, their best start in five years. 

 

  • The nation’s second-longest NCAA tourney streak – six – may be on the line for PC hockey this weekend against Maine.  They need a win in Orono to first clinch a spot in the Hockey East tournament.

 

  • Got this from the Bruins this week – NESN’s coverage of the best-record-in-the-NHL team is up 49% over this time a year ago.  Highest viewership in four seasons.  Nearly two million unique viewers.

 

  • Yeah, winning a lot will do that for you.  Duh.  Can the playoffs start tomorrow?

 

  • Can you believe it has been 20 years since Rick Pitino’s “Larry Bird’s not walking through that door, fans” rant to the media?  Twenty years. I wonder, does Pitino still believe all the negativity in this town still sucks, too?

 

  • Or is it truly the straw that stirs the drink around here?  We’ve had so much to celebrate in 20 years but going negative has always been the one thing that can bring out passion and energy in New England. 

 

  • And, get the fans to call-in, buy newspapers (whatever is left) and watch the news.  Negativity has always worked here, even going back to the time of the Boston Tea Party.  It’s who we are, it’s what we do best.  It’s in our DNA.

 

  • Negativity continues to stand the test of time.  Pitino is long gone.

 

  • @gpelt1 tweeted at me this week on the Big East Tournament: “If Seton Hall beats Creighton, can Providence move to a 3 seed assuming they beat DePaul?”

 

  • Florida Friar – it’s mathematically possible, but not likely.  There’s anywhere from a two-to-five percent chance, based on the teams that win Saturday the Friars could slide up to #3 and play at 9:30 Thursday.  Georgetown has to beat Villanova for it to happen.  There’s also a way to move to the 3-seed if Creighton wins, too…but the possibilities make my brain hurt.  Best bet – stay tuned.

 

  • 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 jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

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.