Former PC hoop assistant joins Central Florida staff
ORLANDO, Fla. – Recognized as one of the best recruiters in the nation, Steve DeMeo has joined the University of Central Florida men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Kirk Speraw announced Friday. DeMeo spent the last 10 seasons at Providence, where he served as the Friars’ associate head coach for four years.
During his time at Providence, the Friars participated in the postseason on five occasions, including a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament. DeMeo also helped Providence finish in the top three in the BIG EAST standings three times.
After joining the Providence staff in 1998, DeMeo led the Friars’ recruiting efforts. He successfully recruited several future All-BIG EAST performers, including Ryan Gomes and Marcus Douthit. Gomes garnered All-America honors in 2003-04 and was selected in the 2005 National Basketball Association Draft by the Boston Celtics. Douthit was picked in the 2004 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
A New York City native, DeMeo was recognized as one of the top-25 assistant coaches in the country by Rivals.com in 2007.
“We are fortunate to attract a quality coach like Steve DeMeo to UCF. He brings an impressive list of credentials and a proven track record to our staff,” Speraw said. “As the associate head coach at Providence, he helped the program attract several successful recruiting classes. Steve is also a great teacher who brings a wealth of experience to UCF.”
PC's Xavier to play for Cape Verdean national team
Providence College's Jeff Xavier will join the Cape Verdean national team as it attempts to qualify for the Summer Olympics in Beijing, according to the PC Athletics Department.
Xavier, who went to St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, led the Friars in scoring last season. He will leave Rhode Island on Sunday for training camp, then continue to Athens, Greece, where his team will face New Zealand on July 15. Cape Verde will attempt to become one of 12 teams competing in Greece to receive an Olympics invitation.
Mike Tranghese, the long-time commissioner of the Big East and the conference's very first employee nearly 30 years ago, has decided to step down after next year. Tranghese will leave the conference in June, 2009, he said today.
"It's been 30 years and 19 years as commissioner. It's time for someone else," said Tranghese, a Bristol resident.
Tranghese, 64, has always harbored a distinct fear of flying that he says is getting worse with both time and the lack of larger aircraft in the industry.
"I have an incredible fear of flying that's only gotten worse. I really detest it," he said. "In order to do this job right, you have to go out and see all of our people."
Tranghese said he felt the time was right to leave next June because the Big East is on such strong ground. The conference expanded to 16 schools three years ago and the move has made the basketball conference the deepest and strongest it's ever been. On the football side, recent improvements at Rutgers, Connecticut and South Florida have solidified a group that was severely harmed by the exit of Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech four years ago to the ACC.
"I wanted to leave at a time when I thought things were in place and our presidents can go out and hire someone who can be successful," he said. "If I thought we were in trouble in any way, I would not leave right now."
Tranghese left his publicist job at Providence College in 1979 to become the Big East's first employee as Dave Gavitt's right-hand man. The two went on to spear-head the formation of the conference and have always run it from their downtown Providence offices. When Gavitt left the commissioner's post to run the Boston Celtics, Tranghese was the easy choice to succeed him.
Who will be the next Big East commish? "Bill Flynn, the great former Boston College athletic director, once said `it's up to you to decide when to leave and it's up to them to decide who to replace you.' I don't think I should decide who succeeds me."
Former PC athletic director John Marinatto is currently the Big East's senior associate commissioner. Dan Gavitt, the son of Dave Gavitt, is the associate commissioner in charge of basketball and is well thought of. So is Nick Carparelli, the associate commissioner in charge of football.
A group of league presidents is likely to meet and decide on how they wish to go about naming a successor.
Kevin McNamara filed this dispatch on the College Hoops blog yesterday. In case you missed it, here's what he had to say:
We've been buried by coverage of the Boston Celtics' playoff run for a few weeks now (with no end in sight) so PC news is slim at the moment. Here are a few nuggets:
COACHING STAFF. Keno Davis is a few days away from announcing his coaching staff. It will contain Chris Davis and Rodell Davis from Drake, giving PC its first Midwest-based recruiters since the Rick Barnes Era. Barnes came with extensive ties in that area from his days at Ohio State.
Davis will also hire Pat Skerry, the URI assistant who's led an effort to stock that program with several good, young prospects. Skerry could be very useful right away since the New England area is set to produce one of its best classes of seniors and juniors in the last 10 years. Kevin Kurbec, the administrative asst. to Tim Welsh, is also expected to be on this staff.
RECRUITS: While the Friars say goodbye to Dwain Williams (a huge loss in my eyes. Just ask Jim Calhoun) and Chuck Burch, they're set to welcome one recruit, big forward Bilal Dixon. He wasn't originally comfortable with the coaching switch but he really feels he fits in at PC right now. Keno Davis is also shopping for a guard for the fall. Right now the leads are few. Some could develop over the summer, perhaps, in the form of a sudden qualifier, European, D-2 transfer, ect.
INJURIES: Both Geoff McDermott (sprained knee) and Sharaud Curry (broken foot) are not allowed to play hoops right now. PC doesn't play next week so that's not a problem but this is not good news. McDermott's knee can best be termed `balky.' Rest won't make all his issues disappear. Curry had surgery in April and will miss most, if not all, of the summer. How close will he be to 100 percent in October for the start of practice? Who knows. But with no other PG in the program right now, this is Davis' biggest concern. He knows how Tim Welsh must have felt all last season.
SCHEDULE: The change in coaching staffs disrupted scheduling and the Friars are behind in the quest to secure games. Davis would like to create a 4-team tourney hosted in Providence, ala the Fleet Classic, but that's not likely to happen for a few years. Bottom line? With games set against BC and URI, plus a strong tournament in Anaheim, the Friars might need only one other tough game. The problem is filling up the slate with weaker foes who've already been spoken for.
CHARITY: Finally, my most important note. Spoke with Ryan Gomes last week and just received correspondence for a charity dinner/golf tourney he is hosting in Southington, Conn. next month. Gomes has started a Hoops For Heart charity with a goal of preventing sudden cardiac arrests at basketball games. This has been an issue at AAU events and Gomes and his supporters, with a big shout out to Wayne Simone, would like a working defibrillator and someone trained to use one at every practice and game in Div. 1 college basketball.
Gomes is holding a charity dinner on June 16 and a golf outing June 17. Keno Davis, Tim Welsh and Billy Donovan are some of the coaches expected to attend. Gomes wants to welcome all PC fans to attend either event or donate to the cause.
LANGSTON, Okla. (AP) - New Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford will make about $9 million over seven years under a deal revealed Friday at a regents meeting.
The contract calls for Ford to make $1.3 million per year.
He replaces Sean Sutton, who resigned April 1 under pressure.
Sutton's original buyout package called for him to make $2.7 million over 10 years, but tax considerations have led officials to restructure the deal to give him $2.2 million, with him to receive full payment by the end of this year.
Ford, who took Massachusetts to the NIT the last two seasons, was introduced as Oklahoma State's new coach Thursday. Earlier this month, he turned down the PC job and received a new contract from UMass.
Bill Reynolds took questions from projo.com readers today about PC basketball. He was a late substitution for Kevin McNamara, who is in Boston today covering the Celtics (hence the questions addressed to Kevin). Here's a full transcript of the hour-long chat.
Bill Reynolds: hello everybody, i'm pinch-hitting for Kevin McNamara, who has disappeared somewhere, so here goes
gboy: KMac, what was the extent of Keno's playing career?
Bill Reynolds: Gboy, keno played through high school, then went to Iowa where his father was the coach and he became a glorified grad assistant and worked out with the team
ggrossi: since the PC team is senior laden, any ideas about what type of player Keno favors and if anyone he had targeted for Drake might end up at PC/ thanks
Bill Reynolds: ggrossi, i have no idea about what kind of players keno prefers, but I know that he likes pressure defense and his team this year took a lot of threes. But, as you said, it's a senior laden team and he needs players, a lot of them. that's the real work right now, as he is getting the job late and after next season this program is bereft of talent.
Fitzy: Any leads on where Brown is going with its search process?
Bill Reynolds: Fitzy, i have no idea on the brown job, for they haven't even gotten all the applications yet. Their time frame is to have a coach in about a month. stay tuned.
email@example.com: Is the recruiting year over or is it still going on
Bill Reynolds: magmay77, the recruiting year is never over, especially now when the entire process has been speeded up, many of the top juniors having already committed. The point is that recruiting now is a 12-month process.
Big Hoops Fan: Kev - Do you find it humorous that Davis looks like Bruschi's brother? As a Pat's fan, I hope he brings the same amount of intensity to Friar's hoops as Bruschi did to the Pat's "D".
Bill Reynolds: Big Hoops Fan, I didn't see the connection to bruschi until you brought it up. but you're right. if he brings the same intensity things will be great
THL: Good afternoon Kevin. My question centers around the ultimate make up of Coach Davis' staff. Do you have any opinions that relate? Do you feel that Griffin and Kurbec will ultimately end up as part of that staff? If, I believe his name is Chad Davis, does not become the new HC at Drake, he will come to join the staff here and KD will need to hire another coach with northeast ties. If he does not come to PC, obviously 2 more coaches will need to be hired. I do have the opinion that both Griffen and Kurbec will be retained.
Bill Reynolds: THL, you're right. the makeup of davis's staff will depend on who gets the drake job. he said the other day that he is definitely looking for someone who has experience recruiting on the east coast, which only makes sense. what that means for either griffin or kurbec I have no idea, but history tells us that most coaches bring their own people in.
steve: 1. Will coach Davis bring in any recruits for next season?
Bill Reynolds: Steve, the friars have one kid already signed, and don't have room for any more in next year's class unless someone leaves. there's been talk of Dwain Williams doing that, but so far anyway, that's just talk. So I suspect that next year's team will look very much like last year's.
Fabulous Friar: Hi Kevin - how much was Keno involved in the recruitmen of players at Drake, and what is the 'word on the street' about his recruiting prowess?
Bill Reynolds: Fabulous Friar, the word is he was very involved.
Dan: Hi Bill, question. Do you think Providence got lucky considering the long drawn out search?
Bill Reynolds: Dan, I think davis is an excellent choice, a smart young coach on the way up, exactly the kind of coach I always thought they should have hired. And he's the coach of the year to boot. hey, you roll the dice with any new coach, but it seems to me that this was a real good get.
steve: 2.how much of a disadvantage is it in recruiting players on the east coast given the fact that most of your recruiting as an assistant and head coach have been rooted in the midwest and west?
Bill Reynolds: Steve, yes, it's a disadvantage. In a perfect world you would want guy with great eastern ties, but it's not a perfect world. It's the reason why davis will hire someone like that on his staff. But it's a national game in ways it never was before, so, ultimately, I don't think it's going to matter in the long run.
southie: any word on where TW and his staff may end up?
Bill Reynolds: Southie, I heard welsh could have had the toledo job and backed out, and that he is involved with the Florida Atlantic job.
THL: Jeff Goodman has Dwain Williams on his list of players who are transferring. I have heard that he has already received his release from PC.
Bill Reynolds: THL, that would not surprise me at all, as that rumor has been around since the end of the year and makes a lot of sense for Williams, especially since Curry is due back. It also would give the friars an extra scholarship to play with and that would be good, for they could really use another big body - maybe a juco? - who would be ready to help next year.
bfriar: Kevin: Do you anticipate that Coach Davis will be in attendance at this weekend's AAU "JamFest" at PC? Are you hearing any names for potential recruits, especially a true point guard?
Bill Reynolds: bfriar, davis said the other day that he has a commitment in Iowa, but that all games of the JamFest are on tape.
BrownFanatic: Kevin, any word on who Brown is targeting to replace Robinson? Any chance that Tim O'Shea might be in the mix?
Bill Reynolds: Brownfanatic, I have heard that Tim O'Shea might have an interest, but don't know that for sure. because of Robinson's success, the perception is that this is a better job than it was one two years ago.
Rock: Hi Kev, you expressed some belief that the Friar search for a coach was going to attract only such lowly candidates as the Tim O'Shea and Will Browns of the world. Does the naming of the national COY in Keno Davis give you thought that perhaps the program is not as bleakly seen as you may have forecasted? Thanks.
Bill Reynolds: rock, I'm not speaking for Kevin, but any time a school is paying roughly a million dollars a year for a coach it is going to get someone good, so I'm not sure I understand your phrase ``lowly'' candidates.
THL: Kevin, when do you think KD will begin recruiting for 2009...and, with DW probably gone, for that elusive backup PG we need so badly?
Bill Reynolds: THL, I think he will begin recruiting for 2009 immediately, given that his roster for next year is virtually set and that the entire recruiting process has been speeded up. and, you're right, they need a backup point guard.
bfriar: Aside from the Anaheim Classic, any word yet on other OOC opponents?
Bill Reynolds: bfriar, i haven't heard a thing about that.
THL: Kevin, do you believe that KG will encourage a transfer by a frontcourt player to open another spot? Your opinion on the JUCO question. Do you feel that there will be an easing by the administration so a JUCO big man could be recruited?
Bill Reynolds: THL, that's a good question about the school's opinion of juco players. I know that some of them don't always work out, but Eric Williams, Ruben Garces and Derek Brown certainly did.
THL: Bill, do you have an opinion on PC's current place in the Big East compared to the 80's and early 90's? In other words, do you feel that the BE is more difficult now than what it was during the years of Pitino and Barnes?
Bill Reynolds: THL, it is definitely more difficult, for the simple reason that there are more teams. Sports Illustrated just came out with a proposed top 25 for next year and they had eight Big East teams on it. That's the reality. For you can be a good team and still finish ninth or 10th in the league and not go to the NCAA Tournament and everyone thinks you've failed. That's the other reality.
pc guy: Who's the better coach in your opinion, TFord or Keno Davis?
Bill Reynolds: pc guy, good question, with no real answer. Not now anyway. Ford has more experience, certainly, davis had a great year last year and is the national coach of the year. But when all is said and done? I think PC got the best guy, because he obviously wants to be here more than Ford did.
jimmy626: Name your starting five for next year
Bill Reynolds: jimmy626, McDermott, Curry, Efejuku, Hanke, Xavier, with McKenzie and Kale off the bench.
jimmy626: Do you expect Chris Davis to be one of the assistants?
Bill Reynolds: Jimmy626, is that the Drake assistant coach's name? If he doesn't get the Drake job I expect to see him here.
pc guy: Looking back Bill, would you still have rather seen Robinson get the job over Davis, who the Friars ultimately ended up with?
Bill Reynolds: pc guy, that's impossible for me to really answer because I know Robinson, saw what he did at Brown, think he is a future star in coaching, and believe he would have been a great hire at PC. But everything I''ve heard tells me that Davis is an excellent hire, too.
Bill Reynolds: thanks for your interest. sorry about the typos, i flunked typing in high school.
Kevin McNamara had a late conflict come up -- it involves the basketball team that wears green and plays near North Station -- and so he had to back out on today's scheduled PC hoops chat. Fortunately, Bill Reynolds is in the house and ready to take your questions. He'll answer from noon to 1 p.m. today.
You can submit your questions now: Go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, choose a display name (you do not need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. Type in your question, but remember not to press enter or click send until you have finished your thought. Questions will display to the room as Bill answers them.
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma State had no announcement planned Wednesday amid conflicting reports that Massachusetts' Travis Ford was expected to take the job as the Cowboys' basketball coach.
Spokesman Mike Noteware said Oklahoma State had no plans for a news conference despite a report from ESPN that had unnamed sources indicating that Ford intended to meet with his players at UMass in the afternoon regarding the position in Stillwater.
"Right now, he's still here, still our coach at UMass," Massachusetts assistant athletic director Jason Yellin said.
Ford, 38, turned down a job offer from Big East school Providence and had also previously been linked to an opening at LSU that was eventually filled by Trent Johnson, who left Stanford. UMass athletic director John McCutcheon announced last week that Ford intended to stay with the Minutemen, but did not discuss terms of the coach's new contract.
A former player at Kentucky, Ford led UMass to a 25-11 record this season and an appearance in the NIT championship game, where it lost to Ohio State. He is 62-35 in three seasons at Massachusetts.
Ford previously took over a losing program at Eastern Kentucky and guided it to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 26 years.
Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder told The Oklahoman there was no deal in place for Ford to coach the Cowboys. Holder has been looking for a replacement for Sean Sutton, who resigned under pressure on April 1.
Kansas coach Bill Self turned down the Cowboys last week, instead signing an extension to remain with the national champion Jayhawks.
Kevin McNamara will take your questions about new PC Friars coach Keno Davis in a live chat from noon to 1 p.m. Friday. You can submit your questions now: Go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, choose a display name (you do not need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. Type in your question, but remember not to press enter or click send until you have finished your thought. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them on Friday.
We've been asking projo.com readers all day whether Keno Davis is a good choice to lead the PC Friars. We've had 300 votes as of 2:30, and by a 5-1 margin, the public is saying that this is a good move. Here is a sampling of reader comments:
"GREAT BLOODLINES, NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR. JIM WHO?"
"Davis is a better choice than either Larranaga or Travis Ford. I trust that he'll build a program and stay around long enough to sustain that program."
"Mass, guy... local to the area... Travis Ford would have left quickly and Larranaga coaches in a real weak conference and was too old."
"ONE year coaching? Sure he got to the NCAAs, but blew the game, once they played. No track record. It's like hiring an assistant coach."
"I'm not sure really. He has only 1 year of coaching experience and has been a mid-western based coach. I hope he has recuiting contacts on the East Coast. I kind of liked [Karl] Hobbs who is based in DC and from NE."
"When he finds out how hard (or should I say impossible) it is to win here then he will leave like the others."
"PC is set to hire " a young, second-generation coach with limited head-coaching experience, but a winning record during his tenure at a mid-major"....is it 1998 and is his name Tim Welsh?"
"AP coach of the year, not 10 years ago but this year, took his team to the NCAAs for the first time since the 70's in his first year as coach. Are you kidding me? PC is lucky to have Keno. Great job Bob! Send me my season ticket renewal package I'm ready to sign up."
"I'm happy, 2008 coach of the year, gives choice some credibility. Are they overpaying him, yes. Will I answer my phone when the PC students soliciting money call again, Not unless he wins."
Providence College has just confirmed that it will hire Drake coach Keno Davis has its next basketball coach.
Davis will be introduced at a news conference at 5 p.m. today at PC's Alumni Hall. Fans and friends of the program are encouraged to attend the new coach's introduction.
Davis, 36, won the Associated Press' National Coach of the Year award at the Final Four last week after leading Drake to a 28-5 record in his first season as head coach. Davis arrived in Providence on Monday and discussed particulars of the job into the night with athletic director Bob Driscoll. A contract was apparently agreed upon this morning.
Davis is the son of Dr. Tom Davis who was the head coach at Boston College from 1977-82. Keno was born in 1972 and raised as a BC fan before his dad left to take a job at Stanford and then moved on to Iowa and then Drake from 2003-07 where he was joined by his son, Keno.
The Bulldogs were picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference but blossomed into the most surprising team in the nation on the way to a conference title with a 15-3 record. At one point, Drake won 21 games in a row.
Drake advanced to the NCAA's for the first time since 1971. The Bulldogs lost to Western Kentucky in the first round on a last-second 3-point shot in overtime.
Keno Davis was previously an assistant coach at Drake from 2003-2007, Southeast Missouri State 1997-2003, Southern Indiana 1995-1997, as well as an undergraduate assistant coach at Iowa from 1991-1995. He currently lives with his wife Krista, whom he married in 2005. They have a son, Brady, who was born in November 2007.
Providence College's search for a new basketball coach has focused on Drake's Keno Davis. The 36-year old coach has emerged as the favorite to be the next Friar coach.
On Monday, the rumor mills focused on Karl Hobbs and Kevin Willard. However it is Davis who could be hired as the next PC coach, as early as tomorrow.
More in Tuesday's Journal.
On Monday night, Providence College is holding its annual end-of-season basketball banquet at the Biltmore Hotel. Will the program have a new head coach to unveil at the event?
That was the hot tip that interrupted the Masters this afternoon. PC athletic director Bob Driscoll has been working the phones the last few days in search of a new coach and it would not be a surprise if he’s settled on someone who will actually take the job this time around. The question, of course, is who?
After initially hearing rumblings about GW’s Karl Hobbs and Florida associate coach Larry Shyatt from high-level basketball people, we now know that Driscoll has been urged to think about Iona coach Kevin Willard by none other than Rick Pitino. Pitino is the same man who listened to an offer for himself to come back to Providence (not sure just how long that offer was considered by the King of Louisville) and then pushed PC to chase UMass coach Travis Ford. Ford turned PC down last Thursday in a major embarrassment for the Friar faithful.
Now it’s Willard. He just finished his first season at Iona where he went 12-20 and 8-10 in the MAAC. He inherited a 2-28 train wreck from Jeff Ruland and is considered a coach with potential but this would be a major risk for the Providence program. What would make it a little more palatable is if Kevin brings along his father, Ralph, the current Holy Cross head coach and use him in an associate head coach role. Something to think about.
Will Driscoll keep listening to Pitino, a conference rival whose job demands that he keep beating the Friars? He has not called Florida’s Shyatt but has done some background work on Hobbs, an interesting candidate. Hofstra’s Tom Pecora is another interesting name but as of yesterday his athletic director hadn’t heard of any interest from Providence.
No doubt shook by the public nature of his courtship of Ford, Driscoll seems to be playing his next move close to the vest. Wrapping it up Monday in time for a dinner expected to draw a few hundred fans wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
PROVIDENCE -- There is no pending word on whether Travis Ford will accept an offer to become the next basketball coach at Providence College.
PC has no press conference scheduled, according to associate AD Arthur Parks. Athletic Director Bob Driscoll is in Providence and no doubt anxiously awaiting some kind of resolution to his courtship of Ford.
The UMass coach spent yesterday at PC but returned to Amherst last night and is on campus there today. There is no word coming from UMass, either.
"John McCutcheon, our athletic director, has a policy of not commenting on speculation regarding coaches," said UMass athletic spokesman Jason Yellin.
UMass is holding its end-of-season team banquet tonight on campus. Representatives of both schools privately say they hope this situation is resolved sometime later today. PC's banquet is scheduled for Monday night.
It's unclear if Ford is asking for more money from UMass. He already has a contract that runs through 2015, so security is not an issue. UMass' athletic department is far from flush with cash and the university system is dealing with major budgetary issues.
What could also be playing out is Ford wishes to tell his team and UMass officials that he is moving on. Doing so before (or at) a public banquet would prove difficult but Ford is scheduled to attend the event.
Providence College athletic director Bob Driscoll is traveling to San Antonio today. The city is the site of Saturday's Final Four and the national title game Monday night.
Once he checks into his room, Driscoll will be inundated with `Who are you going to hire?' questions from the hundreds of AD and coach-types who fill Final Four cities every year. Driscoll is expected to meet with the candidates he says are on his `short list' beginning Saturday.
One name that's appeared in The Journal since Tim Welsh was fired three weeks ago is that of Tim O'Shea, the former URI and Boston College assistant who is now the head coach at Ohio University. O'Shea is one of the coaches likely to sit with Driscoll over the next few days.
O'Shea has compiled an impressive resume at Ohio, a member of the Mid-American Conference which happens to be one of the most competitive leagues in the country. Over the last 18 seasons, only one school (Kent State, 2001-02) has repeated as conference tournament champion.
Ohio won that tourney in 2005 and put a major scare into Billy Donovan and Florida before losing, 67-62. The Bobcats finished 21-11 that season and that success has continued with O'Shea's teams winning 19, 19 and 20 games the last three years. In his seven years as coach, Ohio has beaten North Carolina, DePaul, Virginia, Cincinnati, Rhode Island (twice), St. Joseph's, Maryland and St. John's.
Ohio finished 20-13 this season, including the win at Maryland and over SJU in Hawaii. Interestingly, the Bobcats thumped Jim Larranaga's George Mason team, 69-57, in February when it erupted for 50 second half points. Larranaga is the coach who turned down an offer to come to PC on Wednesday.
Neither Driscoll or O'Shea will comment publicly about a potential meeting. That means we can't report it. But it seems likely the two will talk. Who else will get Driscoll's ear. Brown's Craig Robinson seems likely. So does UMass' Travis Ford but the Kentucky native is reported to be waiting to see if he can get involved at LSU.
Not a shock. Jim Larranaga has reached agreement on a 3-year extension to his contract at George Mason.
Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom O'Connor announced today that Larranaga has signed a three-year extension at George Mason. Larranaga is now signed through the 2014-15 season.
"Jim (Larranaga) is a terrific ambassador for George Mason University,"
O'Connor said. "Obviously with the 2006 run to the Final Four, our basketball program and the University have garnered a lot of national attention. On top of that he is a tremendous basketball coach, he's our coach and I'm proud to say that he will continue to be our coach for the next seven years."
"I've made it clear over the years that my family and I have loved it here at George Mason," Larranaga said. "I feel very fortunate to work under the great leadership of President Merten and Tom O'Connor. I feel very connected to both the George Mason and the greater Fairfax County communities. We have enjoyed their great support and it continues to grow. I've said before that I hope to retire here at George Mason and this contract extension allows me to do just that."
PC athletic director Bob Driscoll just issued a press release. Here's what it says:
"Over the last several days it became public knowledge that we were in discussions with George mason head coach Jim Larranaga about becoming our men's basketball coach. We offered him a very substantial package but he was too comfortable in his current situation and opted to stay at George mason. As a result, I will continue to have ongoing discussions with the other finalists in this search. I remain very optimistic that we will find a head coach who will embrace the rich tradition of Friar basketball and move the program forward."
Who's next for the Friars? Certainly not clear at this point but they're likely to look at Davidson's Bob McKillop (who won't be interested), Brown's Craig Robinson, UMass' Travis Ford, Arizona's Kevin O'Neill and Ohio U's Tim O'Shea. But this race is now wide open.
Jim Larranaga has decided to remain as coach at George Mason and not accept an offer to come to Providence College, according to PC associate athletic director Arthur Parks. A release from athletic director Bob Driscoll is due at any moment.
It appears that George Mason coach is understandably torn between staying in Virginia and leaving for the basketball coaching job at Providence College. We expect word one way or the other some time today.
What you're saying: Folks are generally upbeat on Larranaga
We've been asking readers today to tell us if Jim Larranaga would be a good choice for the PC Friars' head coaching vacancy. As I write this, there have been 103 votes, with 65 (or 63 percent) saying that Larranaga is a good choice.
Here's what one Larranaga supporter said: "Jim is a consummate professional, an outstanding recruiter, coach and teacher. He practices what he preaches and what he preaches leads to exemplary student athletes and successful basketball teams. He had success at Bowling Green, but his greatest success came at GMU because the University supported his vision and goals. With the same support from the PC administration, he will return Providence to the top of the Big East and the NCAAs."
The hits on Larranaga generally concern his age, and his lack of big-time head coaching experience. Here's one reader's quote: "Not a good choice at this time. Need someone who is younger with a great resume. Must be able to RECRUIT Big East caliber talent!!"
Interestingly, when we asked readers earlier this month if Brown's Craig Robinson would be a good choice for the job, about the same majority -- 62 percent -- said that Robinson would be a good fit.
We've been polling readers today about whether Brown coach Craig Robinson is the man PC should hire to fill its men's basketball vacancy. We've received 71 votes so far, with a majority of 42 (59 percent) saying that yes, Robinson is the right choice.
Here is the comment of one Robinson supporter: "To get stability and pride back to the program he is your man... Don't forget that he wins also."
The main knock on Robinson seems to be his short head coaching experience. Here's what one skeptic had to say: "He has only been a head coach for two years and let's face it, coaching basketball at Brown is a far cry from the Big East and coaching at Providence College or Georgetown University."
Kevin McNamara chatted with projo.com readers at noon today about college hoops. Here is the transcript of the chat.
Kevin McNamara: Hello hoop fans. We'll be here for about an hour answering your questions on the NCAA tournament, PC, URI and Brown hoops. We don't have many questions in our Q already so fire away and I'll give it my best shot for a return volley.
THL: I don't believe there are very many Friar fans who give a damn about the NCAA Tournament. All we want to know about is the status of Tim Welsh, and who is going to be the coach come next season. I writing this question on last Friday afternoon, so maybe you've got some answers by now to the questions that everybody wants answers to.
Kevin McNamara: Here's what we know about the PC job. Bob Driscoll is clearly focusing on a few coaches who are still working with their current teams. That makes this week a pretty slow one on the search process. He'll certainly do backround checks on some of his top choices. Who are the 3-4 guys he's focusing on? Too early to tell. At this point, he won't contact coaches until their teams are done playing so I wouldn't say anybody is a leader. Some coaches also won't get involved unless they are contacted by PC first. So who is going to be the next PC coach? I don't know and I know Bob Driscoll doesn't either at this point.
james donald: What about the Georgte Maswon Coach
Kevin McNamara: Is this Jimmy Donaldson? If so, come on in here and you do this chat.
b1: Kevin you do a great job. Jim O'Brien has been a popular name in the coaching rumor mill but he hasn't been mentioned so far in the press. Is he at all being considered to be replace Welsh?
Kevin McNamara: If i was doing this search, I'd think about Jim O'Brien and speak with him but it seems as if PC is scared away by his transgressions with the NCAA while at Ohio State.
Bobbyg: While a little early in the procedings, the obvious question is who might be in the mix to replace Timmy W?
Kevin McNamara: These are the guys I'd be talking to, in no particular order: Phil Martelli, Bob McKillop, Jim Larranaga, Craig Robinson, Kevin O'Neill. Other guys who I wouldn't suspect would have an interest who I'd call on include Anthony Grant (VCU), Jeff Van Gundy (likely NBA return) and Sean Miller (Xavier). That's called shooting for the moon.
Red: Kevin: Does the URI administration have any idea how restless the natives are? Not just the few of us on the projo board, but others I talk to are frankly embarassed at the way things went down the dumper. We need change -- what will it take?
Kevin McNamara: You are wasting your breath. First of all, URI is more than happy with a 21-win season and return to NIT for first time in several years. Now the next step is geting to the NCAA's. I think the Rams are positioned to remain in that mix over the next few years. They've recruited well and have talent in every class in their program. Did things fall apart at the end of this season? Of course. But the big picture is a positive. Besdies, there is absolutely no way URI can get out of Jim Baron's contract even if it wanted to. He is owed 5 more years. Barring an unforeseen embarrassment, URI would have to privately raise big $$ for a buyout. That is not on anyone's radar screen, even if a small pocket of fans think it should be.
kurtsletten: Kevin, it seems to me that a coach with a solid recruiting background should be a high priority. Both Rick Barnes and Pete Gillen seemed to be able to pry away blue chippers away from the bigger schools (i.e. Michael Smith, God Shammgod) while Welsh always seemed to be searching for a a diamond in the rough (i.e. Gomes). Your thoughts?
Kevin McNamara: The perfect staff at Providence would include an innovative coach willing to try something different in X's and O's. He'd also be someone who loves recruiting and the challenge of trying to target top 100 players and getting them. More importantly, PC needs a coaching staff filled with recruiters and guys with connections. If someone can be hired and bring a top recruit along `a package deal' all the better. Finally, the staff needs to be good at individual workouts so the players in the program get better once they are here. That's asking a lot and I don't know if a staff with that makeup is even possible but that is my goal if I'm Bob Driscoll.
nelsonstmafia: kevin - 34 at large bids, 26 went to "bcs" schools, leaving just 8 to smaller conferences. what does it say about the a-10 and the level of competition that URI played against this season?
Kevin McNamara: The A-10 made great strides this season to get back into that upper echelon of leagues. Now it has to build on it. Three bids this season, 4 or 5 next year. Repeating its N-C success is clearly paramount because RPI's for all the schools slide once conference play begins..The A-10 will get its share of bids if it is the 7th or 8th conference, staying ahead of the Missouri Valley and Colonial, for example. If it slides back to 10th or 11th, it will struggle to get at-large bids.
kurtsletten: Kevin, any thoughts as to where Welsh ends up next?
Kevin McNamara: I keep hearing from other coaches and plugged=in media types that Tim Welsh could get hired by another school in the next few months. I believe that. The question is would Welsh want to coach at a school like Toledo, which just opened? Good league (MAC) but you have to live in Toledo. That's a question only Tim can answer.
jim: On name I haven't heard menioned is Tommy Amaker at Harvard who has Big East ties. Assuming that PC can't persuade a big name coach to come here, what about a top assistant coach. Maybe a guy like Chris Collins or even Richard Pitino.
Kevin McNamara: Tommy Amaker is not on the radar, and should not be. He's at Harvard for a reason. he didn;t get it done at Michigan. Michigan. PC will not hire an assistant coach. That is suicide in a conference where you coach against Pitino, Boeheim, Calhoun, Huggins, ect.
Bobbyg: I am hopeful that the returning PC team will entice a decent coach into realizing that they are not inheriting a broken program, but one that could (make that "should" with the right coaching) get into the NCAA next year. When I hear Larranaga and O'Brien I think their better days have come and gone. Of course, when you bring the hot young coach in you risk another Pitino or Barnes situation where they are exiting in 2 - 3 years after some quick success. It ain't easy being a small school in a big league. Driscoll has his work cut out for him. But I have faith in Driscol and more in Fr. Shanley.
Kevin McNamara: Right now I think PC would be thrilled with a 3-5 year run by a coach that is good enough to send him on to greener pastures. Winning is what it's all about. if that wasn't the case, Tim Welsh would still be the coach. As for your take that PC should be in the NCAA's nexty season, I doubt they will be selected pre-season in the Big East's top 7.
rhody85: How about Travis Ford, or is he to smart to think he could win on a consistent basis at PC, I do think you can win at PC, just not consistently.
Kevin McNamara: Travis Ford belongs in the South, not in Rhode island. I think he needs to get UMass into the NCAA's before he moves on. He's doing a fine job in Amherst right now.
Eileen: What about Tim O'Shea?
Kevin McNamara: Good coach who's won a lot of games in a difficult league. Someone who is on the radar, for sure.
rhody85: How good is Ben Eaves supposed to be?
Kevin McNamara: I haven't seen Ben play in a while but reports from URI's coaching staff were that he will help right away next season. He needs to shoot the ball well from outside to play a lot of minutes. He'll compete with LUlmer and Delroy james for minutes.
Friar Fan: Kevin- I was shocked when Driscoll said he was going to be a one man search commitee. He said his experience as a hockey coach allows him to make the call. That scare you?
Kevin McNamara: I much prefer the 1-man committee approach to the URI-like Gang of 10. That is unweildly and insulting to candidates, in all honesty. PC is a private school and can run searches anyway it chooses. URI and other public schools are bound to use committees for important hires. I think Bob knows enough people that he wil listen to important ones to get names to explore and then do his homework to investigate and meet ones he really likes. Then they come to PC and meet Fr. Shanley and others. That's how it'll play out. It could take awhile to get to the end.
rhody85: Is Eaves in anyway a Will Daniels substitute? Or is that asking too much?
Kevin McNamara: It's asking too much. Will was a 2-time all-league player. Ben has yet to prove he can play at this level. Just getting him to play 20 minutes a game and score 8-12 points a game would be a good 1st year in my book.
rf1: It seems that the A-10 has a perception problem. Everyone was talking about the league's great OOC season. Yet the league is later crucified because some of its top teams lose to teams in conference. The converse is not true for teams in the Big East. You hear very little when it comes to bubble talk about WV losing to Cinci, Villanova losing to Rutgers, or Syracuse losing to South Fla and Cinci. You instead hear how tough a league like the Big East is. The Big East was the RPI fifth rated league ( the A-10 was the RPI 7th rated league). It is the opposite for the A-10. Why is this? Do you think it is fair?
Kevin McNamara: The numbers don't lie. I think the Big East had six teams in the top 25 or so of the RPI. The A-10 had 1 (Xavier). Huge difference there. When you play so many good teams in conference, you can't damage yourself all that much with a `bad' loss. Not the case in the A-10. I agree with your premise that the A-10 has a perception problem. Dayton, for example, should've really been considered stronger for the NCAA in my eyes. The issue there was a horrid final 12 games. The conference RPI's do not matter. At all. ACC was #1 and it got 4 teams in. Look at individual resumes and then ask yourself, is this team's records better than another. Do that with Dayton and Villanova, for example. It's very, very close but I'm sure the committee members would say Villanova had better wins later in the year. Dayton's wins over Louisville and Pitt were somehow downgraded. I'm not sure why.
rhody85: Any word on Scott Cordischi being picked up by another local radio station to do an afternoon sports talk show, I already miss having a Rhode Island option during tourney time. Find myself trying to get the FAN out of NYC, although you did a great job on EEI yesterday they don't do a good job with college hoops.
Kevin McNamara: Losing The Score is a tragedy for RI hoop fans. A real tragedy. No word this early on local sports radio getting back into Rhode Island and I'd say it is a long shot. The Score's ratings were very low and that led to its demise. In retrospect, talking Pats/red Sox 52 weeks a year and trying to mirror WEEI was a knockout mistake. That may be what `the public' wanted but it didn't help the station very much. I find it hard to believe there isn't a market for a station that does Sox/Pats and PC/URI a little more often. ..I'm with you. hearing defensive line talk in March turns my stomach. I also think its a shame and downright sinful for Citadel to dump the Score as quickly as it did and not give these guys more of a going away package. Radio is an awful business.
Kevin McNamara: Out of questions guys. Fire away. How about the NCAA tourney??
rhody85: Will Billy Baron prep after next year or is he ready for D1 play?
Kevin McNamara: I think Billy Baron should go to prep for the next 2 years. My opinion only.
kurtsletten: Kevin, can you tell us anything about PC's lone recruit for next year, the kid from New Jersey? Is the consensus that he is a Big East type player?
Kevin McNamara: Bilal Dixon enjoyed a very good senior season in New Jersey. He's seen as a typical Tim Welsh recruit: a sleeper. Good news is he owns the type of physical body to perhaps play some right away. He's a little bigger than Jon Kale. We'll see if he's better.
Red: Out of questions? You haven't answered my follow-up yet.
Kevin McNamara: Repeat please, Red.
rhody85: Is there a small station in RI that has sports talk, I thought I heard that. Is Cordischi doing the broadcast of the Brown game tonight?
Kevin McNamara: I do not know of it. If you do, fire it my way. In know that Scott and Russ Tyler are doing the Brown-Ohio game tonight on 790-am. There's a note on that in our paper today.
nelsonstmafia: kevin - do you see any big surprises in the coaching carousel? every year, someone gets fired or leaves a good job for another out of the blue. what do you predict for this year?
Kevin McNamara: There always are Nelson. Like Tubby Smith leaving Kentucky to go to Minnesota a year ago. I think PC would love to get lucky like that. Tough to predict who would be that big domino to fall.
CranstonFriar: Is there a surprise candidate people haven't heard about who might be a candidate for the PC job? and how long can the search go before it impacts recruiting?
Kevin McNamara: I'm sure a name or three will sirface over the next few weeks that you'd call a `surprise.' That's the nature of the beast. As for recruiting, its effected recruiting all year. Big Time. I'll be writing on that in the next few days.
rhody85: I thought there was a small station in Woonsocket that did sports talk for a few hours, although I can't remeber where I heard that. The score should have made a run at the rights to URI after losing PC. I think PC made a mistake on going to EEI.
Kevin McNamara: You're wrong on that one. If PC didn't go to WEEI, it would be up sh&%#'s creek right now. The Score would be gone and they'd be on an oldies station. if this happened last year, PC would have no leverage with its negotiations with WEEI. They snuck in just in time. The URI-WHJJ relationship has been a good one for URI but signal issues are a major problem with stations around Rhode Island.
Red: You said the administration is happy wih 21 wins and a trip to the NIT. Those 21 wins are an ilusion for a numbe of reasons, not the least of which is the 30-game regular season. We were picked to finish at or near the top of our league, but we finished, what, eighth? And who did we beat? Nobody playing in the NCAA. And when we started circling the drain in the last seven-eight weeks, what adjustments were made? He had the best pure shooter in the country and couldn't even get him open. And how many point guards abused us on simple pick-and-rolls? You need at least two hands to count them. And they're satisfied with all this?
Kevin McNamara: Got it, Red. Satisfied, sure. Thrilled? Of course not. I think URI's talent base was exposed in A-10 play. Not enough big men and lack of point guard depth was a real issue. As for defense, that'll be priority numbert one in the off-season. I know this doesn't answer your question but, believe me, there is no `Get Baron' sentiment in Kingston with the people that matter. None.
SU Fan: Kevin you think there will be any kids flunk out from PC with the staff gone? Bye the way word on campus here is Greene is not going to class and is gone for next year.
Kevin McNamara: If you mean Donte Greene, that's too bad. He said after Big East loss that he's back if he's not in top 5. I'll believe that..Too early to guess if PC has any academic issues.
CranstonFriar: How secure is Paul Hewitt at GaTech?
Kevin McNamara: I hear he's secure now. After next year could be another matter. I'd try to talk to him, for sure. I think he'd be an excellent fit at Providence.
rhody85: Ideally both Rhody and PC would have consitent success, do think Rhody in the A10 is set up to have more consistency than Providence in the BE?
Kevin McNamara: Define consistent success? Winning seasons, NIT's, NCAA's?
rhody85: You and PK do a great job, I hope you both get to follow the teams on the road next year.
Kevin McNamara: Plans are a go. Right now anyways. It helps when you avid fans keep reading our stuff. Please keep it up.
rhody85: 4 out of 5 years in either NIT or NCAA's.
Kevin McNamara: I feel that's asking an awful lot for both schools. If I had to answer your question, I'd say it's easier to get to the NIT at URI than PC. It may be easier to get to NCAA at Providence since the Big East gets 6-8 bids every year and th A-10 gets 2-3. But it's very, very hard at both of these schools.
SU Fan: I read where PC's AD said he expects thenm to be in the top 5 or 6 in the conference every year. You know what schools he thinks you guys should be ahead of?
Kevin McNamara: I am not in agreement with that. Just my opinion. I agree with you. PC finishes 7th next year. Name the 9 teams it finishes ahead of?
617rhodyfan: kevin - USC/kansas state, who do you like?
Kevin McNamara: I like So. Cal. To go a long ways. Final Four is possible.
Kevin McNamara: Thanks a lot everyone. Enjoy the tournament. This is the best time of the year for us basketball-crazed fans.
Kevin McNamara will be online from noon to 1 p.m. to take your questions about the NCAA Tournament and other college basketball matters. You can submit your questions now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, pick a display name (you don't need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. Remember not to press enter or click send until you have completed your thought. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them.
We're back from a long afternoon at Providence College where Tim Welsh was relieved of his duties. We'll have three stories in Sunday's Journal on the news.
Here are excerpts from AD Bob Driscoll's press briefing:
“Ultimately as the athletic director I’m responsible for the successes or the failures of my programs and basketball is my primary responsibility,” he said. “I just felt that at this juncture, looking at the body of work and where we need to do, that a change in leadership was necessary. It’s not personal to Tim. It’s part of the business and having been in this business for a long time, you trust your gut instinct in terms of change."
"With change comes great opportunity and renewed energy. That was the reason why I made the decision. The other reason is I have a high expectation for men’s basketball here at Providence College. This perception that we can never be successful or that we’re happy with just getting to the Big East (Tournament), well that goes against every bit of my core being. My goal is to win the Big East championship. Will we get there? Time will tell. But there’s no reason we can’t finish in the upper half of that league and if you do that on a consistent basis, you’ll get to the (NCAA) Tournament.
“I can look at Georgetown and at Marquette, particularly Georgetown four or five years ago, and they were nowhere near in the mix. Those schools have been able to do it. If you look at the leadership here and the facilities we’ve built, with what’s happening downtown at the new Dunk, the money we’re raising, there’s no question in my mind that we can get there. Now we have to prove that we can get there but that’s the reason I made this decision, because of the expectations that we have.”
"A number of the people that we’ll hopefully start looking at are in the Tournament,” he said. “Out of respect for them, we’re not going to start those conversations (yet). But there’s ways to find out whether people are interested without messing that whole system up for them.”
“I’d like to do it as quickly as I can but I don’t want to put a strict time line on it because if there are people I want to talk to who are continuing on, obviously I can’t do that. In an ideal world you’d want someone on board by the conclusion of the Final Four but I don’t know. I want to take as much time as necessary to do the best job I can to get the right person. It’s fluid.”
Here is PC's official release on the firing of Tim Welsh....
WELSH WILL NOT RETURN AS PROVIDENCE COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Providence College Athletic Director Bob Driscoll announced today (March 15) that men’s basketball Head Coach Tim Welsh will not return to coach the Friars in 2008-09. Driscoll met with Welsh today to discuss the situation.
“I appreciate all the hard work and dedication that Tim has put into this program over the last 10 years,” Driscoll said. “He represented the College with dignity and class. However, I felt that it was in the best interest of the program and Providence College to make a change in leadership.”
His 2007-08 Friar squad registered a 15-16 record and a 6-12 mark in the BIG EAST. The Friars finished 12th of 16 teams in the BIG EAST this season. The Friars’ season ended on Wednesday when they were defeated by West Virginia, 58-53, in the First Round of the BIG EAST Tournament.
Welsh was named the 13th head coach of Friar men’s basketball team on April 2, 1998. In his 10 seasons as a head coach at Providence, he led the team to a 160-143 mark (.528) and a 72-92 record (.439) in BIG EAST regular-season play. In five of his 10 seasons the Friars qualified for post-season action. Providence was selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 and 2004. The team also played in the NIT in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Driscoll plans to begin a search immediately for a new head coach.
“This is a very important decision and I will work diligently to find someone who will lead our men’s basketball program and guide our student-athletes,” Driscoll said. “Providence College has a rich tradition in men’s basketball. I have very high standards for the program and I expect that we will find the best person to move the program forward.”
Tim Welsh Coaching Record at Providence College
AT PC: 10 years 160-143 .528; Big East: 72-92 (.439)
Providence College will have a new basketball coach next season.
The school is set to announce that it has fired Tim Welsh with one year left on his contract. More details to come. An official announcement is expectred at any moment.
Kevin McNamara: Hello everyone. Obviously one of the busiest times of the year for college hoop mavens. I'm headed to NYCity later today to get ready for tomorrow's PC-West Virginia game. I'm packing right now. Should I go light or heavy?
Kevin McNamara: Please forward your questions. I have about 15 in the Q right now. I will not answer the PC coaching situation over and over and over. I will take questions on URI and Brown as well as NCAA tourney questions. We'll go for about an hour.
BedfordPenthouse: What does Tim Welsh have to do at this point to get an extention going into next year?
Kevin McNamara: Here goes with the Tim Welsh category. The PC coach is obviously on very shaky ground right now. You can debate whether that is fair or not but it is fact. No decision has been made on whether his contract is extend or not. I know this as fact. Can he save himself at this point? That's debatable but he can make it interesting with, say 2 wins this week. Getting to Big East semis with team would be a major achievement....As to new coaching names, let's just say that I've done my share of research. Most of the names fans are tossing about have NO interest in coming to Providence. They either can get better jobs, have a better job or don;t like the chances to win here. I do think that if TW were to get fired, the Friars can find a good coach and won;t have to pay $800K-plus. I think Bob Driscoll will aim high and see if he can get a proven winner. If that doesn't happen, he'll have to get creative and think broadly. That is risky but if Welsh isn't the coach next year, there are no guarantees that the next coach is `better' than he is. If this reads like I am not going to discuss Larranaga, O'Brien, Christian, Van Gundy, ect. you are correct.
BedfordPenthouse: The two names that people have been throwing around to become the next Friars coach have been Jim Larranaga and Jim O'Brien. Of the two, who is better for this job?
Kevin McNamara: Ditto.
THL: Have you heard anything new regarding a coaching change at PC?
Kevin McNamara: Ditto.
pcfan: Hello, Kevin: Should PC be eliminated tomorrow, and the season officially end, do you have any sense of a timeframe for when (or if) PC will replace Welsh? Is it likely that he will "resign" or do you think PC will fire him? Thank You.
Kevin McNamara: As for timing, if PC goes down tomorrow, I would think early to middle next week they have an annoucement on whether the coach is in contract negotiations or moving on.
FriarFan: When will PC make a coaching announcement? What do anticipate regarding their decesion? Thanks.
Kevin McNamara: See above.
BedfordPenthouse: Will Greedy Peterson be in a Friars uniform next season?
Kevin McNamara: I think Greedy has the potential to be a good Big East player. He is undersized, however, and needs to learn how to play without the basketball on offense. That's been his issue late in this season. Tim Welsh would love to have Greedy back. if he's not the coach, you'd have to ask the new guy.
BedfordPenthouse: While his brother will most likely go to UCONN, what are the chances that Majok Majok ends up with the Friars?
Kevin McNamara: All recruiting is up in the air at Providence. That's been the main problem with the decision to let this season be a `referendum' on Tim Welsh. No way anyone would commit to PC in this scenario. The staff has worked the junior class but fallen behind other competitors. Majok Majok is just a name. PC doesn't `lead' for him, in any way shape or form.
matt: kevin ,next year coach baron will give us the excuse that when you lose seniors like Will Daniels and Parfait Bitee that it is tough to replace them. Knowing that will be his excuse next year - what possibly could his excuse be for the collapse we witnessed this year? I think he needs to take responsibility for this. 2007-2008 was supposed to be THE YEAR. Not qualifying for any tournament is totally unacceptable. I hope Thorr Bjorn recognizes this.
Kevin McNamara: I am as surprised as anyone that the Rams have faded here in February-March. I hope they can win a game in Atlantic City and find their way into the NIT or CBI but it will be tough, as Paul Kenyon's article in today's Journal correctly points out. What is the `excuse?' It's lack of defense. Why is this? URI patterned its game after the run-and-gun NBA teams and when its offense was roaring, the Rams were very good. When the O stalls a bit, the defense isn't there to back things up. Losing WDaniels, PBitee and Joe Mbang is very big for this team. URI fans are learning how tough it is to get to the NCAA's.
Ben: Hi, Kevin. URI basketball has seen yet another embarrassing, horrific collapse under Jim Baron. While this guy seems like a nice man who appears to run a clean & honest program, I (and other URI fans) feel that he is not a good coach and has worn out his welcome as coach of the Rams. His teams ALWAYS finish worse than they started. He has never won an NCAA tournament game & has only been there twice in well over 2 decades as a head coach. In fact, neither of those trips were with URI. His offensive strategies are incredibly simple, predictable, and easy to defend once you see what they're doing. This man is not capable of better than getting to the occasional NIT. Do you think that URI would make a coaching change if the state's financial situation were better and/or his contract was closer to its end? And, do you personally feel that Jim Baron has performed adequately in his 7 years (that's almost a decade) at URI?
Kevin McNamara: I won't speculate about Baron's future at URI. I will state that he isn't going anywhere. URI's decision to lock him up for 10 years was an odd one at the time and severely handcuffs the school. It's a 1-way deal that only favors the coach. It also gets very expensive as the years roll on so buying him out is not an option. I personally feel they shouldn't even think about that and no one at Rhody is. Baron has rebuilt the program to his liking and winning 21-22 games this season is a very good year. Obviously expectations were raised once the Rams got off to such a hot start and now people are disappointed. The good news is the staff is working hard to stock the program with good players, more needed size and some additional athleticism. I think a core of Jimmy Baron, KSeawright, Ulmer, Cothran, Delroy James is pretty good. If some of the newcomers can help a bit, the Rams will be in the A-10 mix once again. That's very different from the poorer years that Baron endured trying to get the program back on track.
rhodewarriorlm: Tough question Kev! Baron is a really likable guy and the job he first took over in Kingston was far from a tea party. He has done good things for the program yes. With all of that good will acknowledged Coach cannot seem to get any team to the NCAA's? His best teams at Rhody (this year) and the (Dustin Hellenga) team both had swoons that cost them post season play under Baron. Putting the good will aside for a moment do you really think Jim Baron is anything more than a NIT coach in his best? Do you think Rhody fans have a point in being really upset with the coaching staff regarding this years collapse?
Kevin McNamara: Look above. Getting to the NCAA is hard, especially at a school like URI which is not a top 5 Atlantic 10 program. Not yet, anyways. I think the student-athlete center being talked about will help a lot and recruiting the last 2-3 years is clearly going well. Getting ahead of Xavier, UMass, Temple, Dayton, St. Joe, St. Louis (on the rise) consistently is asking a lot if you cheer for the Rams. If the A-10 remains a 1-3 bid league, do the math. Cracking the NCAA's is a tall order.
rhodewarriorlm: With the swoon in full scale at Rhody do you see them inning any games in the A-10 tourney. If they get eliminated in the 1st or 2nd round do you even see them getting an NIT invite or will the severity of the swoon keep them out of even the NIT?
Kevin McNamara: If URI loses to Charlotte, I think there is a very good chance the NIT passes on them. Hope not. Beat the 49'ers and things clearly improve. problem is A-10 is loaded with NIT-type teams (Charlotte, Temple, Dayton, St. Joe).
rhodewarriorlm: Lets get things flowing for next year.... who has the better recruting class for next year- URI or PC? Can you tell us about either class?
Kevin McNamara: That's for the easyt question. URI in a landslide. The Rams have signed a good, deep class that was badly needed. Lots of promise anyways. PC had one scholarship and used it on Bilal Dixon, a player who could see time right away. URI's class depends on several players academically qualifying. Things look good now but anything can happen with kids these days. Big men Ryan Brooks and Orion Outerbridge are the keys. Both aren't bangers but are athletic and can run the floor. Think Will Daniels, minus 20 pounds. Raw but talented. Remember, the Rams also welcome transfer Ben Eaves, who PC badly wanted out of prep school. He's impressed all year in practice.
rhodewarriorlm: Where (if you do) do you have Will Daniels going in the NBA draft? Do you see him having a productive career or will he ride the pine and be out of the league in a year or two?
Kevin McNamara: I am not hearing much on Will and the NBA. I see his name on some web sites (nbadraft.net, for example) but no scout I've talked to says they see him as a 1st rounder. Will is an NBA 3-man who lacks quickness and will have major defensive issues. He needs to go to pre-draft camps and prove that scouting report wrong. We all know he can score. He'd have a great European career because of those skills but he'll try to make a run at the NBA first. We all wish him luck. He's a good kid.
THL: Is there any serious recruiting being done at this time by the Friars?
Kevin McNamara: I would say no. Any HSchool coach with a clue would know PC's coaching sitaution has to be cleared up before I can take what PC's assistant are saying seriously.
mando11522: Rhode Island's chances of winning the A-10...semms there path isn't to bad
Kevin McNamara: Winning the tournament? Let's just beat Charlotte first. URI lost to the 49ers at Ryan Center just a few days ago. That sounds like a very tough first round game.
friar fan: Kevin- Do you think Gonzo is in trouble for his actions Sunday with his press conference and screaming at a SHU official to "get out of my face"?
Kevin McNamara: That's one of the issues I can't wait to hear more on once we get to New York. I know Gonzo is intense but his inability to control that intensity is one of his major faults. It's not winning him any friends, that's for sure.
mando11522: thoughts on uri chances at winning the a-10
Kevin McNamara: see above.
THL: With San Diego winning the WCC by beating Gonzaga last night, do you feel that the Zags will still get a bid to the dance using up an at large bid?
Kevin McNamara: Thanks for the NCAA question. Best time of year speculating on who does and does not get in. Gonzaga will definitely be an at-large pick. The Zags play a great schedule, won enough games out of conference and were regular season champs in a good league. The West Coast will now get 3 bids: Zags, SDiego and St. Mary's. All three should be watched closely in your pools next week.
Blue Elvis: Looking ahead to next year for the Friars, it seems to me that getting Randal Hanke into the weight room should be a priority. It seems when he plays tough, the Friars play better as a whole team. (I live in DC, and rarely get to see PC games, so I am basing this opinion off of what I read. Let me know if I am off-base).
Kevin McNamara: That's a good call. Randall has enjoyed a very good season after coming in with all sorts of question marks hovering over him. Fans expected him to be good right away and that didn't happen. Tim Welsh didn't play him early on, which was based on shoddy practice efforts, but may have been a mistake. Obviously the Friars needed Hanke to be a legitimate offensive team. He's playing well in the post right now. Hanke will never be the Incredible Hulk but does work in the weight room. Not sure what his upside physically is, though. That's why getting Bilal Dixon, a banger, was so important for next year. Jon Kale's inability to fill that role consistently has hurt this team.
THL: Dwain Williams....In your opinion, has he played his last game in black and white? What are his issues?
Kevin McNamara: Word is Dwain is in the doghouse and is `concentrating on his academics.' Don't know for sure but sounds like he's struggling academically and needs to go to every class. Just a guess, which I guess we're allowed to do in a chat but not the newspaper.
mando11522: As everyone knows san diego won the WCC and south alabama and VCU lost in there conference torney's...who's bubbles just burst because of those teams winning/losing...
Kevin McNamara: These are the teams on the bubble right now. They don't want to see anymore upsets. I think South Alabama (RPI 24) had better watch out. It has 20 wins against teams ranked 100 or higher on RPI. I'd take Dayton over that every day. Dayton, St. Joe, Villanova, Syracuse, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oregon are just some of the teams that better win a game or two to lock up bids. It would be a shame of the A-10 only got 2 bids. They don't deserve more, however. Beat teams you're supposed to (re:Dayton & St. Joe) at home and you'd be in...I look at quality wins and playing well late. Those are the 2 things I like best.
rodfromcranston: Come on Kevin. CFL's teams always fade at the end of the season. This is THE biggest collapse in URI history, and yet not ONE word of media criticism.
Kevin McNamara: Rod. Let's get JHarrick back! Just bustin'. It is a major collapse but I think URI fans got juiced up over a team that was always flawed. Then the flaws came through. Look at you 5-man. An unheralded JUCO who can't score. That led to rebounding an interior defense issues. Also, the schedule didn't help. URI played great in the Syracuse win but didn't have to play great to win any of its other NC games (Providence included). Once they started playing good teams (especially on the road) at least once a week in a much-improved Atl-10 then things began to crack. You want to kill the coach? Go ahead. But I fault talent issues more than X's-and-O's. They need better players, especially on the interior. That's the coach's fault, too.
mando11522: Florida, Ohio st., Cuse, or Kentucky...which outta those 4 do you think will legit get in the NCAA
Kevin McNamara: Good question. If it's those four, I'd probably have to go with Ohio State. They beat SYR head-to-head back when Eric Devendorf was playing. They're playing well now. Excellent coach. I think what kentucky and Florida did in the N/C season cannot be overlooked. You can't whack bad teams, lose to ALL the good ones and then get healthy in conference. That tells me your conference isn't all that good.
THL: Your old friend, Ron Borges wrote in the Attleboro paper that Dwain Williams was told not to go anywhere near the team....Does this relate to your answer above that he is/has to devote time to academics?
Kevin McNamara: Ron Borges? Peter Gobis covers PC up in Attleboro. My reference to Dwain's academic issues was cut out of a PC Journal I wrote for Sunday's paper. Dwain is out for the season with an ankle injury, by the way. You should probably focus on the guys who are healthy.
URIGONZO: Kevin, a lot of blame on URI Projo board has been placed on Coach Baron for the late season collapse. I for one think it is lack of effort on the part of the player's i.e. not playing hard on defense and letting a guard go from the 3-pt arc to the hoop without stopping him. Do you feel the player's could have done better, or does the task of motivating them fall squarely on the coaching staff??
Kevin McNamara: It's a team game and the coaches & players work together. Coach's fault? That's what the fans always say. It's the player's job to execute and URI's players obviously have not done a good job with that. As I stated somewhere above, I think this team was always flawed with its lack of size and once opponents figured out how to slow the offense down, the Rams' main strength was sapped....Growl all you want Ram fans. You've won 21 games and I like the talent in the program. Getting to that next, NCAA ,level is hard.
KD: What's your read on W. Efejuku? Coaching challenge? Out of position? Why the incredible inconsistency?
Kevin McNamara: I think Weyinmi Efejuku is a talented player but not nearly as talented as PC fans think. His mental approach to the game has clearly been hurt by inconsistent playing time and clashes with the coaching staff. If he gave a better effort on defense and off the glass, he'd play more. He also needs to improve his ballhandling so he can get his own shot more often. That is PC's number one problem. Without a PG, there are few players who can break a defender down a get their own shot. Watch tomorrow's WVU game closely and count how many times a guy makes a move and gets off a clear jumper or continue past a defender or three and makes his way to the rim...You'll be amazed at the low number.
Kevin McNamara: Guys. I have to wrap this up. I saw all of your questions but i do have to pack. So what's the answer, light or heavy???
Talk college hoops at 11 a.m. today with Kevin McNamara
Kevin McNamara will stop by the office today just before heading down to New York City for the Big East Tournament to take your questions about the Friars and the Rams, who are on their way to the A-10 tourney in Atlantic City. Kevin will be in the college hoops chat room at projo.com to answer your questions from 11 a.m. to noon.
You can submit a question now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chatm, choose a display name (you don't need a password), enter the college hoops chat room and begin typing. Do not hit enter or click send until you have completed your thought. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them.
The Big East just released its all-league teams. PC's Geoff McDermott did not make the cut in the top 20 but was given honorable mention notice.
Here are the picks. The Player, Coach and Rookie of the Year awards are handed out Tuesday night in New York.
It seems UConn's players remember all too well that beating that Providence put on them back in Hartford in January. PC hit 14 threes in a 77-65 victory.
In stories throughout the Nutmeg state today, the Huskies are `talking trash' and promising to rip the Friars tonight in a rematch at The Dunk.
Guard AJ Price told the Hartford Courant, ``Real disrespectful. They don't know how to win, and it showed. They were laughing, mocking. I usually have a lot of respect for other teams, but they showed a lack of respect last game. They beat up on us and made a mockery of it."
"We'll be ready to go. ... We want to blow them out. That's what we're going there to play for."
And from the New Haven Register...."They were name-calling," said forward Jeff Adrien said. â€œIt was something to remember. They beat us the last two times we played them, so it's payback. We're going out to end that team's season."
Sounds like Jim Calhoun is no Bill Belichick. Plenty of bulletin board material for the Friars.
It seems UConn's players remember all too well that beating that Providence put on them back in January at Hartford. PC hit 14 threes in a 77-65 victory.
In stories throughout the Nutmeg State today, the Huskies are `talking trash' and promising to rip the Friars tonight in a rematch at The Dunk.
Guard AJ Price told the Hartford Courant, ``Real disrespectful. They don't know how to win, and it showed. They were laughing, mocking. I usually have a lot of respect for other teams, but they showed a lack of respect last game. They beat up on us and made a mockery of it."
"We'll be ready to go. ... We want to blow them out. That's what we're going there to play for."
And from the New Haven Register...."They were name-calling,” said forward Jeff Adrien said. “It was something to remember. They beat us the last two times we played them, so it’s payback. We’re going out to end that team’s season.”
Sounds like Jim Calhoun is no Bill Belichick. Plenty of bulletin board material for the Friars. A limited number of tickets remain. Tip is at 7 p.m.
Because of a late change in his schedule, Kevin McNamara will not be able to do today's hoops chat as planned. He sends his apologies and encourages readers to still send in questions; he will answer some of them later this week on the College Hoops Blog.
To send a question: go to projo.com/chat, click the red "launch chat" button, choose a display name (you don't need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. When typing a question, do not press enter or click send until you have finished your thought.
Kevin McNamara will be online from noon to 1 p.m. to take questions from projo.com readers aboiut PC and URI basketball, or about any other college basketball topic you wish to have addressed. You can submit a question now: go to projo.com/chat, click the red "launch chat" button, choose a display name (you don't need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. When typing a question, do not press enter or click send until you have finished your thought. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them on Wednesday.
Mike Marra, the All-State shooter from Smithfield, has verbally committed to play at Louisville. Marra will sign with the Cardinals this November and enroll in the fall of 2009.
"I feel excellent," Marra said today from his prep school, Northfield Mt. Hermon. "It was a little overwhelming at first but I'm excited it's over and I'm going to Louisville."
Marra ended his recruitment when Cards coach Rick Pitino saw him play Wednesday against Winchendon School. It was the first time Pitino saw Marra play in person.
Marra becomes the second Rhode Island junior to commit to a big-time school. South Kingstown's Erik Murphy picked Florida last month.
More on Marra's pick in Friday's Journal.
The questions about coach Tim Welsh's future are only getting louder, and projo columnists Jim Donaldson and Bill Reynolds have their own takes on what that means. Is a new coach really what the Friars need? Is Welsh really to blame for the team's inability to win in the postseason -- and more immediately, its ability to win big games this year? And will a new coach make a difference?
Bill and Jim will take projo.com readers' questions about these issues Wednesday at noon in a live chat. You can send in a question now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, choose a display name (you don't need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room. Do not to press enter or click send until you have finished your question. Questions will display to the room as Jim and Bill answer them on Wednesday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Even Rick Pitino thought he was being a little overambitious a few weeks ago when he said Louisville needed to win eight of its final 10 games to have any sort of momentum heading into the postseason.
"People thought that was probably a little too lofty a goal looking at our schedule," Pitino said.
That was before four straight wins - including decisive victories over Marquette and Georgetown - helped push the Cardinals (19-6, 9-3 Big East) back into the Top 25. Suddenly, the task of winning eight of 10 doesn't seem quite so daunting.
"Now it's four out of six, right?" Pitino said. "Now it's a bit more realistic. But you want to try and win every game, because the one thing with the Big East is you never know where the wins or losses are going to come."
The 23rd-ranked Cardinals, however, don't plan on having one of them come on Saturday when they play at struggling Providence (13-11, 4-8). The Friars have lost six of their last seven and looked listless in the second half of a 19-point loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Pitino, who led the Friars to the Final Four in 1987 and remains a beloved figure on campus, is wary of the "scariest shooting" team in the Big East.
"When they're shooting the basketball, they can beat anybody and that's one of the things that we really got tuned into is how deep they can shoot it and at how many different positions they can shoot it," Pitino said. "This is a very tough game."
If Pitino wants a reminder of just what can happen when a team gets hot, he needs to just pop in a tape of Louisville's 92-82 loss at Seton Hall last month, when the Pirates got white-hot from 3-point range in the second half, many of them coming from well behind the 3-point line.
Providence shoots a respectable 38 percent from 3-point range - second in the Big East behind Notre Dame - and four players have made at least 23 3-pointers on the season.
"They're a much better shooting team than Seton Hall, much better, because they can shoot it with more players on the court," Pitino said.
They'll have to if they want to hang with the Cardinals, whose aggressive zone defense is making good shots hard to come by. The Cardinals are allowing opponents to shoot just 37.6 percent from the floor, the seventh-best field goal defense in the country.
"A big part of our defense is talking to each other," said center David Padgett. "We are moving quick, we are being active and that is allowing us to get out on the break more."
Jeff Xavier and Dwain Williams lead a balanced Providence offense, with five players averaging at least 10 points a game. But the Friars have been unable to overcome the loss of guard Sharaud Curry, who has missed all but one game this season with injuries.
It's a problem the Cardinals know all about, but they weathered injuries to Padgett and Juan Palacios early in the season and are now playing their best basketball of the year.
Perhaps even more important, said Pitino, is the way the Cardinals have smoothed out the edges and played with the kind of consistency they lacked a month ago. Following emotional wins over the Hoyas and the Golden Eagles, Pitino said some teams would have come out flat in their next game. The Cardinals hardly looked it in a dominant 88-68 win over DePaul on Tuesday.
"I think we are maturing a lot," Padgett said. "Coach made a big deal about coming out and not being flat against DePaul. A lot of times teams come out after a big win like we did against Georgetown and they are stale and they end up losing their next game. We really put a big emphasis on coming out strong."
Erik Murphy, the 6-10 South Kingstown native who is starring at St. Mark's in Massachusetts, has committed to play for Billy Donovan at Florida. Murphy is a junior in prep school and won't join the Gators until the fall of 2009.
Murphy is regarded as one of the top 50 juniors in the country. He chose Florida over Duke with Boston College, Marquette, Virginia, Ohio State and UConn also among his final seven. Florida is the two-time defending national champion and Donovan has sent a slew of his players to the NBA over the last half dozen years.
Murphy, who is 6-10 and 220 pounds, had told reporters and scouts that he wouldn't make a college choice until after his prep school season, at the earliest. BC, where his father Jay starred in the early-80's, was considered the early favorite but when Florida and Duke joined the chase the stakes changed. Murphy visited Florida for a football game in the fall and came away wowed. He had never officially visited Duke but Mike Krzyzewski came to watch him play last month and offered a scholarship.
Kevin McNamara: Hello college hoops fans. Just left the TV where George Mitchell is going on and on about his steroids report. Needless to say, spending an hour with you folks is more enjoyable. Keep the questions coming. We have about a half dozen in the Q right now.
THL: Good afternoon. During the last chat I asked about the field for next year's Annaheim Classic. You told me that you would check on it. Were you successful?
Kevin McNamara: I am sorry but I have not checked. I promise to follow up on that and get the teams in the paper this week. Thanks for reminding me.
Friar Rob: Kevin, thanks for your terrific coverage of college hoops. Keep up the good work. What is the story with Curry redshirting this season? I thought the decision had to be made before the USF game?
Kevin McNamara: Thanks for the kind words. I do not feel Curry will play this year. With 14 regular season games remaining, I don’t see it as a wise choice for Sharaud to make a comeback. Will he get to close to 100 percent by the end of this season, or perhaps by Feb. 1? I believe he will. But I do not feel playing in 10-12 games helps his future or the teams at this point. He has not practiced at all and just getting him up to game speed and integrating him into the lineup doesn’t make sense to me.
As for the redshirting issue, the act of applying for a redshirt doesn’t occur until a player needs one. In this case, Curry would not have to apply for one until after NEXT season. He has one year of eligibility left that he will use next season. Then he can apply for a fifth year, which he undoubtedly would get. Tim Welsh has taken the stance that there is nothing to talk about with Curry until he is healthy enough to at least practice. We are not there yet. However, I can certainly see the writing on the wall
terwilliger: Kevin Re the foul shots at the end of the uri game sunday. Once the official has awarded a foul shot to a player and he shoots it, doesn't it have to stay in the books? Suppose Jimmy Baron had missed that first shot (one and one-8th team foul), would the URI coach have had the privilege of getting the call switched to Kareem after Duquense scored (potentially) a game winning hoop? (Remember Tyus Edney from UCLA?). It seemed bizarre, and it might be important next time. In my mind the call is akin to a baseball appeal.. Once the next pitch is made (in this case once the foul shot is taken) there is no appeal. The Dukes coach cleverly earned himself two options. In other words two players had to make the same shot!
Kevin McNamara: Good question. The rules do not state that you can't wipe off a foul shot. The officials are obliged, however, to make sure the correct shooter goes to the line. That was the error that the refs corrected. The scenario you bring up is an excellent one. If Baron misses and the Dukes go down and score can URI say the wrong shooter was at the line. I guess they could but since Coach Baron thought jimmy was the one who was fouled, that would not have happened. I will ask on official that one and get back to you. Excellent question.
GoRhodyMA: Kevin - which St. Louis will show up on Thursday, the one that took Dayton to overtime or the one that scored 20 pts vs. GW?
Kevin McNamara: I am willing to give SLU the benefit of the doubt and say they will play tough at home against the Rams. Scoring 20 points in a game is just bizarre, to say the least. The Billikens are better than that, but not very good. They must try to slow the tempo against URI and will certainly do that. I don't see Rick Majerus' best attempts as being good enough. Give the Rams another hard-fought win and a needed road victory. BTW, Dayton's injury to Chris Wright is a major one fo the Flyers. They will be in trouble the next two games, hosting Umass and going to Xavier.
hoop fan: Kevin- Sunday night Len Robbins on the Big East show on SNY said PC was one of the 3 hardest jobs along with South Florida and Seton Hall. He also along with the moderator said PC was lucky to have Welsh. Your thoughts?
Kevin McNamara: First of all, I respect Lenn Robbins a lot. He’s a close friend and we’ve talked about these subjects a lot. The question of which is the hardest job in the Big East is a good one. I think everyone would agree that South Florida tops the list. It’s a football school in a football state, although Billy Donovan has showed that all things are possible and the plethora of talent in the state give Stan Heath a fighting chance, for sure. I also agree that Seton Hall is a tougher job than Providence. The move out of the Meadowlands was a huge positive for the Pirates but moving into a similar sized building (18,500) still is not what college teams need. Not playing on campus hurts all of the Catholic schools very badly and is the reason why Villanova is ahead of the game in that regard. Now which is the third hardest job? Providence looks like it to me. St. John’s would be right after PC but I feel the Red Storm is a good recruiting class away from getting back into the top half of the Big East. Whether the current head coach can deliver that is another question.
PC lacks a lot of things other schools in the league take for granted. The biggest is recruiting ability. Look at the long history of PC hoops. They do it with under-the-radar kids, not studs. Best example is the fact that two high-major kids are in Rhode Island right now: Erik Murphy and Mike Marra. I’d be surprised if PC gets either one. Murphy has 7 schools and PC isn’t one of them. That tells me a lot and it isn’t good.
Is PC lucky to have Tim Welsh? I think PC’s ability to win in the New Big East is unclear right now. This isn’t the league Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes faced. It’s much better and more challenging. Is Welsh the coach to keep PC in the top 6-10 every year in that environment? I am not convinced. This year and next, with a veteran team, will answer that question. Many Big East people feel that the results Welsh has delivered at PC are about what the school should expect. Which Big East jobs do you see as tougher than PC?
Analyst: Kevin - can Brown which lives and dies with the 3 beat out a much more athletic Cornell and a comparable Yale for the League title or will there be too many nites when both McAndrew and Huffman are off to win the12 games it will take to win the title? Have you noticed that is is rare when both of them score 20 or more together (is that a psychological/ sibling rivalry thing)?
Kevin McNamara: I am high on Brown. I think Craig Robinson is doing an excellent job with a team that lacks an awful lot of answers. Obviously, the Bears cannot have a game where Mark McAndrew and Damon Huffman both struggle shooting the ball. Can 1 be good and the other shaky? That wouldn't be good either. I think the good news is the league will be wide open enough for you to stub your toe 2-3 times. I see 11-3 as a Ivy title-winning record. Brown is at Yale Saturday. Needless to say, that is a very big game. The good news is the Bears have played so well on the road this season that I'm sure they are looking forward to the trip.
THL: At this stage of the season have you changed your mind on where the Friars will finish in the BE? An extension of that Q is do you think they will make the Big Dance...and if not, does TW get fired?
Kevin McNamara: I do not think that making the NCAA's is an all-or-nothing proposition for Tim Welsh's future at PC. I feel it should not be. Bob Driscoll has publicly stated that he wants to see continued improvement from the team this season. The loss of Sharaud Curry to injury certainly should be considered and will be. I see the Friars as a 2nd tier Big East team that can still make an NIT-NCAA run but also will have trouble making the Big East Tournament, if you can believe that statement. The difference between 7-8th place and 12th place will be very slim in this conference. I see the Friars fitting in that spot. Obviously, the teams that play with the most consistency will be the ones that qualify for New York and be in position to go to the NIT/NCAA.
joey the ram fan: hi kevin great job with all the info... i know rhody has some decent guys locked up for next year with orion outerbridge and the 5-7 point guard from mass... any others of note and pc is losing only burch so what does the freshman class consist of????
Kevin McNamara: The URI recruiting class holds excellent promise. You mentioned Outerbridge, who is talented but a bit of a project, and Stevie Mejia, who will compete with Marquis Jones for PG playing time. The Rams also like Ryan Brooks, a long 6-8 forward who has played very well in S. Jersey; Canadian athlete Randy Dezourve; and Jamal Wilson, a big-time athlete from Philly. Getting them all academically qualifed is now the focus.
Kevin McNamara: PC has one signee ro replace Burch. They could sign another player for 2008 and the staff is looking at PG and a big man.
ramfan: Kev- you do a great job for both pc and uri, especially for a Cuse grad! thanks, any thoughts on the Friars playing Kale, Hanke and Mcdermott together? with 5 guards rotating, and Hall and Peterson backing up the 3 front spots it could give the friars some size and strength while still keeping the offense flowing and some pressure D out front.
Kevin McNamara: You mentioned virtually everyone on the roster in the frontcourt and that's probably who'll you see play. Tim Welsh clearly likes to use his bench this season and thinks the depth can be a factor. I know that McDermott/Hanke do tire and that's hurt the Friars in the past. If they can get something out of Greedy/Kale/Hall every game, they'll be better for it. Playing McDermott/Hanke/Kale together is not the team's best defensive lineup, by a long shot. I don;t think you'll see that often at all.
terwilliger: Thanks Kevin (re uri foul shooter)I still think that coach Everhart got a two for one special. He must have brought his CVS card to the RYAN center.
Kevin McNamara: I know that CVS is big in Pittsburgh, too. Wouldn't be surprised if Coach Ron is a card-carrier.
firstname.lastname@example.org: In 2002-03 and 2003-04 PC had the following players: Kabba, McGrath, Douthit, Sanders, Gomes, Augustin, Mills, and Hill. In those two years, PC had as much talent as anyone in the country yet they did not win a tournament game. Do you agree with this assessment? Can you do a where are they now segment on former PC players?
Kevin McNamara: I do not agree with that assessment at all. As much talent as anyone in the country? How about as much talent as anyone in the Northeast! I'd say Boston College (Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, Sean Williams) had more. PC fans always overrate their talent and that's the case this year, too. That PC group has one sure-fire pro (Ryan Gomes) and a fringe one (MDouthit). That's fair talent, not a lot. They needed more, clearly, to make a deeper run in the NCAA's. Now should that team in 2003 have beaten Pacific? Yes. Wonder how that win would change people's perception of the program. By the way, that team would face long, long odds in its second round game: versus Kansas in Kansas City.
chris: Can and will URI go 4-0 leading up to the Dayton rematch? URI has given up too many points vs Dayton and Duquesne compared to previous games...what will they need to do to solidify the defense?
Kevin McNamara: URI's next 4 are at St. Louis, home to GWashington, at the Bonnies and home vs. Richmond. You could say this is the `easiest' stretch of the A-10 season but going on the road twice is never easy. I do agree that Rhody will win all four and host Dayton at 5-1 in the league. The best defense for this team is either better offense or defensive rebounding. They aren't built to be a lock-down defensive team. It's just the way it is. Doing a better job off the defensive boards is key.
GoRhodeIslandURI: Kevin, ESPN Bracket logy has URI a 6 Seed. If/when Rhody makes the Tourney what do you think their seed will be? Also ESPN has PC out do you think PC can make the dance?
Kevin McNamara: As a 6 seed, that means the Rams are one the 20-24 line in the field. Sounds about right. The Rams have a strong RPI and need additional road wins over good teams to solidify their place both in the NCAA field and as a top 5-6 seed. Remember this: URI will face an absolute killer 1st round game in the NCAA unless it someone finds its way into a top four seed, which looks like a stretch. Even then, a 4 plays a 13 seed and those teams are dangerous. So 5 seed, 6 seed, 7 seed. Doesn't matter much. What you want to avoid is a 2nd round matchup against a 1-2 seed.
ramfan: Kev- last question for this week. Coach Baron seems far more creative this year. Can the rams win the A-10 and make a run in the tourney?
Kevin McNamara: Certainly can. Their offensive ability makes them a very dangerous team. Looks around the country at plenty of teams that struggle to score (Michigan State, for one). That will not be a problem for the Rams, almost no matter who they play. Defense and rebounding are the keys for URI to make any kind of a post-season run.
THL: Recruiting----Kevin, with TW's status up in the air, how do you look at current recruiting for the very important 2009 class?
Kevin McNamara: I think it is hard for any recruit to commit to PC without the school commiting to its coach. It's that simple. And, yes, the class of 2009 is a very, very important one if the Friars don't want to take a big-time dip after the McDermott/Hanke/Efejuku/Xavier/Curry/Kale class leaves after next season.
terwilliger: thanks Kevin Coach Baron is the definition of integrity but in theory he could have created that scenario. How loudly would coach Everhart have yelled if Jimmy missed the shot? Ans. not at all! And, how distracted could he have possibly been at that moment (and his assts). not to see that it was Jimmy shooting. I think that he got two for one. It was a great game!
Kevin McNamara: It was a great game. One of the best I've seen this year. You can go `round and `round with the end of the game scenario in that one. Enjoy the spinning!
Kevin McNamara: Almost set to wrap things up guys. Fire away any late 3-pointers.
I HATE PC: will Will Daniels win A-10 player of the year? Or is that Roberts award to lose?
Kevin McNamara: Will Daniels can certainly win the PofY award in the A-10. Roberts has played very well but if the Rams beat Dayton in two weeks and go on to finish 1 or 2 in the conference, I can't see where Will can't be the choice. He's having an outstanding senior season.
ernieDwannabe: Kevin. there are a number of good RI players outside of Marra and Murphy- Can URI or PC help Jerrell Gomes through Juco to the big time, and what about Bruce Sobers in WestWarwick (a GeoffMcdermott clone!)
Kevin McNamara: I hear good things about Gomes and Sobers, although they may not be D-1 prospects. I haven't seen either myself so I don't want to say that for sure. I know that both PC and URI monitor the locals and have AAU ties in Rhode Island. Marra and Murphy, however, are a cut above.
rhody22: Kevin, Baron uses Cothran at the point sometimes. Do you think he can handle those duties?
Kevin McNamara: Keith is an interesting player. I'd say he's a developing offensive player without a true position. A combo, for sure. Defensively, he's as good as you're going to find. I'll take him on my team and over time he has a chance to be very, very good.
rf321: How good is Jeff Xavier ?
Kevin McNamara: Jeff X is very good. A better deep shooter than I realized and PC's fiercest defender. He needs to keep being a stronger leader and shake up a few teammates who don't play as hard as he does. He is another guard I'll happily take on my team.
I HATE PC: How many teams have a better 1-2 scoring punch then URI's dynamic duo of Jimmy Baron and Will Daniels?
Kevin McNamara: Not many. I think that's pretty clear. Don't see another one in the entire A-10.
THL: Bilal Dixon is having a great HS season...can he be an impact player on this Friar team as a freshman....and Thanks for your time today.
Kevin McNamara: Hearing good things on Bilal. Next year he'll have to beat out Hanke, Hall and Kale for playing time. Tough to do.
Kevin McNamara: That's all folks. I'll be back in this forum in a week or two. You can always forward questions to us and either myself or Paul Kenyon will answer them for you. Take care.
Kevin McNamara will answer your questions on Tuesday at noon in our next projoSports hoops chat. You can send your questions to Kevin now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, pick a display name (you don't need a password) and enter the college hoops chat room.
Remember not to press enter or click send until you have completed your thought. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them on Tuesday.
Audio slideshow: Kevin McNamara previews PC-DePaul
Before leaving Milwaukee for Chicago, Kevin McNamara took some time this morning to talk about the Friars' game on Saturday against the DePaul Blue Demons. You can see the game at 8 on Saturday night on ESPN Classic. Click the play button below to see and hear the show.
Chelsea Marandola of Johnston, the best player on the Providence College women's basketball team, is out for the season, according to coach Phil Seymore.
The junior guard is still recovering from a herniated disk in her lower back, an injury she suffered last May during a workout. She has not played for the 10-3 Friars this season and will have two years of eligibility starting with the 2008-2009 season.
Marandola averaged 12.5 points per game as a freshman and 17.3 as a sophomore. She made the Big East all-freshman team in 2006 and the all-conference second team in 2007.
Kevin McNamara: Hello hoops fans. Happy to be with you again. I certainly am not heading outside. It's about 5 degrees here in Milwaukee. I'll answer as many questions as I can in the next hour or so.
THL: By your article in yesterday's projo, neither Sharaud or Dwain will be available for Marquette or DePaul. What is the cut off date for the possibilty of using a medical redshirt for either, or both players...and do you think it may be used, especially in Sharaud's case?
Kevin McNamara: The Friars play Marquette tonight and Sharaud Curry will not play. We may not see him all season and a decision on that front is right around the corner.
The NCAA redshirt rules state that if you play in a game that’s beyond 50 percent of the team’s schedule – the halfway point – you cannot apply for an injury redshirt. PC plays 30 games so if Curry plays in any game past No. 16, which is next Saturday against South Florida, he cannot redshirt. More on this in Friday’s newspaper.
Dwain Williams is nursing an ankle injury but he will return this season
THL: Obviously, it is now 2008 and the early signing period for 2009 recruits is 10 months away. Although we, at this point, will be looking for six recruits for that season, we have a grand total of zero commitments. In your opinion, is this because recruits are shying away from PC because no one knows if TW will be coaching PC at that time? To follow up, do you know if there is at least one verbal that will be coming shortly? Thank you.
Kevin McNamara: PC does not have any commits from the 2009 class right now. They’ll need 5-7 to fill out the roster so working the junior class is a major priority right now. The Friars are in good with several juniors but they rarely secure commitments from young players at this early date.
Does this have anything to do with the head coach’s contract situation. I can’t imagine that it helps. The PC administration made a decision to have Tim Welsh work with two years left on his deal and they have to live with the consequences. That’s bound to effect recruiting.
Is a verbal coming shortly? Not that I know of. I think the staff is still considering whether to add another player for 2008-09, which is possible with only Chuck Burch graduating
friardad: what is the reason for the lack of playing time for jonathan kale?
Kevin McNamara: Jon Kale started and played a lot of minutes early in the season but that was before Randall Hanke was healthy and productive. Now that Hanke is playing very well again, Kale has disappeared. But he’ll be back. If Hanke and Geoff McDermott are playing well and don’t get into foul trouble, Kales minutes will be limited. But frontcourt depth in Big East games is always important and I see him getting time, as early as tonight.
The emergence of frosh Greedy Peterson has also hurt Kale. Right now he’s behind the freshman because of Greedy’s ability to finish plays close to the rim
DustyC: Kevin, in your opinion, why has Tim Welsh had such difficulty getting his teams to play defense. We were told for the second year in a row that defense was going to be emphasized and yet, this team appears to be just as inept as ever defensively. Is it the players? Does Tim Welsh and his staff have the ability to teach defense? What is the problem? You have to know that this is a burning question for many PC fans.
Kevin McNamara: Dee-Fence. It’s been an elusive quality for the Friars for three years now. Obviously, the coaching staff has emphasized defense every day since practice began. More than at any time, as far as I can recall. But it is not catching on consistently. I think it will be very interesting to see if the Friars defend better against the Big East teams, which sounds crazy but when your back in pushed against the wall, players do seem to respond better.
Tim Welsh has had some good defensive teams in his 9 years at PC so he knows how to coach defense. But that was with different players. He feels this group can be much better defensively and right now the focus in on the perimeter trio of Jeff Xavier, Weyinmi Efejuku and Brian McKenzie. They’re going to play a lot of minutes and are the first `wave’ of defense.
joey the ram fan: kevin whats the truth about sharod curry??is he coming back??when??also how can the pc staff give Ray Hall a scholarship??? Im not friar bashing but if this team doesnt make the nit how can welsch keep his job????
Kevin McNamara: Joey is fired up this morning. He should be after the Rams whacked another foe last night in Kingston. See above for Curry. Not a mystery. He's hurt and it's looking like he will not return this season. That's a major, major loss for PC. Kind if like URI losing Parfait Bitee for the year. How would that play in Kingston? I won't justify the Ray Hall question. He's a sophomore and a project and it's good to have your projects be 6-11 and 270 pounds. He'll contribute before he's done at PC. I know Joey The Ram fan would never `Friar Bash' but we'l see how the season plays out - NCAA/NIT/Nowhere - before we make a call on Tim Welsh's job status.
Jeff: Hi Kevin, I first want to say that I really enjoy reading you this time or year and its great to have someone as good as you following the Friars. Do you think the Friars can realistically compete for an NCAA tourney bid without Curry in the lineup? As good as I think Ekejuku can be, his inconsistent play tends to wear off on this whole Friars team (think Brown last year).
Kevin McNamara: The loss of Sharaud Curry is a huge one for PC and cannot be overstated. He’s Levance Fields and Eric Devendorf, the two key injured players for Pitt and Syracuse. Without him I think the Friars are hard-pressed to make the NCAA’s. I’d be surprised if they can win more than 7-9 Big East games. Now a PC team that’s 9-9 in the league would finish 18-12, which is more than pretty good. The key is who you beat. Will it be DePaul, Rutgers and St. John’s or those teams with an upset of Marquette, West Virginia or Georgetown thrown into the mix? That would get PC into the NCAA discussion, for sure
friar1: Kevin - who raised Tim's ire after the St. Peter's game w/ the questions about playing time?
Kevin McNamara: I'm not going to bash another media member but let's just say it was someone who mis-pronounced Jon Kale's name when he asked the question. Don't think that got Welsh off on the right foot. I could see his point, too. If the Friars lost or a big man didn't play well, then why didn't Jon Kale play? But they won the game, they needed their best players in because it was a tight game and Randall Hanke had 23 points and 14 rebounds. You want to take him out
THL: This is a bit premature, but I heard that the Friars will play in a Thanksgiving weekend exempt tournament in Annaheim next season. Joining PC in the field will be Arkansas once again. Do you have any info on who else will be competing?
Kevin McNamara: You are correct. The Friars will be in Disney next Turkey Day. Book your flights now. I can't recall some of the other teams but this is an ESPN event so the field will be good. I believe there are a few Western teams involved like New Mexico and Utah State, perhaps. I'll check on this and get it in somewhere for you guys.
Jeff: kevin, is there anyway hanke can take over the roll of Herbery Hill from last year's squad? Pc used to have a great rebounding team last year, and that could help alot in the Big East.
Kevin McNamara: Hanke and Hill are very different players. The emergence of Hill as an offensive force was the key to last year's NIT finish. PC needs that inside scoring and Hanke is capable of providing it more than anyone else on the team. Hill was not a defender. Neither is Hanke. That is a major issue for the team. Both players are good offensive rebounders but Hanke needs to hit the defensive boards more. That is a major concenr heading into the Big East. PC was a plus-6 rebounding team last year. Right now they are plus-4.8. Needs to be better.
PC78: The Friars are 9 - 3 at this point and need to get into the NCAA in order for Tim W to return(in my opinion). My guess is they need another 10 wins to make the tourney, even with the strength of schedule working for them. Every game is crucial. On paper they should not have much of a shot tonight, but this game will tell us a bunch about a)if Timmy can get these guys motivated, and b)if these kids really want to get it done. Playing in front of 18,000 screaming fans will be interesting. McDermott and Efejuku have their typical strong showings and Xavier goes a little nuts from beyond the arc... Friars by a bucket at the wire. 2008 off to a very good start.
Kevin McNamara: Like your enthusiasm, especially since this may very well be THE toughest road game of the season for the Friars. They are 11.5 point dogs. If they get this one, the Big East season will be off to a GREAT start. How many wins do they need for the NCAA's. If they get to 19 heading to New York and some come against NCAA-bound teams (GTown, Marq, WVirginia, Pitt all look good now) then you are right on. I'd be surprised if they come out `flat' tonight but remember, Marquette can make a good team look flat. Watch for UM to really pressure PC and try to exploit its lack of a proven PGuard.
Friar91: Is it a policy not to recruit any JUCOs for PC now, Gillen had some good luck there now it seems dried up?
Kevin McNamara: PC has backed off of JUCO's of late, for a few reasons. One prominent JUCO wanted to enroll a few years back (Quinton Hosley) and was denied admission. That spooked the coaching staff away from JUCO's. I think Providence needs to take JUCO's and non-qualifers (like St. John's has done) in order to win big in the Big East.
RayC: Has PC lost the upcoming generation of fans and if it isn't too late, can they be won back?
Kevin McNamara: How have they been lost? I see young adults and children at every game. Not sure what you mean. I did read Bill's column and agree with him that college BKB in our state is over-shadowed by the Patriots/Red Sox. It's apples and oranges right now. We have the best football team ever and the World Series champs playing in our region. Everything else (college BB & FB/ Celtics/Bruins) pales in comparison. But there are college basketball fans out there and plenty of them. URI attendance will be strong the rest of this season (it better be) and PC has several games sold out already. Don't regard talk radio as a barometer of fan interest. If this was the case, the NFL and MLB would be the only sports in the universe.
mgreul: Kevin - why isn't Marshon Brooks getting a chance to play? It seems with PC down two point guards they may need a little depth. Is he just not ready or are they looking to red shirt him for this year?
Kevin McNamara: I would've liked to see Marshon in the Sacred Heart-Saint Peter's games but they were tight and I'm sure the coach wasn't eager to experiment much. Marshon is a good prospect and may yet get his chance this season but with vets like Efejuku, McKenzie, Xavier and Williams, his chances are limited. I don;t see them redshirting him.
friarfan: how does PC counter if Marquette goes with a 4-guard line-up? I read that they actually played with 5 guards at times this year.
Kevin McNamara: PC can counter with four ballhandlers and Hanke. Geoff McDermott plays like a guard the way he handles and passes. I don't see Marquette going small because Tom Crean is very concerned about Hanke's scoring ability.
Chet: Kevin, i have not been to the rebuilt Dunk - what should i expect when i attend a game there in February....will i be pleasantly surprised?
Kevin McNamara: The Dunk is a work in progress. That's what you should expect. If you want the Full Monty, come back next November. The place is a work zone with construction literally going on during games but out of the public's eye. I trust that the building will be done very well when it's finally done. Right now it is a construction zone that's open for business.
Chet: What is the likelihood that PC buys out Welsh if they don't make the Dance this year.....do they have the funds to do so?
Kevin McNamara: If the Friars have a miserable Big East season, a decision on the coach will have to be made. I think Curry's injury clouds this issue quite a bit. PC does have the money to make a change if one is needed.
movo42: i beleive that we need a new coach. coach welsch has only one style of coaching. and that is okay for some coaches coach k, williams, knight, and others it seems to me the best coaches coach to the style of talent they have. not the other way around. what do you think about this?
Kevin McNamara: You have to clarify this a bit. Not sure what you are asking.
RayC: Just an opinion, but I prefer this setup for basketball chats, i.e. all PC basketball or all URI basketball, over a general chat for basketball. PC fans aren't likely to sit through a bunch of questions about URI and vice-versa.
Kevin McNamara: We'll take that under advisement Ray. I prefer a banter between both sets of fans, but it's not my call.
THL: maybe I can ask that aborted Q once again. If Burch is the only player leaving, and he has already been replaced by Bilal Dixon, Another player will have to leave if the Friars aare going to add another freshman for the 08-09 season. Any opinions?
Kevin McNamara: Another play does NOT have to leave for PC to add another recruit with Dixon. It's a bit confusing but many schools (Louisville for one) have players with scholarship ability paying their own way. That could happen here. Someone could always leave, of course, but right now I don't hear any rumblings on that front.
friarfan: did you get a chance to see Marquette's practice facility? That's what PC needs to stay competitive in the BE
Kevin McNamara: I can't disagree more. Go up to Alumni Hall right now. There's your practice facility. The Friars have a great locker room, a great practice floor, a new weight room and a state-of-the-art training room that is about 70 percent complete. The focus for spending now should be on additional recruiting budget, jobs for players in the summer and charter flights to games in order to keep up with the rest of the Big East
Chet: do you know what game PC will be offering a Marvin Barnes bobblehead doll?
Kevin McNamara: Can't wait to get my Marvin bobble. It's going right in the Sports Dept. I believe it was the Seton Hall game, Jan. 24. Look for additional ads in the Journal. I saw one last week.
RayC: With Dwain and Sharaud both out, do you think that Brooks will get more playing time or is he just too inexperienced for the upcoming portion of the schedule?
Kevin McNamara: I think the focus will be on Efejuku and McDermott to do most of the playmaking. Obviously Jeff Xavier and Brian McKenzie are important here, too. I'm sure Tim Welsh is leery about playing a little-used frosh at point guard in the Big East. That is not Marshon's natural position right now but he's getting a lot better in that area.
THL: Thank you---Just a note re:Dixon---He is off to an outstanding HS season. His team just won a tourney in NJ, defeating two teams from a higher rated league. He played like he is the real deal.
Kevin McNamara: I took note of Bilal's good start. Seems like he's on a good team which is most important. I hope to catch up with him later in the season.
Chet: do you think it was warranted for Welsh to complain about not having access to the Dunk over the Xmas week.....what message was he sending, especially by stating he'd consider playing at the Ryan Center. What was his agenda?
Kevin McNamara: I do think it is warranted. PC has many issues with the Dunk but finding play dates may be number one. It is a major, major issue and adversely effects the team's chances of wining games. The problem is it probably isn't going away. The Dunk has to book money-making events and as many as possible. Then it fits the Friars and PBruins into the schedule. That squeezes dates for the Friars and makes it very difficult to find non-league opponents who can play on those dates. It also hurts in the Big East. PC has started its BE sked on the road 7 of 8 years. That hurts. Also, because the PB's play Fri-Sunday, the Friars have to play Thursday-Saturday twice this season instead of Thurs-Sunday. That hurts, too.
Kevin McNamara: Guys, we're set to wrap it up here. Any buzzer-beating questions?
(Note: Last question was somehow lost, so we're not sure who asked it, but the question was:) Any players on the team who have a shot at making the NBA?
Kevin McNamara: I'd say no although Hanke, McDermott and Efejuku all have a shot.
Kevin McNamara: Gotta fly everyone. Sorry if I didn't get to your question. Hope you enjoy the game tonight. It's at 9pm on Cox 3.
The Friars face 10th-ranked Marquette tonight, and Kevin McNamara will take some time to answer your questions before the action starts. Kevin will log on from Milwaukee at noon Eastern time. You can send in your questions now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, choose a display name (you don't need a password), and type in your question. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them on Thursday.
The Friars face 10th-ranked Marquette on Thursday night, and Kevin McNamara will take some time to answer your questions on game day. Kevin will log on from Milwaukee at noon Eastern time. You can send in your questions now: go to projo.com/chat, click launch chat, choose a display name (you don't need a password), and type in your question. Questions will display to the room as Kevin answers them on Thursday.
Journal photo / John Friedah
PC's Jeff Xavier, left, and Geoff McDermott tie up Florida State's Ralf Mims during the first half today in Providence.
The Friars have beaten Florida State, 101-95, at the Dunk in an impressive offensive showing by both teams.
Jeff Xavier led the Friars with an outstanding shooting game as he poured home 27 points and canned 7 threes. Weyinmi Efejuku was tough as well with 25 points and Randall Hanke added 15.
PC put together an 11-2 run that broke open a tight game and made it 88-77 with 4:20 left. PC still led by 11 points with three minutes to play but Florida State made one more push and cut the lead to 96-91 with 28 seconds left but the Friars hung on to win.
The Providence Friars just lost to South Carolina, 67-66, in the Big East/SEC Invitational at the Wachovia Center.
PC trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half but cut it to two (61-59) with 2:59 to play. South Carolina stayed in it with some good work on the free throw line.
PC had a key steal in the final minute and a Brian McKenzie 3-pointer cut the lead to 67-64 with 33 ticks left. PC had a final chance to tie the game when Weyinmi Efejuku was fouled with 0.2 seconds left. But he missed the first of two free throws and the Friars (5-3) lost for the second straight game.
The Providence College Lady Friars beat Fordham tonight, 63-45, in New York. Providence, which got 26 points and 16 rebounds from Shantee Darrian, improved to 5-2 while Fordham dropped to 0-7. Click here to see the box score from projo Stats.
The Lady Friars' next game is Saturday at 3 at URI.
Providence College's women's basketball team outscored Florida International by 20 points in the second half to claim a 71-60 lead tonight in Florida. Kendria Holmes led PC (4-1) with 19 points. Click here to see the box score from projo Stats. The Golden Panthers fell to 1-3.
The Providence College Lady Friars beat Manhattan, 55-51, tonight in Providence. Freshman Mi-Khida Hankins had 13 points and six rebounds to lead Providence (3-1) in both categories. The Lady Jaspers (2-2) got 17 points from Aubrie Dellinger. Click here to see the box score from projo Stats.
Providence plays Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Florida International.
AP photo / Andres Leighton
Jonathan Kale goes for a layup as Arkansas' Steven Hill looks on during the first half.
By Kevin McNamara
The Providence Friars just closed out a 67-51 upset of Arkansas at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, P.R. The Razorbacks came into the game ranked 18th in the country. PC will play Miami in the tournament finals Sunday night at 7:30.
PC met the challenge of the physical, aggressive Arkansas team and took advantage of a littany of Razorback turnovers against the Friars' assortment of presses and a trapping, zone defense. Arkansas finished the game with more than 30 turnovers.
The last time the Friars earned a win over a ranked team on a neutral court, they upset Illinois at Madison Square Garden in 2003.
PC led 32-28 at the half and extended its lead to double figures early in the second half thanks to 3-pointers from Geoff McDermott, Brian McKenzie and Dwain Williams. Arkansas never really made a run at PC because of its sloppy ballhandling and passing.
Providence College is set to announce tonight that the school will retire the jerseys of former All-Americans Jimmy Walker, Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes. The jerseys will be raised to the rafters at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 8, the date of the final Friar regular season game against Villanova.
Currently the only jersey retired by PC has been that of Hall of famer Lenny Wilkens, who starred for PC in the early 1960's. Walker, PC's greatest all-time player, died over the summer and will not be present at the ceremony. PC is planning for members of Walker's family to be in attendance in his honor. DiGregorio and Barnes are both expected to be on hand as well.
For more information on this announcement and reaction from Ernie D., check out Friday's Journal and projo.com
Big East coaches predict that Georgetown and Louisville will compete for the conference's top spot, and Providence will finish right in the middle of the pack, in the just-released preseason coaches poll. Here are the coaches' full rankings:
1. Georgetown/Louisville (tie)
9. Notre Dame
10. West Virginia
13. Seton Hall
14. St. John's
16. South Florida
Sharaud Curry, the leading returning scorer at Providence College, broke his foot in a team workout last week. He'll miss at least six weeks and may not be ready for the team's first game Nov. 15 against Temple in Puerto Rico.
Without Curry, coach Tim Welsh will have to dig into his deep stable of backcourt talent to run the team. Sophomore Dwain Williams will no doubt get the first crack at the starting job but also look for Welsh to play Weyinmi Efejuku, transfer Jeff Xavier and freshman Marshon Brooks at the point spot in Curry's absence.
More on the Curry injury in Tuesday's Journal.
Bilal Dixon, a 6-8 forward at Queen of Peace School in New Jersey, has verbally committed to play at Providence College. Dixon will sign a letter-of-intent with the Friars in November and enroll next fall.
``I told them today, after school,'' Dixon said. ``I felt comfortable at Providencd. It's the right decision.''
Dixon spent two years at famed St. Anthony's High in his hometown of Jersey City, N.J. He moved to Queen of Peace last year and blossomed into a major D-1 target. He ended up selecting Providence over UNLV, St. John's, Siena and other colleges.
Dixon fills the only available scholarship Tim Welsh is scheduled to have for the 2008-09 season. More on the signing in Wednesday's Journal.
VEROLI, Italy - The Providence College men’s basketball team defeated Veroli, an Italian professional team, 128-68, on Friday, in Veroli, Italy at the Pala Coccia.
The Friars were led by the strong play of junior center Randall Hanke, who came off the bench to score a team-high 24 points. As a team, Providence shot an impressive 57.3 percent from the floor.
Providence was playing its first of a six-games on a 13-day tour of Italy. The Friars, who posted an 18-13 mark last season, brought 11 returning players to Italy for the tour. Due to NCAA rules, PC’s three incoming freshmen were not eligible to attend the trip.
The Friars, a veteran team that features one senior, seven juniors and three sophomores, dominated the game from the opening tip. Junior forward Jonathan Kale led all Friar starters with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Junior point guard Sharaud Curry registered 13 assists in 23 minutes of action. Sophomore guard Dwain Williams also had an impressive game, scoring 18 points while shooting 4-7 from three-point territory.
Inaugural Cox R.I. Sports Awards to be held tonight
Cox Sports Television (www.cox-sports.com) will recognize the Ocean State’s best high school scholar-athletes from each sport for every season at tonight's inaugural Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards, beginning at 7:30 at the Providence Performing Arts Center at 220 Weybossett St.
In addition to recognizing more than 100 of Rhode Island’s top scholar-athletes, the event, presented by Amica, will also feature the presentation of the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year to Boston Celtic and former Providence College All-American Ryan Gomes and the Vanguard Award to BIG EAST Commissioner Mike Tranghese.
Others expected to participate in the ceremony are Governor Donald L. Carcieri, ESPN’s Doris Burke, Green Bay Packers and former Boston College and Bishop Hendricken standout Will Blackmon, PC basketball standout Herbert Hill, Boston Celtics President Richard Gotham and BIG EAST founder Dave Gavitt .
Joe Trapani, the transfer from Vermont, has picked Boston College over PC and Michigan.
Trapani is a 6-7 shooting forward from Connecticut who was one of the top freshmen in the America East in 2006-07 for Vermont. He shocked the Catamounts when he decided to leave the school at the end of this year. He visited the three schools over the last 10 days and called BC and committed this morning.
Kevin McNamara and Bill Reynolds present a special audio slideshow to mark the 20th anniversary of the Providence College Friars' 1987 Final Four team. Pitino's Laboratory looks at the coaching staff -- Rick Pitino, Gordie Chiesa, Herb Sendek, Stu Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Sean Kearney -- and how each member went on to grander things after that great season in Providence. Click here to watch and listen. And click here to see the audio slideshow done last week by Bill and Art Martone: Dream About Cutting Down the Nets, the story of that 1987 season.
Providence College senior center Herbert Hill earned the Jimmy Walker Most Valuable Player and the Marvin Barnes Defensive Player awards as the Friars announced their team awards yesterday.
Hill led the team in scoring (18.1 ppg) and the Big East in league games with a 19.9 ppg average. Over the course of the season he also recorded 14 double-doubles.
In the Big East he was named Most Improved Player, named to the First Team All-Big East, and was Big East Player of the Week twice this season.
Other awards included Jonathan Kale receiving the Unsung Hero Award for averaging 7.0 ppg and 4.2 rebounds per game after starting the team’s final 18 games. Sophomore Weyinmi Efejuku earned the Coca-Cola Most Improved Player Award after starting all 31 games and finishing third in scoring with 14.1 ppg.
300 tickets left for event honoring PC's 1987 Final Four team
Only 300 tickets remain for Providence College’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1987 men’s basketball team’s trip to the Final Four. The event will be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Saturday, May 12, beginning at 7 p.m.
Sponsorship packages, tables of ten or individual tickets can be purchased by calling Steve Napolillo at 401-865-2677. Tickets also can be ordered online at www.friars.com. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Friar Athletic Fund.