Future Bright For PC Basketball

Mar 16, 2017

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Repeat it, PC basketball fans.

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Say those words every four hours – Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, wash them down with a Guinness – and you should feel better.

Yes, Providence College’s 75-71 loss to USC in their First Four game Wednesday night at Dayton was disappointing. Especially after an uninspired loss to Creighton in the Big East quarterfinals last week. And especially after leading the Trojans by 15 points, 44-29, at the half and by 17 early in the second half.

But these Friars weren’t even supposed to be in the NCAA Tournament this season. After three consecutive trips to The Big Dance, they lost their two stars, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, to the NBA Draft. Remember? They started the season without a proven floor leader and supporting players thrust into regular roles. Remember? Then, during the season, this team developed its own identity. Rodney Bullock emerged as the leader and top scorer. Kyron Cartwright took over as the ball handler. Jalen Lindsey complemented Bullock. Emmitt Holt did the job on the boards. Freshman Alpha Diallo began to assert himself.

And the Friars (20-13), picked to finish ninth, finished third instead. Third! So much for the predictions of coaches. Their First Four invitation put them in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, an unprecedented achievement for the program.

The good news from this post-season is that everyone will return for the 2018 campaign. They will have learned their lessons. They will understand that come NCAA Tournament Time, everybody is good. And every minute of every game counts. And a 15-point halftime lead is just that. A halftime lead.

I’m sure PC coach Ed Cooley will drive home those points, if he hasn’t already. Experience is the best teacher, though, and now the Friars have the experience.

We weren’t supposed to be there? This year, for sure. But next year, PC basketball fans, I expect you will be chanting, “We are supposed to be there!”