Providence College basketball

The Providence College Friars beat Creighton 65-53 in the start of Big East Conference play Wednesday. The men's overall record is now 11-3.

PC says this is the first time the Friars have won their conference season-opener since 2008.

Senior forward LaDontae Henton led the Friars with 35 points and 8 rebounds.

The game at the Dunkin Donuts Center was a re-match of last season's Big East championship, when PC beat Creighton 65-58. The win marked the Friars' first victory in the Big East in 20 years.

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is considering Citizens Bank executive Barbara Cottam for a top position in her new administration, according to Statehouse sources.

Cottam, who has vast experience in both the private and political sectors in Rhode Island, is under consideration for chief of staff, one of the most important positions in any gubernatorial administration.

Services for the late Joe Vileno Jr., a quintessential Providence character and political activist, are scheduled for Tuesday evening at Nardollilo Funeral Home, 1278 Park Avenue, in Cranston. Calling hours are from 5 to 8 p.m. Committal and burial will be private.

Joe died earlier this week at age 76. He had a history of heart ailments and his family requests that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the American Heart Association.

Providence College

Marvin Barnes, who rose from the gritty neighborhood of South Providence to the NCAA Final Four on the legendary 1973 Providence College basketball team and later had a promising career in professional basketball that  was cut short by drug addiction and scrapes with the law, has died. He was 62.

Barnes death was first reported by ProJo sports writer Kevin McNamara, who wrote that he got the news from Barnes old friend and teammate, Kevin Stacom. He died at his Providence home.

Rhode Island's Attorney General has concluded an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against two Providence College basketball players. Neither player will face criminal charges.

The grand jury found insufficient evidence against Rodney Bullock, who remains a student at PC, and Brandon Austin, who has left the school.

The players were accused of sexually assaulting a female student in November 2013. The allegations resulted in a suspension of play for both players this past season and a campus disciplinary hearing.

Providence College has offered a new five-year contract to President Brian Shanley, who has led the private Catholic college for the last decade.

Shanley, a member of the Dominican order, has presided over the construction of a new building to house PC's humanities program, a two-year requirement for all students, and the accreditation of a new business school. He is also credited with shepherding a reorganization of the Big East Athletic Conference.

Upsets this time of year have become the norm for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. The hoop experts fall over each other to predict which underdog teams will knock off the favorites.

This year, a trendy pick has become the Providence College team which faces the University of North Carolina tomorrow evening in San Antonio. UNC is seeded at 6 and plays in the very tough Atlantic Coast Conference. PC is an 11 seed.

Providence College officials are urging the public not to rush to judgment after The Wall Street Journal reported a police investigation of two basketball players, as the Friars head to Texas for the first round of NCAA tournament.

PC Spokesman Steve Maurano says the school conducted its own investigation of the sexual assault allegations when they first surfaced in November.

Since the 1950s, Providence College basketball has been one of the great story lines in all of college sports, a New England version of the cinematic Hoosiers.

This tale flat-lined for too many years. But make no mistake: the Friars are back to the future, playing a marquee game tonight at Madison Square Garden, where the PC hoop legend really began all those years ago, in the early 1960s, with the National Invitational Tournament, when that post-season playoff at the Garden overshadowed the NCAA’s tournament.

The excitement in these parts around Providence College basketball is back, arguably for the first time since the late 1990s. The Friar hoopsters are in the Big East semi-finals for the first time since 1997 by virtue of yesterday’s 79-74 win over St. John’s.

PC was able to withstand a furious run at the end by St. John’s to win on what is virtually the St. John’s home court at Madison Square Garden. This has been a remarkable team coached by Ed Cooley that has overcome all sorts of obstacles, including the loss of crucial players and injuries.