Dan Lyons is an RTC Big East microsite contributor who also writes for the Syracuse blog, “Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.” You can find him on Twitter @Dan_Lyons76. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s match-up between Cincinnati and Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Providence has played this entire season teetering on the edge. On one side, losses to the likes of Penn State, UMass, Brown, and DePaul don’t inspire much confidence for Ed Cooley‘s squad going forward. On the other hand, the only game this season that really got away from the Friars was the January 2nd 80-62 loss to then #4 Louisville. Every other Friar loss has been within ten points, with two having gone to overtime – the games against Penn State and UConn. Since the loss to UConn, however, Providence’s luck has seemed to turn a bit. They went to Villanova, a team that had just logged back to back home wins against the conference’s two big dogs Louisville and Syracuse, and knocked off the Wildcats, and then followed that up with last night’s close win at home against #17 Cincinnati.
Providence’s road to relevance under Cooley has been a treacherous one, but there has been reason for hope. Cooley has been recruiting well above the expectations laid forth by Providence’s 42-53 record over the last three seasons. Last season Cooley reeled in five-star prospects Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo and he currently has 2013 commitment from four-star small forward prospect Brandon Austin. He also inherited a team with capable players like Kadeem Batts, Bryce Cotton, and Vincent Council. However, in a college basketball landscape where inexperience is no longer an excuse for poor performance, Providence’s turnaround hasn’t translated to on-the-court success as quickly as some fans probably hoped.