By Jack Belanger ’21
This past weekend marked a historic moment for Providence College Athletics with the official dedication of PC’s new basketball training facility, the Ruane Friar Development Center. This $30 million facility broke ground last school year and was completed in time for the team to begin using it this fall. The facility includes two full-sized basketball courts, a float tank, a studio for interviews, and (believe it or not) a barbershop.
While some students do not see why the College would build such a large, expensive building that is used regularly by a small group of students, a new practice facility has been a long-time coming after the College undertook many other upgrades around campus.
When current men’s basketball head coach, Ed Cooley, was hired back in 2011, Athletic Director Bob Driscoll told Cooley that the school had multiple projects before creating a new practice facility. Since then, the College has seen the creation of Anderson Stadium, the relocation and upgrade of Glay Field, and renovations of Schneider Arena and the Taylor Natatorium. PC has also seen the construction of the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies and, more recently, the science complex.
For both men’s and women’s basketball, a new practice facility was a necessity to remain competitive in the Big East. Former head coach Tim Welsh found that he lost many recruits to schools with facilities specific for basketball.
Now that the Big East is comprised of schools focused on basketball, many of the schools upgraded their facilities. According to Cooley, PC was the last school in the Big East to get a basketball-specific facility. Being the smallest school in the Big East, the Friars need every advantage they can get.
To attract the best recruits in the northeast, having a facility that compares to those at Syracuse University and the University of Connecticut is crucial. This season Cooley was able to keep Providence native David Duke ’22 from leaving the state and also kept Massachusetts native A.J. Reeves ’22 close to home.
Cooley has kept the Friars relevant with five-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. With the news of a new practice facility, he has brought in possibly his best recruiting class, which is just another step for the Friars to reach the level of rivals like Villanova University, who compete for a national championship year after year.
While a championship is far from guaranteed right now, a new practice facility and a top recruiting class shows progress in the ever-changing landscape of college basketball where recruiting has become more competitive than ever. While everyone at PC hopes for quick improvement this season in the team’s success, Driscoll and Cooley have built a program with the potential to stay competitive for years to come.