Softball Heads Toward End of Season
Big East Tournament Set for Next Week
Stephen Foster ’22
The Providence College Softball Team is approaching the end of their 2022 season. They have an overall record of 24 wins and 19 losses and a conference record of 10 wins and 11 losses. Coach Jill Karwoski mentioned that one highlight from the season so far was winning in extra innings over the University of Connecticut, who is in first place in the Big East Conference, to snap their nine-game win streak.
Karwoski had many great things to say about the graduating seniors, especially their resilience and the impact that they have had on the PC softball program. This group of seniors had to go through a lot to get where they are today, including much of their college career being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained, “Every year we get to this point in the season and look at our soon to be graduating seniors and say, ‘I can’t believe it’s been four years.’ This year is no different, however, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that this year’s seniors’ careers were filled with unique ups and downs, Covid pauses and cancellations and nontraditional seasons. These past few years have been everything but ‘normal’ and I am extremely proud of their ability to overcome, persevere, and prevail. Each senior, whether they had been with our program for one year or four, will have left with us a foundation of resiliency and a path to success for years to come.”
The Friars’ softball coach also highlighted the significance of the freshmen on the team this year, explaining, “So many first-year players have been making an immediate impact on the field. And those not on the field have been equally committed to our culture and continue to improve weekly as well as positively influencing our program every day. This is both rewarding this season as well as for the future of our program.” With seven freshmen on the team this season, it is important that they commit to the team culture and continue to improve as they grow to play greater on-field roles over the next three years.
The team has a three-game home series against DePaul University before the regular season comes to a close. They play Friday, May 6 at 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m., and finish the series off with Senior Day on Sunday, May 8 at 12:00 p.m. Following this series, the Big East Tournament begins on Thursday, May 12 and goes until Saturday, May 14. Regarding the Friars’ potential in making the tournament, Coach Karwoski explained, “We are still looking to qualify for a tournament berth. The Big East Tournament takes the top four teams and it’s a dogfight for the last three spots. UConn has clinched but Villanova, Butler, DePaul, and us are still in the race. It may come down to our last home series next week vs. DePaul, but we have to take care of business today vs. Butler.”
The Providence College Softball Team managed to pick up one win out of three games against Butler this past weekend, bringing them in need of some wins down the final stretch against DePaul University. Karwoski highlighted, “This upcoming last home series vs. DePaul will be the biggest weekend for us yet with likely playoff implications. I encourage all Friar fans to come out in full force Friday night. Saturday we will welcome back our Alumni, and Sunday we will celebrate our Seniors. We know there is both power and magic to competing in Friartown, so I thank everyone who has come out thus far to cheer us on and hope to see everyone this weekend. Go Friars!” Make sure you find your way to Glay Field this upcoming weekend to cheer on the Providence College Softball Team as they take on DePaul with hopes of securing a spot in the Big East Tournament.
Celebrities Who Should’ve Been at the Big East Tournament
- Pete Davidson (only if he brought Kim)
- Kanye West (would he and Pete fight?)
- Dean Sears
- Timothée Chalamet
- Nicole Patano (our fave EIC)
- Nate Watson (think he’d make a TikTok with me?)
- Big Time Rush (without their opening act)
- Dot (PC misses her greatly)
- The Cheetah Girls
- The OG Hamilton cast
- Zendaya and Tom Holland
- Beyonce and Jay Z
- Obama and Michelle
- Gordon Ramsey
- Shawn Mendes
- Taylor Swift (but only if she sang You Belong With Me)
The cast of Euphoria (especially Alexa Demie)
Friars Locked in During NCAA Tournament
Kansas University and the First Sweet Sixteen in 25 Years is Ahead
Joseph Quirk ’23
The month of March is synonymous with two things: luck and madness. Despite all the chaos and craziness the other 11 months of the year can offer, few have a case to match up against the month of St. Patrick’s Day, the day of the year most associated with luck and chaos, and of course, March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
There are 64 teams invited to the tournament, any of whom can win on a given day. If you are a college basketball fan, this is the best time of the year. And with all the luck that comes with St. Patrick’s Day and all the luck needed to win in March, the “luckiest team in the country” needs all the luck they can heading into the big dance.
The Providence College Friars Men’s Basketball team headed into this weekend excited. Fresh off their first Big East regular season title in school history, the Friars would own the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament.
The Big East tournament itself was celebrating its 40th anniversary of being hosted by Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena. The biggest stage, in the biggest city, the Friar fans came out in force. Descending on MSG and New York City, head coach Ed Cooley was quick to tab MSG as “the Dunk South” as during the Friars first game against Butler University, loud cheers in support of the Friars were heard all afternoon.
The Butler Bulldogs were coming off an overtime thriller of a win the night before over Xavier University. However, in a start like far too many this season, the Friars started off slow. They had trouble scoring and playing defense.
The only Friar who really showed up was big man Nate Watson ’22, who finished the game leading the Friars with 26 points, added seven rebounds, and a block. Redshirt junior guard Jared Bynum ’23 also had a solid afternoon with 16 points. But once again, the Friars came back and gritted out a win, a common theme for the “luckiest team in the country” this season.
When asked on Friday about his team’s performance, Coach Cooley referenced Thursday’s matchup saying, “Quite frankly I didn’t think we played well yesterday, and we just found a way to win.” This has been the theme of the Friars entire dream season, gutting out ways to win.
Prior to Friday’s matchup against Creighton University, the Friars were 18-20 in games decided by 10-points or less and 12-14 in games decided by five points or less. Both of the losses were to Villanova University, who won both games by a total margin of victory of seven points.
The Friars’ total record was 25-4, meaning close to half of their wins were decided by fewer than five points and just over half were decided by 10 points. That is a scary thin margin of victory; even though it can be said that this is a veteran savvy team that finds ways to win, which is invaluable in March, it still is a dangerously fine line.
The other two losses the Friars had suffered this season to a team not named Villanova University were by 32 points in an away game to Marquette University and by 18 points to the University of Virginia. Safe to say that when it rains, it pours on the Friars.
On Friday the Friars played the Creighton Blue Jays, the No. 4 seed in the tournament coming off a thriller against Marquette. And Creighton dominated.
The Friars struggled once they let Creighton get on a big run in the first half and could never regain any momentum. Their defense fell apart. They couldn’t score either inside or outside and Creighton big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Big East defensive player of the year, dominated to the tune of 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. This, added with Alex O’Connell’s team leading 18 points, Arthur Kaluma’s 17 points and Trey Alexander’s 15 points led Creighton to an easy 42-27 victory.
After the game coach Cooley spoke on trying to keep his squad motivated, saying, “When you play a game like this you know A) your ego can get shattered and B) your confidence can get shattered, and I just want them to understand that it is only one game. Obviously, it’s a really big stage, great arena, great support, great crowd, that’s what the Big East tournament is about.”
Coach Cooley also noted that he thought that the team’s best basketball was ahead of them and that they had earned the right to play in the coming NCAA tournament. He remained firm in his belief that whomever the Friars face next, they can beat.
The concern, however, must be the slow starts. Cooley’s team can pull comebacks against Depaul and Butler any day, but when facing some of the top competition from the Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC, that may be a much taller task.
Plus, it needs to be remembered that the 18-point loss to Virginia, the Friar’s first of the season, came on a neutral court, to a worse team on the second day of a back-to-back. That was the exact same scenario that the Friars faced when they were blown out by Creighton. When the tournament arrives, the Friars’ are going to need to be able to play consistently regardless of their schedule or location. .
Of course, the Friars’ success in the tourney will in large part be due to their seeding. Coach Cooley said that it was “something I can’t control” and that “our body of work, I just don’t want our seeding to be determined by one game.”
In terms of using this game as a humbling experience and one to rally around, Cooley said he reminded his team about their first Big East loss of the season, a 32-point loss to Marquette, after which his squad won 8 straight. However, he noted that “we don’t need to win 8.”
Since that embarrassment in the Big East tournament however, the Friars are 2-0. On Sunday, the Friars returned to a roaring crowd after a big weekend in Buffalo to kick off the March Madness tournament.
The Friars started by knocking off 13 seed South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits were a popular pick to upset the Friars in the first round, with an electric offense that was one of the top in the nation and a hot streak of 21 straight wins.
But the Friars took care of business and punched their ticket to the round of 32, where they met a hot University of Richmond team, fresh off winning their own conference tournament and beating the Big 10 champion Iowa State Hawkeyes in the first round.
Still doubted, having the second consecutive game against a double digit seed and second consecutive game where they were favored by as little as under three points, the Friars routed the Spiders 79-51, in what looked like their best and most well-rounded game of the season.
Now the Friars head to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997, where they will take on the University of Kansas, a blue-blood program and number one-seed in the Midwest region.
The Friars can handle the Jayhawks, assuming they can lock down guards Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin. The Jayhawks are a good team, coached by legendary coach Bill Self.
While this is true, this is not Self’s best squad he has ever had. If the Friars can shoot the way they have been the last couple of games, they have a legitimate shot to be in the Elite Eight.
If they can manage to pull off a upset, as Kansas is currently favored by over 7 points, then they will secure a date with another team in the double-digit seeds, either a cinderella University of Miami (FL) team or a hot Iowa State University team with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
All eyes will be on the Friars this Friday at 7:15 p.m. as the Friars tip-off against Kansas at the United Center in Chicago.
Providence College Investigates
Who Will Win the Big East Tournament?
Will Murphy ’23
As March Madness rapidly approaches, one of the most highly anticipated conference tournaments this year is the Big East Tournament, taking place in Madison Square Garden March 9-12.
The Big East has been one of the premier conferences in college basketball all year and is projected to have upwards of six NCAA Tournament teams. That should make for an action-packed week in New York City.
The Providence College Friars enter the tournament atop the conference, as regular-season champs. The Friars have been one of the best in the nation in close games down the stretch. Many analysts have attributed this to luck, but the experience of the Friars has benefitted them time and time again.
The Friars will also be riding high on the momentum from winning the Big East regular-season title for the first time in program history.
Graduate transfer Al Durham ’22 has run the point for the Friars with the calm demeanor necessary to win close games in the always competitive Big East.
Big man Nate Watson ’22 has been one of the best centers in the country all year for the Friars, and his physicality wears our opponents.
AJ Reeves ’22 is another experienced Friar, one who has the potential for an offensive explosion each game. His three-point shooting will be key in the Big East Tournament, as the offense opens for the rest of the team when he can knock down threes.
Jared Bynum ’23 has come on incredibly strong, recently winning Big East Player of the Week twice during conference play. His presence off the bench will also be key for the Friars as he provides instant offense that few other players within the conference can match.
Noah Horchler ’22 is another crucial player for the Friars whose experience will be invaluable during tournament play. His defense has improved significantly from last year, and his rebounding should help the Friars limit their opponents to only one shot per possession in the tournament.
Justin Minaya ’22 is one of the best defensive stoppers in the nation. His versatility on defense has been a significant factor to the Friars’ success, and his ability to guard the opposing team’s best player is a reason the Friars are such a threat to win the tournament.
Ed Croswell ’22 is another player who has made great improvements since last year’s campaign, and his energy has been critical to the team’s success all year.
Overall, the Friars’ combination of depth, experience, and defensive prowess will result in them being crowned the Big East Regular Season and Tournament champions.
Luke Sweeney ’24
Tuesday, March 1 marks the official end of the historic 2022 regular season for the Providence College Men’s Basketball team. In their final game, they faced off against the Villanova Wildcats at the Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, PA. In a close contest once again, the Wildcats came up victorious, 76-74, to sweep the season series.
For those who have followed Big East basketball this season, Providence and Villanova have consistently been on top of the pack and have proved that they have the players and team ability to go head-to-head with some of the toughest teams in the nation. Coach Ed Cooley and the Friars made history on Saturday when they beat Creighton University to win Providence’s first Big East regular season championship in program history.
Despite the unprecedented season by the Friars, Villanova is still a dangerous team which has the potential to go far in both the Big East Tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament in mid-March. With a stacked lineup of extremely efficient shooters, including the NBA prospect Collin Gillespie, it is hard to find a team in the NCAA that the Wildcats cannot keep up with.
One of the biggest elements of tournament play in men’s college basketball is experience. A team with age and experience in big-time games is almost as important as a team’s record in the current year. Experience is something that Villanova seldomly lacks, year in and year out. Fifth-year point guard Gillespie was last year’s Big East Player of The Year and has a national championship under his belt. Fellow fifth-year and Massachusetts native Jalen Samuels also has a national championship ring and has had an outstanding year defensively. If they can use their age and depth in the right ways during the Big East Tournament, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Wildcats won’t win it all.
Head coach Jay Wright has had an incredible career with Villanova thus far, and hopes to add to his trophy collection when he and his team travel to Madison Square Garden this year. Since his first year as head coach, he has achieved a 490-189 record (72.2 winning percentage), including a wildly impressive 30-15 record in the NCAA tournament. He will without a doubt be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame by the end of his career.
Lastly, the Villanova Wildcats have played out the no. 4-ranked strength of schedule during the 2021-2022 regular season, including hard fought battles against top-ranked opponents such as PC and Purdue University. It will most definitely be interesting to see how the Big East Tournament pans out, but I am picking the Villanova Wildcats to hoist the trophy.
Men’s Soccer Loses Heartbreaker
Friars Fall to Georgetown in OT
By Joe Quirk ’23
The Providence College Men’s Soccer Team suffered a brutal and unfortunate loss in overtime of the final game in the 2021 Big East Tournament. The Friars lost to the nationally ranked No. 7 Georgetown University Hoyas with mere minutes remaining in overtime after a costly turnover in the Friars’ end of the pitch which allowed the Hoyas to put in the game winner. The victory must feel good for Georgetown as just over a month ago the Friars beat the Hoyas at Chapey Field 3-0 when Georgetown was still ranked No. 1 in the country.
The Friars were one of the best teams in the country this season, let alone the Big East. They finished the regular season with a fantastic 10-4-4 record and a 5-2-3 record in conference play. These were enough to get the team a bye into the Big East semifinals which were held this past Thursday, Nov. 11. The Big East tournament this year was hosted at Georgetown University, and the Friars played both their games on the eventual champions’ home pitch. In their semifinal matchup, the Friars hosted the Butler University Bulldogs and won with a score of 2-0. It was a close game for both squads until 64’ when the first Friar goal was netted by Brendan McSorley ’24. Luis Garcia ’23 was credited with the assist on McSorley’s goal. Just about a minute later, at 65’, the Friars added to their lead when Gevork Diarbian ’24 scored with an assist from Simon Triantafillou ’22. The game featured only two yellow cards, evenly distributed amongst the two teams. However, the Friars were responsible for 18 fouls, double that of Butler. Despite that, PC outshot Butler 9-8 (Providence only put up three shots in the second half, two of which found their way in the net). After the game, PC goaltender Lukas Burns ’24, who stopped a big penalty kick at 56’, was asked about the “DNA” of this Providence team. “Since the first day I’ve been here, it’s fighting to the very last minute, working together as a team, we’re a very blue-collar team and we just fight,” said Burns after his shutout performance.
The victory punched Providence’s ticket to the Big East Tournament final game to determine the champion of the conference. The game, played at Georgetown University this past Sunday, Nov. 11, ended in a much more heartbreaking fashion for the Friars. Burns’ comments from after the previous game would prove true, as the Friars scrapped with the previously four-time champion Hoyas all the way until the game-winner in overtime. After a half of scoreless play, Georgetown would score first, putting the Hoyas up 1-0 in the 51st minute. It would be another 34 minutes until the Friars would knot things up at 1 apiece. At 84’, Brendan McSorely ’24 would score again for the Friars, getting assisted by Paulo Lima ’22 and Gil Santos ’22. In overtime, Georgetown’s Stefan Stojanovic netted his second of the day, getting the ball in the Friars’ offensive zone after a bad turnover. The Hoyas crushed the Friars in shots, outshooting PC 16-9, although PC had more saves, 7-3. The game had nine yellow cards, a far cry from the two-card game the Friars saw in the semifinals.
This is the fifth time in program history that PC has been the runner up in the Big East tournament, and it is also the fifth championship for Georgetown. The Friars had two team members named to the Big East All-Tournament team, goaltender Lukas Burns and forward Brendan McSorley, both of whom played tremendously and in big moments for the Friars throughout the tournament. McSorley was a big offensive spark for the Friars for the duration of the tournament and helped spur the offense to produce when it needed to. As for Burns, he was phenomenal, netting seven saves in the final and having a shutout performance in the semifinal. The only goals Burns allowed in the championship game were a penalty kick, which is a tough save, and the game winner, which was on a tough breakaway play from directly in front of the net. The Friars probably would not have made it as far in the tournament without these two.
The next move for the Friars after an incredible season is hosting Marist College on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m. The Friars did not have an automatic bid from winning the conference, and their loss against Georgetown prevented them from securing a bye into the second round, but the team was able to at least gain home field for their first-round game. Marist entered the MAAC Tournament as the one-seed in their conference and seized an automatic bid to the NCAAs, defeating Rider University on penalty kicks. While Marist is from a weaker conference, they played a competitive out-of-conference schedule in the beginning of the year. Just like the Friars, the Red Foxes fell to the nationally ranked University of New Hampshire 2-1 in the beginning of the season. They defeated St. John’s University 1-0, the same scoreline that the Friars won by when the two sides played in early October. On paper, these scorelines suggest that Thursday night’s game will be a competitive one. This would likely be the only home matchup for the Friars, as the winner of their matchup against the Red Foxes will need to make a trip to West Virginia to square off against Marshall University, who are the NCAA Tournament defending champions, on Sunday, Nov. 21.
Men’s Lacrosse Takes on Denver
With Big East Tournament on the Horizon, PC Prepared
Margaret Maloney ’23
The Providence College Men’s Lacrosse Team has risen to the occasion in this difficult spring 2021 season, and are ready to continue the momentum they had at this time last year before COVID-19 struck. Last year, the Friars started their season 5-1 and were ready to dominate in the Big East tournament. This year, they have used their disappointment as a motivator and now aim to make some noise in the Big East tournament.
The Friars, the fourth seed in the tournament, will take on top-seeded University of Denver on May 6 right here on the PC campus. The Friars have lost their two matchups this year against a talented Denver squad and will look to pull off the upset in their semifinal matchup.
Head coach Chris Gabrielli shared how proud he was of his team for pushing through all sorts of COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, explaining that the adversity has made the team better overall and more committed to the sport. He especially emphasized their win against Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.
Gabrielli explained that the trip to Milwaukee entailed taking “multiple flights and buses, wearing masks, isolating in our hotel rooms…It was an in-and-out trip, leaving the day before, and it was a very quick turnaround to play the next morning, and we just played great.”
He then spoke about how hard it has been mentally for his players to stay healthy, get tested multiple times a week, and also stay focused on the fact that they play the game because they love it. All of the protocols and restrictions have made the season a difficult one, but that all seems to go away when they step on the field to practice or play in games. Gabrielli has made the extra effort to ensure that his players remember this feeling of normalcy.
When talking to coach Gabrielli about preparing for the tournament this season, he explained how important it is to have fun. While the Friars are sticking to their regular practice schedule with extra shooting sessions heading into the tournament, there was an organized “inter-squad scrimmage to make it competitive and fun” for the team the week before the tournament. Gabrielli emphasized that the team is putting in hard work to succeed in the postseason, but it is also important to stay loose going in.
This year, the Friars had eight returning graduates who decided to take advantage of the opportunity given to them by the NCAA to play one more season. When asked about what winning the Big East tournament would mean to him as a coach and what it would mean to his players, Gabrielli responded that “a Big East championship would mean the world to us, especially for all of our fifth year athletes who came back with the goal of competing for a Big East championship on Chapey Field.”
Indeed, PC is lucky enough to host the Big East championship this year, giving the Friars home-field advantage. As they approach their first game in the tournament on May 6, the men’s lacrosse team is fully prepared to excel in the tournament and earn back what they lost last year.
PCI: Who Will Win the Big East Men’s Tournament?
Providence College Investigates: College Basketball
Creighton University Will End Villanova’s Reign
By Jack Belanger ’21
After three straight Big East titles, Villanova University will likely be the favorites once again to be conference champions. If any team is going to end the Wildcats’ reign, it is going to be coach Greg McDermott’s Creighton University Bluejays. Outside the Wildcats, Creighton has the best combination of versatility and experience to make a deep run in the tournament.
The Bluejays are one of the most complete teams in the conference. The team has five players averaging over 10 points per game, led by Marcus Zegarowski, who is averaging 14.9 points a game. Center Christian Bishop leads the entire Big East in field goal percentage, shooting 70 percent.
Creighton’s team defense has played a huge factor in their success. Teams are shooting less than 40 percent against them as well as averaging 68.4 points per game. With all five starters standing between six-feet-two-inches and six-feet-seven-inches, the Bluejays rarely get caught in a mismatch. Where they lack in size they make up for in athleticism.
While they only average three blocks per game, Creighton is second in the Big East in steals, with 7.3 per game. The team does have one shot blocker in seven-foot center Ryan Kalkbrenner who can come off the bench when the team needs to protect the paint.
The Bluejays are one of the few teams that match up well against the Wildcats. In their first meeting of the season, Creighton won 86-70 with 25 points from Zegarowski. The team was hot from the three-point line, knocking down 46.2 percent of their shots. It was Villanova’s biggest loss of the season.
With five losses in the Big East, Creighton is far from a perfect team. They split their season series with Providence College thanks to center Nate Watson ’21 dominating the paint and a bad day behind the arc. While anything can happen in the tournament, what works in the favor of the Bluejays is they have an experienced team that is used to playing under pressure.
All of Creighton’s starters are juniors or seniors with experience playing in the Big East Tournament. With the cancelation of last year’s tournament, teams with freshmen and sophomores could be prone to mistakes when the game is on the line.
Even if they are not making shots, Creighton is one of the more disciplined teams in the conference. With the third best turnover margin, the Bluejays know how to protect the ball as well as create opportunities for themselves.
Everyone will be aiming to take down Villanova and end their reign as champs. Creighton is in second place for a reason. They can match up with the Wildcats better than anyone else and cover up their own flaws. After three straight titles, Villanova’s run will end thanks to the Bluejays.
Villanova Will Win Their Fourth Straight
By Liam Tormey ’22
Sports Assistant Editor
Villanova University has won the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament four times in the last six years. This year, once again, the Wildcats will win the Big East tournament.
Currently one of the best teams in the country, as they sit at the top of the Big East standings, the Wildcats’ offensive firepower is going to carry them to a title. First things first: all of Villanova’s starting five is averaging double-digit figures. That five includes the reliable Collin Gillespie, alongside Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, and Caleb Daniels. Any player in the group has the firepower to take over a game, and that will be crucial come tournament time.
Gillespie, a battle-tested senior, has done it all in his time at Villanova and will be a major reason why the Wildcats will come away with another Big East title. This season, Gillespie is averaging 14.4 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. A part of the 2018 Villanova National Championship team, Gillespie’s leadership will continue to be infinitely valuable to the team when they enter Madison Square Garden in March.
Sophomore Robinson-Earl has continued to show all year why he was ranked as an elite prospect coming out of high school. He is the Wildcats’ leading scorer this season with 15.5 points per game to go along with 7.9 rebounds. His season high this year was a 28-point game against Arizona State, but he has proven to have the ability to put up consistent numbers every game.
Another sophomore, Moore, has also provided solid scoring for the Wildcats. Averaging 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, Moore is a two-way guard who has continued to improve his game since arriving at Villanova.
Samuels and Daniels finish out one of the most complete starting fives in college basketball. Samuels, the 6-foot-7-inch senior, has shown his capability all year long. Averaging 11.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds, Samuels can put up big numbers, especially after his 32-point performance in early February against Georgetown University. Daniels adds another 10.6 points per game for the Wildcats, rounding out the starting five.
The Wildcats do not have a deep roster of guys coming off the bench, but the capable play of players such as Cole Swider and Brandon Slater will be beneficial come tournament time.
Let us not forget about how great of a coach Jay Wright is, too. In his 20th year as the head coach of Villanova, Wright has won the Big East tournament four times, has been to the Final Four three times, and has won a National Championship twice. There is no question he will have his guys ready to play in the tournament, no matter who they come up against.
PCI: Who Will Win the Big East Tournament?
Seton Hall University
by Leo Hainline ’22
The Big East Tournament is just around the corner, and the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team is looking to become champions for the first time since 2014. And with their recent form, the Friars have shown they are more than capable of making a deep run. It would be quite an accomplishment as the Big East is notably deep this year, full of talented programs from top to bottom. One of these teams is Seton Hall University, a foe that will unfortunately end up winning the tournament over the Friars.
Indeed, Seton Hall appears to have the regular-season championship and no. 1 seed locked up as they sit at 13-3 in Big East play. However, they do play two tough games this week first against Villanova University and then away at Creighton University. Both of these teams currently sit at 11-5 in the conference and will likely be the two and three seeds, respectively.
If Providence finishes its season with wins in their games vs. Xavier University and DePaul University, they will be at worse the four seed. Xavier, Marquette University, and Butler University are all strong programs that are currently sitting in the projected NCAA tournament field. Georgetown University, St. John’s University, and DePaul, could potentially pull off an upset in an early-round (St. John’s has the energy and home-court advantage to cause a high seed some trouble), but they do not pose much of a threat to win it all.
Seton Hall, though, has arguably the most complete team in the Big East. They have a senior leader in Myles Powell who can get a bucket in the biggest moments and is a player who loves playing in New York City. 7’2’’ Romaro Gill is a tough matchup for anyone. Quincy McKnight, Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, and Jared Rhoden can all knock down shots and fill out the roster nicely. Here and there, Powell has had poor performances, but it is hard to see him having any letdowns at Madison Square Garden. Seton Hall is also having a historically great year for the program – the last time they won the Big East regular season was in 1992-93 under coach PJ Carlesimo. That year, they won the Big East Tournament and won at Villanova for the first time in 25 years.
If the Pirates finish their regular season with momentum from wins over Villanova and Creighton, I think that there is no doubt they have the best shot at winning the Big East Tournament.
by Meaghan Cahill ’20
The 2020 Big East Tournament is fast approaching and, at the moment, it is completely up for grabs. Seton Hall University is arguably the favorite to win the whole tournament, but the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team is currently in a position that could very much challenge that. I predict that they will be victorious in the tournament.
The main reason why PC has a shot at winning the entire tournament is because, compared to the other teams, their momentum has finally kicked in and it is strong enough to carry them throughout the tournament. Coming off of one of the best months of basketball play, PC has won four-straight games, with three of those wins coming against top-ranked teams. According to ESPN, PC is one of only five teams ever to knock off five top 25 teams in a month.
The most recent was their upset win against Big East rival Villanova University, who is ranked third in the Big East, just behind Seton Hall and Creighton University, and 14th in the country. This 58-54 win secured the Friars a first round bye in the tournament. In addition, with the exception of Xavier University, PC has beaten every team in the Big East.
Alongside their momentum, Luwane Pipkins ’20GS has finally found some consistency. Playing what is without a doubt his best play this season pointwise, Pipkins has finished the last four games with 27, 24, 16, and 13 points, respectively. He also shot 71 percent against Georgetown University, 64 percent against Marquette University, and 54 percent against Villanova. Averaging about 20 points per game, the burst in Pipkins play has, without a doubt, transformed a formally dismal season and has given the team life and chance to secure a NCAA tournament bid.
With Pipkins leading the way, other Friars such as Alpha Diallo ’20 and Maliek White ’20 are playing exceptionally well and other teams will have a hard time shutting them down defensively. Diallo scored a remarkable 35 points against no. 1 ranked Seton Hall and White scored 15 points against Villanova.
In addition to players such as Pipkins finding his stride, the Friars’ defense has been a key component to the success that the team is finding. As head coach Ed Cooley said after the team’s upset against Villanova, “We hang our hat on defense.”
The tenacity that the Friars are displaying after their dismal 6-6 start to the season, along with the fact that key players such as Pipkins, Diallo, and White are finding a way to make their presence known on the court and their recent stellar defensive play are all reasons as to why they have the best shot to claiming this year’s Big East title.PCO
Men’s Soccer Advances to Championship Game
Team Will Take on Top-Seeded Georgetown University
By Liam Tormey ’22
Since making it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament in 2016, the Friars have not been back. This season, the Friars are looking to get right back into it—and now they have a very good chance to do so.
Before the Big East Tournament started last Saturday against Marquette University, the Friars finished the regular season with a record of 12-5. Head Coach Craig Stewart led the team to a 6-3 record in Big East conference play and was able to protect Chapey Field, finishing the regular season at 8-2.
The Friars went into the Big East Tournament last Saturday at home as the No. 3 seed in the tournament facing off against No. 6 Marquette. Earlier in the season, on Oct. 12, the Friars beat Marquette 2-0 with goals coming from Davis Smith ’21 and Esben Wolf ’23.
This past Saturday, the Friars held another shutout in the first round of the Big East Tournament, winning 3-0. Goals in this game for Coach Stewart’s team came from Wolf, Trevor Davock ’20RS, and Paulo Lima ’22. The Friars held Marquette to only two shots on target last Saturday with goalkeeper Austin Aviza ’20RS picking up his eighth shutout of the season
In the game this past Wednesday, the Friars continued their fight in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament against the No. 2 seed and the No. 8 ranked team in the country, St. John’s University. St. John’s had a bye in the first round of the tournament but played the Friars at home in Queens, NY
In the final Big East game of the regular season on Nov. 6, the Friars shut out St. John’s in a 2-0 victory at home with goals again from Lima and Wolf.
The semifinals on Wednesday may have been one of the most entertaining games of the season for the Friars. PC went down early to the Red Storm with a 1-0 deficit at the half. Five minutes into the half, Lima scored a header off a corner from Joao Serrano ’20RS to make it 1-1.
The second half was controlled by the Friars, and with just under four minutes to go, Smith put a rebound in the back of the net to take the lead. The game was not over yet as Aviza came up with one more big save with less than 20 seconds left to secure a 2-1 victory in Queens.
Due to the Friars’ great performances throughout the season, five Providence College players received postseason honors. Tiago Mendonca ’20RS and Serrano were both named to the Big East First Team All-Conference. Lima was named to the Second Team All-Conference while Aviza and Danny Griffin ’20 were named to the Third Team All-Conference.
In the season as a whole, Lima led the Friars in scoring with eight goals along with an assist. Serrano led the team in assists with eight and also tallied four goals. Both players have appeared in every single game for PC. Davock and Smith both shared the same stat line after the season’s end with four goals and four assists.
After going to a shootout in the game earlier in the day, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 3 ranked team in the country, Georgetown University, won in penalty kicks over Butler University. The Friars will now travel to Washington D.C. to play in the Big East Tournament Final at 12 p.m. on Nov. 17.
Field Hockey Falls Short of Title
By Jack Belanger ’21
For the fourth consecutive season, the Providence College Field Hockey Team earned a spot in the Big East Tournament to play for the league’s conference title. With a conference record of 4-3, the Friars were able to finish fourth in the conference and grab the final playoff spot.
Needing a win to get past the semifinals, PC was set to face-off against the top-seeded University of Connecticut Huskies, who were ranked No. 3 in the country according to the NFHCA Coaches Poll. The two teams met earlier this season with the Friars losing to the Huskies 0-3 down in Storrs, CT. Unfortunately for the Friars, they would suffer a similar outcome, seeing their season come to an end with a tough 0-2 loss against their Big East rival.
The Friars got off to a slow start in the first quarter, failing to register a shot on goal. Luckily the defense was able to keep the Huskies at bay and go into the second quarter tied at zero.
PC almost took the lead early in the second frame. Mary O’Reilly ’20 forced a turnover in Connecticut’s zone and manged to fire a shot that went just off the far post. Forward/Midfield Izzy Mendez ’20 got the rebound and deflected the ball back into the net. While for a moment it seemed like the Friars got the first lead of the game, the goal was soon waved off because a foul was called for the ball going off of Mendez’s foot. This would end up being the Friars best scoring opportunity, as the team manged only three shots on goal for the entire game.
After the teams went into halftime still tied 0-0, Connecticut struck with the first goal of the game on a rebound from Antonia Tiedtke. That goal was all the Huskies needed as they would tack another goal in the fourth and win 2-0.
Despite the early end to the season, it was another successful season for the Friars as they broke into the NFHCA rankings as the No. 25 team in the nation for three weeks before losing in the regular season finale. This was thanks to a tough schedule where PC played seven games against ranked opponents and played four teams that made it into the national tournament. One of the team’s biggest wins came early in the season when they upset no. 24 University of Maine 5-4 in overtime. That was the first time since August 25, 2017 that the team beat a ranked opponent.
The Friars were well represented in the end of season All-Big East Honors Teams. A total of four players from the team were selected, with two on the first team and two on the second team.
O’Reilly and Corinne Kenney ‘18GS represented the Friars on the All-Big East First Team. This is the third time Kenney has been selected to an All-Big East Team, and second time on the first team. She has been one of the Friars’ best defenders during her career and she has started in all 75 games since she came to PC.
O’Reilly has steadily improved every season since her freshman year and set career highs in several offensive categories including, points (16), and goals (five). She would also lead the team in assists with six. Last season she was selected for the All-Big East Second Team. In November she will head down to North Carolina to play in the NFHCA Division I Senior Game.
Mendez and Lydia Rice ‘19GS were selected for the All-Big East Second Team. Rice was one of the best goalies in all of the conference this season, posting a 1.26 goals against average, second best in the Big East, to go along with six shutouts. She was also named to the second team last year.
The team leader in points and goals, Mendez saved her best season for last, recording the team’s first 20 point season since 2016. Mendez’s nine goals were tied for fourth best in the conference. Her 21 career goals is the 26th highest all-time at PC. This is also her second time being selected to the second team.
Looking forward, PC hopes they can finally break into the Big East Finals. The team will return with Niamh Gowing ‘22, Olivia Ward ‘21, and Maddie Babineau ‘21, all of whom tallied eight or more points this season.