Providence College’s Pep Band Rallies Once Again
Providence College’s Pep Band Rallies Once Again
The Group’s Triumphant Return to Schneider Arena
Jack Downey ’23
The past weekend was an absolutely wild time at Providence College. From the festivities held for the class of 2020 to the arrival of many parents for the weekend, the last few days were vibrant and exciting. One major event that had many people in good spirits was the first men’s hockey game of the season. Facing off against Army in Schneider Arena, the line to get in stretched as far as the eye could see. Light up cups were handed out for a lightshow between periods. And, of course, the pep band returned.
This was particularly exciting because of the lack of action the pep band experienced last year. Thanks to the pandemic, there were few publicly attended sports games, meaning that the pep band did not get many chances to shine, only playing once or twice during the spring semester. However, with Schneider being open to spectators once again, the pep band took their spots in the stands as people began filing in.
Helmed by long-standing leader Jeff Hoyer and newly-minted student conductor Joe Genest ’22, the band played a few tunes as people took their seats, and a sense of anticipation grew. After a while, the pregame practice concluded. The pep band proceeded to blast a lively take of the classic “When The Saints Go Marching In.” No other tune could have felt like such a fitting beginning to the hockey season. The atmosphere in the arena was full of joy.
Soon the game started and within a minute the Friars scored, taking an early lead. In response, the pep band played some upbeat anthems, such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” Genest dutifully conducted the band, occasionally also playing guitar. Hoyer also played along with the band, alternating between trombone and keys. Throughout the rest of the game, the band continued to provide an excellent backing track to the proceedings as the men’s hockey team won, destroying Army 7-0.
While this game was certainly a memorable one for PC’s men’s ice hockey team, it perhaps had even more significance for many of the musicians in the pep band. Current sophomores were able to truly experience the electric atmosphere that permeates Schneider Arena, something that they had missed last year. Learning so many songs only to not showcase them to anyone was undoubtedly a frustrating experience, so it must have been exhilarating to finally get the chance to play them at last weekend’s game. This game also reminded people why the pep band is such an important part of PC’s campus. Without them, so much of the excitement that comes with attending PC athletic contests would be lost.
There are many more games to come this season, and it will be great to hear the sounds of the pep band at them. Perhaps even more exciting is the prospect of returning to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for basketball games, especially for the younger members of the pep band who have not experienced this yet.
Four Big East Teams Battle for NCAA Glory
Big Teams Hope to Correct the Course After Big East Tournament
By Luke Sweeney ’24
The 2020-2021 NCAA basketball season has been one to remember, for all the wrong reasons. Having to adapt to the many new rules and regulations in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams of every conference had a lot more to deal with than the regular stresses of an NCAA season.
Coach Ed Cooley and the Providence College Friars had a less than satisfying end to the regular season after finishing 13-13 and failing to make the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Getting a favorable matchup in the first round of the Big East tournament looked like a blessing for the Friars, but they were unable to capitalize as they lost to a 5-14 DePaul University Demons. In extremely rare form, coach Cooley stormed off the floor without addressing either team after this embarrassing loss, officially ending the Friars’ season.
With the 2021 March Madness Selection Sunday happening this past week, the NCAA granted four teams from the Big East a spot in the big dance. Villanova University finished the Big East tournament with a 16-6 record on the year after a loss on March 11 to a storied Georgetown University Hoyas, coached by the legendary New York Knick, Patrick Ewing. Villanova has played the month of March so far without their star point guard, Collin Gillespie, who had a season-ending knee injury.
The Wildcats have looked to other leaders on the team to carry Gillespie’s load, such as senior Jermaine Samuels Jr., who the team will continue to give bigger roles during the NCAA tournament. Villanova received a No. 5 seed and looks forward to playing the No. 12 seed Winthrop University Eagles in the first round on March 19.
Creighton University represents the Big East in the western side of the bracket at the No. 5 seed and is lined up to face off against University of California, Santa Barbara on March 20. Many are deeming this a trap game for the favored Bluejays as UCSB is hot off a Big West championship win over University of California, Irvine last Saturday. Santa Barbara finished the regular season 22-4 and were led by 6-foot-4-inch senior guard JaQuori McLaughlin, who put up 22 points against Irvine.
This could be a potential upset due to Creighton coming off a devastating loss to Georgetown in the Big East championship last weekend. Hopefully their lack of momentum will not lead to the loss of their season in the first round of the tournament.
The biggest story coming out of the Big East this week is Georgetown, who defied the odds by beating a favored 20-8 Creighton team at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas had a less than perfect season before the Big East tournament, finishing 12-12 and landing at the bottom half of the Big East rankings. Their miraculous run at MSG was headed by Coach Patrick Ewing. The No. 12 seed Hoyas will have a tough road ahead of them in the tournament, starting with No. 5 seed Colorado University on March 20.
The fourth team invited to the NCAA tournament from the Big East this year is the University of Connecticut, headed by sophomore James Bouknight who had been injured for almost half of the regular season. With Bouknight looking healthy heading into the first round of the tournament, the Huskies hope to dominate the University of Maryland in all aspects of the game on March 20.
Each team’s guards match up well against each other, so we should be expecting a deep-ranged shootout to decide the winner.
While it was not the dominating Big East that we are used to seeing this year, Villanova, Creighton, UConn, and Georgetown hope to make their mark on the 2020-2021 NCAA basketball season by advancing into the later rounds of the big dance. Both at the No. 5 seed, Villanova and Creighton are two teams to watch out for.
Editor’s Corner: New NCAA Rule Can Be Harmful to Student-Athletes
by Meaghan Cahill ’20
The issue as to whether or not college athletes should get paid has been a heavily debated topic in both the sports and academic worlds. On Oct. 29, the NCAA started the process that will answer the question once and for all.
The NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit the 460,000 students participating in collegiate athletics the opportunity “to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
This decision comes just weeks after the NCAA called California’s Senate Bill 206 “Fair Pay for Play Act”—which calls for student-athlete compensation and representation from both state and private universities—“unconstitutional” and an “existential threat.”
On the initial motions to put this new rule into effect on college campuses across the country, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “The board’s action…creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”
Adamant that the student-athletes are not to become employees of the schools at which they play, the NCAA’s new rule only allows student-athletes to enter into contracts for merchandise and endorsements; they are in no way allowed to be paid for their athletic performance in efforts to keep up with the amateur aspect of college athletics.
However, it can be argued that despite the attempts made by the NCAA, all amateur aspects of play have been wiped off of the table with an alarming force, and, while the intent is to enhance the student-athlete experience, the new law will become nothing more than a hinderance on their collegiate career.
To expand upon Emmert’s words, student-athletes will be competing against professionals. Typically, the athletes that big-name companies look to endorse and create merchandised gear for are the ones who they believe have the best shot at a professional career. No longer will athletes be looked at as amateurs, but, rather, the ones who are able to attract deals off of their name, image, and likeness will be singled out more so than they most likely would have been prior to an endorsement deal.
Due to this professional mentality that will naturally arise, the experience of the student-athlete is put at risk because the pressure on them to perform well will only be intensified. While they may not be making deals based on their actual play, it is their playing skills that will get them recognized by any type of company. There is a great risk for high levels of stress amongst student-athletes because now, not only will they have to perform well for the team to win, but they will have the added pressure of performing exceptionally well each game so that they do not lose whatever endorsement deals they may have struck.
While much of the law still has to take a clear, definitive shape, there are already too many issues that can (and will) arise with its implementation. Instead of conforming to California’s Senate Bill, the NCAA should maintain their initial response and look to protect all of their student-athletes from the dangers that this new law can impose on them.
The Cowl’s Second Annual March Madness Bracket
The Cowl’s Sport Staff Has The Tar Heels Upsetting Rival Duke
by Jack Belanger ’21
Members of the sports staff came together to create The Cowl’s Second Annual March Madness Bracket. Thanks to Cam Smith ’21, who gave his analysis for the South Region, Scott Jarosz ’21 for the East Region, and Sullivan Burgess ’20 for the West Region, and to everyone for helping make the picks. I took on analyzing the Midwest Region, Semifinals, and Finals.
The South Region features the University of Virginia as the top dog, and the Cavaliers will be looking for revenge following last year’s disastrous first round loss to the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Also in the South is the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University, two veteran squads poised to make deep runs. The Boilermakers will in fact ride star shooting guard Carsen Edwards all the way to the Final Four, as they will knock off top-seeded Virginia in the Elite Eight. This minor upset may very well be overshadowed by the two major ones set to take place in the first round. The University of California Irvine, coming into the tournament scorching hot and on a 16-game win streak, will take down Kansas State University, a team that will likely be without All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade. Not to be outdone, the Colgate University Raiders out of the Patriot League will stun the University of Tennessee, an upset that is sure to bust brackets across the country.
The East Region features some very intriguing matchups, as well as numerous potential upsets. One such matchup that could be interesting is the University of Maryland versus Belmont University. Coming off an 80-71 win over Temple in its First Four game, Belmont is a team that should not be taken lightly. The Bruins boast a record of 27-5 and could very well upset Maryland in the first round. Another East Region matchup worth watching is LSU vs. Yale. Yale has played well as the underdog in the past, beating #5 seed Baylor in a first-round game back in 2016. If Yale can upset LSU, it can very well take down Belmont and advance to the Sweet 16. Although Yale could make a run in the East, it is hard to see them upsetting Michigan State. For the matchup in the East Region Final, we have Michigan State and Duke. Given that Zion Williamson is back and fully healthy, it is hard to see Duke being stopped by anyone in the East.
In the West Region of the March Madness Bracket, Buffalo University, the sixth seed, will find their way into the final four facing against the #1 Duke University. Buffalo finished first in the MAC East at an overall record of 31-3 and are highly favored this year to even win it all. Syracuse University will also find a spark that usually occurs when they enter the March Madness tournament and will make a run until they face Buffalo in the Elite Eight. One highly anticipated matchup is Marquette University and Murray State; while Murray State may have the best player in college basketball, Marquette has the better team that will defeat Murray State, but will lose to the ACC Championship runner-up Florida State University. Lastly, Michigan University, who has been hot all season, will come to face Buffalo in the Sweet 16, yet Buffalo will find themselves favored to make their way to the Final Four.
With the likes of the Universities of North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky, the Midwest Region is full of blue-blood programs that know how to make deep runs into the Final Four. Out of the three programs, the Tar Heels have the easiest road to the Final Four and are one of the most balanced teams in the country. After winning their first game, Kentucky is going to fall to a red-hot Seton Hall University team, who took Villanova to the final seconds of the Big East Finals and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer. A potential first-round upset to look out for is Ohio State University over Iowa State University. The Buckeyes played in a much tougher conference this year, while Iowa States’s defense has been questionable. Also, first-year head coach Chris Holtmann had plenty of experience in the tournament when he coached for Xavier University.
Syracuse will force the Blue Devils to shoot the three, which will keep the game close early, but Duke has simply too many weapons to be stopped in the second half. Once Duke begins to build a lead, Syracuse is going to have a tough time keeping up to make shots.
The other Semifinal game will feature a back and forth game between two teams who can score in a variety of ways. While Edwards will do everything he can to keep Purdue in the game, the Tar Heels will dominate inside the paint which will prove to be the difference, sending UNC to the finals.
Duke may be the favorite to win it all, but UNC has been their kryptonite this season. The Tar Heels have beaten the Blue Devils twice during the regular season and played tough in the ACC finals. The Tar Heels have enough size inside to match up with Williamson and slow down Barrett and Reddish on the outside. Do not be surprised when you see UNC win their second title in three years.
PCI: Who Will Win the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player?
Kyle Guy of Virginia Will Take the Award
by Scott Jarosz ’21
One obvious frontrunner to win this year’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player, is certainly Duke University’s Zion Williamson. The 6’7”, 285-pound player attracted the eyes of basketball fans nationwide when videos of his athletic dunks in high school games went viral. In his first season at Duke, Williamson has averaged 22.1 points per game along with 8.9 rebounds per game.
While Williamson has excelled in his first season of collegiate basketball, he has shown some signs of immaturity as well as inconsistency. The same goes for the rather young Duke basketball team as a whole.
However, one experienced player who has been a consistent leader for his team is University of Virginia’s Kyle Guy, a veteran guard who has been truly playing up to his full potential this year. With his experience and excellent ability to score points, Guy will ultimately be named the 2019 Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
In the 2018-19 season, Guy has averaged 15.6 points per game, which is the highest on his team. While this figure may not be as impressive as Williamson’s 22.1 points per game, Guy’s presence has arguably had a larger impact on his team’s overall success. Virginia sits atop the leaderboard of the Atlantic Coast Conference with a record of 29-3 overall and 16-2 in conference. Behind Virginia on the leaderboard is the University of North Carolina and Duke. Virginia is currently ranked as the #2 team in the country, and despite a 59-69 loss to Florida State University in the ACC Tournament, they have shown no signs of slowing down heading into the NCAA Tournament. Virginia has been selected as the #1 seed in the South Region for the NCAA Tournament, and they are scheduled to play 16-seed Gardner-Webb on March 22 in Columbia, South Carolina. The question remains, what is guard Kyle Guy capable of doing that could not only lead his team to an NCAA Tournament victory, but will earn him the title of the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player?
Who Should Win the Naismith College Player of the Year?
Ja Morant will Win the Naismith Award
by Thomas Zinzarella ’21
Winning a national championship is always a top achievement for a college basketball player. But being named the best player in the country? That accolade may be even more special. The reigning award-winner is Jalen Brunson from Villanova University who was able to achieve both.
Every year it is a challenge to predict who will be the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year because there are so many intriguing candidates. On this year’s list, players such as Zion Williamson, Grant Williams, Markus Howard, and Rui Hachimura are all vying to be the best player in all of college basketball.
A player who may not be known to many casual college basketball fans but is well-known to hardcore fans is a 6’3” sophomore guard from Dalzell, South Carolina. Ja Morant plays for the Murray State University Racers, a team in the Ohio Valley Conference that has strong history of being one of the best mid-major teams in the country.
Murray State has had its success with strong guard play with Cameron Payne and Isaiah Canaan being the most recent NBA draftees. This season, Morant is averaging 24.1 points per game, 10.3 assists per game, and 5.6 rebounds ber game. Morant was not unknown coming into this year. CBS Sports writer Matt Norlander had Morant in his pre-season top 101 college basketball players.
His number really started to buzz when he dropped 25 points and 7 assists against a ranked Auburn University Tigers squad. Morant also put on a show against University of Alabama, where he scored 38 points on 16-29 shooting and tallied nine rebounds and five assists. Morant’s legacy really started to come full circle when he made a Vince Carter-esque dunk earlier in the year on a defender that surfaced on social media.
And yet, many college basketball fans are wondering why such a talented sophomore guard chose Murray State. In fact, his recruiting story is an interesting one. As a high school sophomore, Morant was playing with freshman Zion Williamson on a local South Carolina AAU team. Williamson’s fame took off when he went to the more prestigious Adidas circuit and Morant would stay with his local AAU team. Murray State “accidentally” fell upon Morant when they were recruiting another player. Before Murray State finally offered a scholarship, the only other schools involved in his recruiting were South Carolina State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Duquesne University. After Murray State offered him, more schools began to take a look at Morant. Soon in-state rivals Clemson University and University of South Carolina began recruiting him. In the end, a total of 13 schools were actively recruiting Morant, and for good reason.
Murray State head coach Matt McMahon raves about his athleticism and explosiveness but also praised his basketball IQ. Morant leads the country with 10.3 assist per game. Morant has rocketed up NBA mock drafts where many have him as a lottery draft pick, even just behind his former AAU teammate.
Who Should Win the Naismith College Player of the Year?
Zion Williamson will Win Naismith Award
by Sullivan Burgess ’20
This year’s Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year will go to none other than Duke University freshman Zion Williamson. If you are unfamiliar with Williamson, then prepare for what the sports media calls the next LeBron James, a title he has held since his junior year of high school.
Williamson, from Salisbury, North Carolina, is 6’6” and 285 lbs, making him one of the biggest college basketball players in history, even out-weighting a current batch of NBA players.
The freshman came into Duke as number two in the ESPN Top 100 players, right behind his current teammate, R.J. Barrett. He has never looked back and has proven his status as a legendary force to be reckoned with when being guarded.
Not only is the freshman forward currently averaging 22.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, but he has also brought the team to the number two spot in the entire country of division one basketball. However, the team has constantly been battling back and forth between the second and first spot throughout the season.
Williamson leads the country in player efficiency with 42.5 which is 5.6 higher than the next highest player. This high number reflects Williamson being able to find success in multiple facets of the game.
Williamson saw success early this season by earning the ACC Player of the week honors in his first week. Williamson helped the team to be unstoppable, raising the question of whether he and the entire Duke team were able to beat a current roster in the NBA. However, these conversations were put to rest when the team lost the Maui Invitational Tournament to Gonzaga University.
Last month, Williamson set the single-game freshman scoring record with 35 points, surpassing former Duke players Marvin Bagley III and J.J. Redick. He also received his third ACC Freshman of the Week award for the season.
In his first two games of February, Williamson recorded 29 points against St. John’s University, and 16 points and 17 rebounds against Boston College.
From the start of the season, Williamson has been a high contender for the first overall pick of the NBA Draft. Some professionals and members of the sport media even think Williamson should sit out the rest of the season and focus on the draft. However, Williamson wants to focus on his only goal right now, winning the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and being a championship caliber player to whichever team drafts in the 2019 NBA Draft.
College Football Season Heats Up
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
It is officially a month into football season, and teams are settling in for what should be another exciting year on the gridiron. The University of Alabama once again finds themselves at the top of the polls and has set out to defend their National Title after their heroic comeback last year against the University of Georgia in the Championship game.
Alabama and Georgia are both favorites to get back to the college football playoffs but, there are a few new faces that fans should look out for. A team that is red hot to start and has worked themselves to College Football Playoff contention is the #5 Louisiana State University Tigers. They knocked off #8 University of Miami (FL) at a neutral site and have beat #7 Auburn University on the road, two solid wins for Coach Ed Orgeron’s squad. Additionally, #1 Alabama, #2 Georgia, and #18 Mississippi State will head to Death Valley to face the Tigers.
In the New England area, Boston College jumped into the AP rankings for the first time since 2008 as the 23rd best team in the country. Boston College has seen exceptional play from their offense, speared by Heisman trophy hopeful, running back AJ Dillon and quarterback Anthony Brown. Dillon has shown flashes of former Eagles tailback Andre Williams who finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2013. BC has always played well on the defensive side of the ball under their head coach Steve Addazio. Unfortunately, this past Saturday, the Eagles fame in the AP polls did not last long, as they fell to the Purdue University Boilermakers on the road with a final score of 30-13.
Boston College will have more opportunities to climb back into the rankings as they host #16 Miami Hurricanes and #3 Clemson Tigers. The Eagles will also head down to Blacksburg, Virginia to play Virginia Tech. BC will have to capitalize on these games in order to make a return to the Top 25.
Another team making some noise is the University of Rhode Island Rams. Yes, they may be a rival school of Providence College in basketball, but URI seems to be finding winning ways on the football field. Despite the face that in the past four seasons the Rams are just 7-38, finishing 11th of 12 teams in the Colonial Athletic Conference, URI started off this season defeating University of Delaware 21-19 on the road and then trouncing University of Albany 45-26. URI then took on their only football bowl subdivision opponent and one of their old rivals: the University of Connecticut Huskies. It was a high-scoring game where URI fell by just one touchdown, 56-49. Because of their success this year, the Rams have cracked into the Top 25 of the Football Championship Subdivision rankings at 23.
Favorites for Heisman:
The race for the Heisman trophy should be as exciting as it has been in the last couple of years. There was not a clear-cut favorite coming into the season ,as there are several players with the opportunity to win the award.
A few players to keep an eye on this year are QBs Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), and Will Grier (West Virginia). Each of these QBs has had a unique journey in their rise to fame. Tagovailoa was thrusted into the championship game in the second half and led a heroic comeback to secure the win for the Crimson Tide last year. Kyler Murray, who was the 9th overall pick in this past June’s MLB Draft, will head to spring training in March for the Oakland A’s after this football season has concluded. Grier started his career at the University of Florida, where he started six games before he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. He then transferred to West Virginia University.
This past weekend each player solidified themselves on why they should win. Tagovailoa threw for 387 yards and 4 TDs in a 45-23 win against #22 Texas A&M. Grier threw for 356 yards and 5 TDs and 2 INT in the 35-6 win against Kansas State.