PCI: What was the Best PC Sports Moment of the Decade?
Men’s Hockey Wins National Championship
One of the best parts of sports are the iconic, unlikely, and exciting pieces of history they create. A lot of these great sports moments have blessed Providence College within the last decade alone. With a plethora of iconic memories to choose from, it is difficult to pick just one. However, for me, it has to be the 2015 Men’s Hockey National Championship.
Hockey has been a staple of this school and the New England area for a very long time. It was not until recently that the men’s hockey team became a competitive force to be reckoned with in the NCAA. Led by head coach Nate Leaman, at the time in his fifth year with the team, the 2015 Friars won 26 games. That was their best mark since the 1980’s. This, along with a second-place finish in the Hockey East conference set them up nicely for the tournament and a chance to reclaim glory for PC hockey.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. The Friars suffered a quarterfinal upset to the University of New Hampshire and crossed their fingers. Eventually, they did secure one of the last tournament spots and started their improbable run that included beating 4-seed Miami University, the University of Denver, and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The Friars faced off against the Boston University Terriers on April 11, 2015 at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. Slated to win, the Terriers went into the second half of the third period with a 3-2 lead against the Friars. However, in the final minutes of the game, PC scored two unanswered goals to not only win the game, but also to secure the program’s first ever NCAA win in hockey.
The team was packed with several great players who would eventually move on to the NHL. Players like Noel Acciari ’15, Brandon Tanec ’16, and Mark Jankowski ’16 were key players that pushed the Friars to the title. Acciari was tied for the team lead in goals while Jankowski was second on the team in assists.
The win managed to pull the Friars not just back to relevancy, but to the top of the nation as the team still remains one of the biggest powerhouses of hockey to this day. This championship was an incredible feat for the school as well as a turning point for the program as it allowed the team to consistently compete at this level in the years to come and set them up with great, national recognition.
– Joseph Quirk ’23
Kris Dunn Drafted in 2016 NBA Draft
One of the best Providence College sports moments of the decade occurred off the court: the 2016 NBA Draft. Indeed, this event was made so special because point guard and Friar Legend, Kris Dunn ’16, was drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Being selected to play professionally in the NBA is already an accomplishment in itself. However, being selected in the first round, and in the top five especially, is a shining moment in a decade of PC success.
Dunn was among All-NBA talent, like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and Jaylen Brown. This gives a better picture of just how special this moment was. Indeed, it cemented him as one of the top talents not only from the collegiate level, but also from around the world.
The talented Friar point guard did not get drafted as high as he did for just any reason. His college career featured a wealth of highlights and notable awards including being named a Second-Team All-American in 2016, receiving Big East Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and a two-time First-Team All-Big East in 2015 and 2016. Dunn was also a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and finally, was a Big East Tournament champion in 2014.
Even with all the statistics and accolades received throughout his tenure at PC, Dunn never let personal achievement get in the way of the success of the team. He was renowned for always putting in 110% in every game and against every team he faced. This is best shown in the win over a challenging University of Southern California team in the 2016 March Madness Tournament.
As brilliant as the 2016 draft was, Dunn struggled in his rookie season for the Timberwolves. Dunn, in 78 games played, averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 assists per game.
Currently, Dunn, in his fourth season in the NBA and third with the Chicago Bulls, is averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. He is in second place in the league for total steals, and has been hot on the tail of league-leader Ben Simmons for the entire season.
Truly, college basketball players work hard to achieve their dream of making it to the professionals, going out every night to play the game they love. This is why hearing one’s name called on the stage is such a special moment for not only the player, but also for the school they represent. It exemplifies the hard work put in to get to that point, and the support the school provided along the way.
Dunn was able to use the knowledge he had gained from PC to achieve the greatest accomplishment for a basketball player: getting drafted. His recent success on the biggest stage makes it one of the best moments of the decade for PC athletics.
– Sullivan Burgess ’20
Providence College Investigates
School Prepares Athletes off the Court
By Sullivan Burgess ’20
High school basketball players who are highly ranked and have the potential to become part of the NBA are given the choice to take their talents overseas to be paid to play, or to simply go to college. Ultimately, the best option for these players is to remain in the United States and go to college after their high school careers.
While for some players, the one-and-done option is appealing so they can simply go straight to the professional league, there are still plenty that consider the advantages of what a college experience can give to a player.
First and foremost is an education. A college program in the United States can give these athletes the proper tools they need to further their lives beyond the game of basketball. An education can provide the players with benfits far beyond those that any athlete can receive. These include the presence of professors at certain top tier schools, the ability to access the latest technology, and even the access to on-campus academic reasources.
Second, players can become associated with the booster clubs of the schools and develop connections where they meet agents and financial advisors who will help them have financial security during and after their careers.
When looking at some of the best players in the NBA, one notices the trend of All-Stars entering the league straight out of the NCAA, whereas some of the players who are coming from overseas often do not have the talent to stay on an NBA roster. These players include Brandon Jennings as well as Emmanuel Mudiay. On the other hand, players from college develop professional skills in the NCAA, which allows for a smooth transition into the NBA. Since much of the top-tier talent in college goes onto the NBA, college basketball is a much better indicator for who will succeed at the next level.
Last but certainly not least, nothing beats the school spirit the players embrace on campus, especially at schools such as Providence College, where everyone knows everyone, and students develop personal connections to the players. Players who choose to go overseas rather than to college miss out on the education and personal relationships NCAA players receive.
Former Friars: Where Are They Now?
Kris Dunn is Rising Up as Leader on the Bulls
By Scott Jarosz ’21
Now in his third year in the National Basketball Association, Kris Dunn ’16 has established himself as one of the youngest elite point guards in the NBA. Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016 as the fifth overall pick in the first round, Dunn’s talent was immediately recognized leaguewide. A point guard at 6’4”, 205 pounds, Dunn’s physical build attracted the attention of many NBA teams when combined with his more-than impressive skillset.
Dunn began his career in the NBA back in 2016 with the Timberwolves. It took him some time to fully transition from college basketball to the more fast-paced, skilled NBA. In his rookie season, Dunn averaged just over 17 minutes per game, 3.8 points per game, and 2.4 assists per game. Following the 2016-17 season, Dunn was traded to the Chicago Bulls alongside Zach LaVine in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to two other players. Dunn adjusted well to his new team and his presence had an immediate positive impact.
In his first year with the Chicago Bulls, in the 2017-18 season, Dunn began to look as dominant as he was throughout his career at Providence College. In his first season with the Bulls, Dunn averaged almost 30 minutes per game along with 13.4 points per game, six assists per game, and 4.3 rebounds per game. Perhaps his most notable performance of the season came on December 26, 2017 against the Milwaukee Bucks. In this game, Dunn netted 20 points alongside 12 assists, four steals, and two blocks. This outstanding performance placed Dunn in legendary company as he became the second Bulls player to ever record at least 20 points. The only other Bulls player that had ever done so was Michael Jordan.
Now in the 2018-19 season, Dunn is finally starting to establish himself as a rising star in the NBA. Despite the struggles that the Bulls have been experiencing as a team, Dunn has shown resilience to continue battling throughout the season. After being sidelined for a significant length of time early in the season with an MCL injury, Dunn has returned to being a consistent presence at point guard for the Bulls. He is now averaging 12.1 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and over 30 minutes played per game.
While his numbers as the team’s point guard are respectable, Dunn’s presence as a young leader is part of what makes him a special player.
Kris Dunn stated, “I’m trying to be a good leader for this team, I am trying to do what coach wants me to do. We are starting to push the pace, starting to figure that out and be aggressive on both ends of the floor.”
Despite only being in his third NBA season, Dunn has accepted his responsibility to be a leader as a point guard and run the team as effectively as possible. The Bulls are currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-39, but Dunn’s positive presence as a young star on this team provides hope for its future.
Friars in the Pros
As Providence College athletics are Divison I, the Friars have seen many of their athletes go on to play professionally in their respective sports. Three writers gave updates on Friars who play on professional soccer, hockey, and basketball teams.
By Jack Belanger ’21
With their recent success in the Big East, Providence has seen multiple Friars appear in the National Basketball Association and other professional basketball leagues.
Marshon Brooks ’11 played four seasons at PC from 2007-2011, averaging 24.6 points per game (ppg) his senior year. He was the 25th pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics but was immediately traded to the Brooklyn Nets. After a promising rookie year where he averaged 12.6 ppg and was named to the NBA all-rookie second team, Brooks saw his playing time decreased dramatically and struggled to find a consistent role in the NBA. After the 2013-2014 season he signed with Emporio Armani Milano, an Italian basketball team.
Ben Bentil ’18 played only two seasons for the Friars. Bentil broke out his sophomore year in 2015-2016, averaging 21.1 ppg and 7.7 rebounds per game. He was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics.
After playing in three preseason games, Boston waived Bentil and he spent most of the year in the NBA D-league, the NBA’s minor league. Bentil managed to make his NBA debut for the Dallas Mavericks on Mar. 1 and became the first person born in Ghana to play in the NBA. Bentil currently plays for the Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket in the Ligue de Nationale de Basket in France where he is averaging 12.4 ppg.
Kris Dunn ’16 is one of the best players to come out from Providence College in a long time. Dunn played four seasons for PC (2012-2016), averaging 12.8 ppg and 5.8 assists per game, and was named the Big East Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016. Dunn was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. After playing limited minutes during his rookie year, Dunn was traded to the Chicago Bulls, where he has broken out, averaging 10.6 ppg and has become the team’s starting point guard through 18 games.
By Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The Providence College Men’s Hockey Team has produced many professional athletes over the last several years. The Friars won the National Championship in 2015, and that roster contained four players that have already seen National Hockey League ice time.
Forwards Noel Acciari ’16, Mark Jankowski ’16, Brandon Tanev ’16 and goaltender Jon Gillies ’16 were part of the high-caliber roster.
Acciari had 32 points in 41 games during the Friar’s championship run, and on June 8, 2015, the undrafted forward signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. Acciari, a Johnston, Rhode Island native, has seven points in 57 games with Boston as of Nov. 26.
Jankowski played his senior year at PC, scoring 40 points in 38 games, an improvement from 27 in 37 during the championship season. Jankowski was drafted 21st overall by the Calgary Flames in 2012 and has three goals and an assist in 16 games.
Tanev was signed by the Winnipeg Jets in March 2016 and has eight points in 76 games with the team as of this past Sunday.
Gillies was drafted 75th overall by Calgary in 2012. He had a goals against average of 2.01 and save percentage of .930 in the Friars’ championship year.
Other notable alumni are current Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach ’01 and long time NHLer Hal Gill ’97. Both were defensemen; Leach played 70 career NHL games while Gill amassed an impressive 1,108.
Perhaps one of the best-known Friars is long time Men’s Hockey head coach and athletic director Lou Lamoriello ‘63. A native of Johnston, Rhode Island, Lamoriello had a lengthy career in Friar athletics before winning three Stanley Cups as the general manager of the New Jersey Devils from 1987-2015. He is currently general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
By Joe Myko ’19
The most recent Providence College alumnus to break into the world of professional soccer is Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel ’16 who was named Major League Soccer’s AT&T Rookie of the Year in November, after scoring an impressive five goals with nine assists in his debut season. The German-born midfielder is ranked third in the college’s all-time list of goal scorers, having netted 30 times for the Friars, and comes in at second for career assists with 26.
Ryan Maduro ’09 is another former Friar who has followed up his time at college with a successful career in soccer. The attacking midfielder scored 14 and assisted 22 goals during his time at Providence, before going on to sign with various clubs, including Iceland’s first division side Flykir and MLS’s New York Red Bulls, who he made his professional debut for in 2012.
Once former Friar Chaka Daley ’96 hung up his cleats in 1999, after having played for various professional sides including the MLS’s New England Revolution, he decided to return to PC to take up a coaching role enjoying a successful 11 years as manager from 2000-2011.
Midfielder Andrew Sousa ’10 was drafted by MLS’s side New England Revolution in 2011, before going on to enjoy an extensive career thus far, most notably at the likes of Portugal’s Operário (third division), Iceland’s Fylkir (first division), and Canada’s Ottawa Fury (who operate in the second division of the North American soccer leagues).
Chris Konopka ’06 has enjoyed a successful and wide-spread career since leaving Providence, having signed with various professional outfits including MLS’s Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC and Portland Timbers as well as the Scottish Premiership’s Ross County. Konopka played 21 times for Toronto FC between 2013-15, becoming an integral part of the club’s first playoff appearance in club history in 2015. The New Jersey native also holds records with Toronto FC for the most regular season game wins with 11, as well as the best single-season win percentage for any goalkeeper in the club’s history with 59.5 percent.