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.
Behind Enemy Lines
A Student-Broadcaster’s Experience On The Road To ‘Nova
by Thomas Zinzarella ’21
At 5:00 p.m. on a Friday in February, most college kids would be hanging out with their roommates or getting some cardio in before dinner. That was not the case, however, for Matt St. Jean ’20 and I on Feb. 28, as we walked into the Providence Amtrak Train Station.
The train we hopped on was headed to Philadelphia, a train ride that takes approximately five and a half hours. Both of us were preparing to broadcast the highly anticipated matchup between the Providence College Friars and the no. 12 Villanova University Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Many of my peers see me broadcasting games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center or at Schneider Arena. Many also know it is my passion and future aspiration to pursue broadcasting. But, what many do not know is what goes on behind the scenes when producing a broadcast. I get that question once in a while, and my trip to Philadelphia is a perfect chance to show how I prepare for broadcasting a game on the radio.
For this past game against Villanova, well before we arrived at the train station, we created cheat sheets for the game called “spotting boards” or “spotting charts,” a common practice in the art of broadcasting. Many professionals either make them online or by hand. They can include whatever you want to put on them that you think will be helpful during the broadcast. This includes the basics like names, hometown, heights, and weights of players. It could also include Big East standings, a team foul tracker, and other miscellaneous stats that can help tell a story about a team’s season or a team’s past few games.
After playing around with these charts for a few hours during the week, doing our research and crunching numbers, it is time to learn about the other team. Big East games are a lot easier because if you are a college basketball fan like myself, you are always engrossing yourself in a team’s reading material, or have watched them on television at least once that year. The more you familiarize yourself with the team, the better you can inform the listener so they can learn something from the broadcast.
Following our arrival in Philadelphia around 11:30 p.m., we both headed towards our hotel, which was less than a quarter mile from the Wells Fargo Center. As we passed by in our Uber, the big red letters that bore the arena’s name illuminated the night sky. We continued on to pass by the empty lots slowly, knowing full well that tomorrow they would be packed with Villanova fans.
After a good night’s sleep, we walked over to the arena about two and a half hours before tip-off to collect our media credentials. From there, we explored the arena, looking to find our media seats. Soon, there was a palpable buzz that filled the arena, due in part to the large stakes involved for both parties. At the start of the day on Saturday, Villanova had won five straight games and was trying to climb for a higher seed come Selection Sunday. The Friars on the other hand, were trying to make sure they would get their name heard on Selection Sunday. They began the day in many analysts’ “Last 4 In” the NCAA tournament. The Friars had collected seven quadrant one wins good enough for one of the highest marks in the country, but a win against Villanova would more than likely keep a spot waiting for them in the NCAA tournament.
We both found our media spots and arranged all of the broadcast equipment that we lugged into the arena. Next, we headed down to the media room to grab a quick bite to eat before heading back out to floor level to catch shootaround. The biggest storyline in the pre-game warmups was whether Villanova starting point guard Colin Gillespie would play or not. The night before, head coach Jay Wright had said he was “questionable” to play because of a deep thigh bruise.
Perhaps the coolest part about getting to an arena extra early is all of the access you get. You are in the building before every fan and before even some of the workers. Therefore, I was able to see that Gillespie was indeed warming up. He would go on to log 37 minutes in the game.
Before we got nestled in for the game, we videoed our pre-game show, which goes onto our social media page and showcases some of the key facts and figures to watch in the game to our fans and followers.
As the fans started to file into their seats, we headed to ours. Our broadcast position for that day’s game was right behind the hoop, about four rows up. On some plays you could maybe catch a glimpse of us on television. Sometimes, I will receive the occasional text from aunts, uncles, or grandparents who are watching the Friars on TV who have spotted us.
With the pre-game clock winding down we hopped back on air before the starting lineups and the national anthem. “Welcome back inside the Wells Fargo Center as the Providence College Friars search to win their fifth straight game against a ranked opponent…” All is well once again. Just basketball and two passionate Friar basketball fans doing what they love.
A Decade of PC Athletics
A Look Back at a Monumental Ten Years
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
This decade has shown one of the largest growths among every sport at Providence College. There are so many moments to choose from but here are some of the greatest from this past decade:
Men’s Basketball Capture 2014 Big East Championship
Ed Cooley and the Friars playing in Madison Square Garden are something Friars fans have begun to enjoy throughout this decade, and it all began back in 2014. This was the first year of the newly aligned 10-team Big East conference and the Friars only championship was back in 1994. The Friars were an NCAA Tournament bubble team coming into the tournament making it vital for them to win. Some had the Friars succeeding and others had them as the first four teams out. Well, the Friars burst a couple of bubbles and downed the Creighton University Blue Jays to punch their ticket. This Creighton team held one of the greatest college basketball players ever to roam the floor, Doug McDermott. The Friars were led by Bryce Cotton ’14 and LaDontae Henton ’15 with a number of other upperclassmen who started the rise of Friar basketball. This would be their first of five straight NCAA tournament appearances and set the standard of what PC basketball is today.
Friars Knock off No. 3 Villanova
Valentine’s Day 2018: The Friars needed a win to bolster their NCAA tournament resume, having already defeated the No. 5/4 Xavier University Musketeers about a month prior in Providence. The holiday featured a Big East match-up against rival Villanova University. The team PC faced is considered by many college basketball critics to be the best team of the decade, as they would go on to win the NCAA Tournament. It was a fast-paced, nail biter of a game as the Wildcats and Friars remained within single digit points of each other over the course of the two halves. Ultimately, the Friars pulled ahead at the end and beat Villanova 76-71 in a game that Cooley cites as “the greatest win” that he has had with the College. Scenes of students storming the court in a matter of seconds have stuck with many Friar basketball fans ever since. The win was a pivotal moment for the team that year as it gave them the momentum they needed to make a push in the Big East Tournament which secured them a spot in the Championship game.
2014 Men’s Soccer College Cup
Just like the men’s basketball team, 2014 brought great success for the men’s soccer team. The Friars advanced to the NCAA tournament as the 11th overall team. The Friars earned themselves a first round bye and picked up victories over Dartmouth University, the University of California-Irvine and the No. 3 team Michigan State University en route to their first ever College Cup appearance. The Friars faced a tough task with in the No. 2 University of California-Los Angeles Bruins and fell 3-2 in double-overtime. Under the direction of Craig Stewart, the Friars have made six NCAA tournament appearances with a follow-up Sweet 16 appearance in 2016 under future MLS star Julian Gressel ’16.
Women’s Cross Country National Championship
Any time there is a national championship mentioned, it more than likely will be involved as one of the greatest moments. The 2013 National Championship Women’s Cross Country Team is no exception. The Friars were runners up the year prior and would not be deterred the following year. The Friars were led by Emily Sisson ’14 who finished seventh overall. Sisson is now currently competing for a spot on the U.S. National team for this upcoming Olympics and is well known in women’s running. It was the Friars first championship since 1995. Under head coach Ray Treacy ’82, the team has won two national championships and has transformed into one of the best programs in the country.
Men’s Hockey Team Wins 2015 National Championship
Friars head coach Nate Leaman has elevated this program to national prominence once again and brought the Friars back into the spotlight by advancing to the 2015 Frozen Four. The Friars were one of the final teams to make the tournament and used this motivation to their advantage. After the Friars got past the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the Friars faced off against the Boston University Terriers in the NCAA National Championship game at the TD Garden in Boston. The Friars were searching for their first National Championship in program history and, after falling behind 3-2 after two periods of play, needed some magic to secure the win. In what is considered one of the craziest finishes to an NCAA Championship hockey game, the Friars were able to come out on top in last ten minutes of the third period after finding themselves in a tied game when BU accidentally scored on their own net. It was Brandon Tanev ’15 who flicked in the game-winner wrist shot with just over six minutes left of play that secured the program’s first ever NCAA championship. Tanev would go on to become one of seven Friars to play in the NHL from the team.
Women’s Basketball Team Advances it to the 16th Round of the 2018 Women’s Basketball National Invitation Tournament
Women’s basketball had lost its way for a bit after their great success in the 1980s and early 90s at PC. Jim Crowley in his third year at the helm took tremendous strides for the Friars. The Friars made postseason play for the first time since 2010 and just the second time since the Friars advanced to the 1991-92 NCAA tournament. The Friars defeated University of Hartford and University of Pennsylvania to advance to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT and were set to face their fellow Big East foe, the Georgetown University Hoyas. The Friars ultimately fell to them, but this was a special collection of players young and old. Friar fans saw one of the greatest scorers in program history, Jojo Nogic ’19, and featured the Big East Freshman of the Year, Mary Baskerville ’22. Nogic finished as the 4th all time leading scorer in program history and Baskerville also set the program record for blocks for a freshman and the most by a Friar since the 1999-2000 season. The Friars also won eight games in conference play, the most since the 1996-1997 season. These are just a few of many accomplishments for this women’s basketball program as they look to continue their rise in the rigorous Big East conference.
Villanova Takes the Title
By Max Anderson ’18
After one of the craziest seasons in recent history for men’s college basketball, it only made sense that the postseason tournament matched the insanity.
The madness kicked off right out of the gate. In the opening two days, title hopefuls Arizona University and Wichita State University were both sent packing. In perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, the University of Maryland Baltimore County Golden Retrievers sent the number one overall seed University of Virginia home early with a final score of 74-54, marking the first time ever a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. In the following two days, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina, Michigan State University, University of Cincinnati, and another No. 1 seed, Xavier University, would bid farewell also. With the losses of North Carolina, Xavier and Cincinnati, the left side of the bracket was without not only the two No. 1 seeds, but also the two No. 2 seeds, marking it the first time ever in NCAA history that this has happened.
While the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight did not have the same madness the opening rounds contained, it did have one massive Cinderella story that captivated the nation in No. 11 seed Loyola University of Chicago. The team, led by their 98-year-old unoffical mascot Sister Jean, won game after game, despite being labeled as the underdog in every matchup. They were able to best Miami and Tennessee in the opening rounds, followed by Nevada and Kansas St. in the later rounds to advance to the Final Four, just the fifth time a double-digit seed has advanced that far. The magic ultimately ran out when the Ramblers ran into John Beilein’s University of Michigan Wolverines, losing by a final tally of 57-69. Despite the Ramblers’ failure to pull it off, they still showed that in March, double-digit seeds can make just as much noise as single-digit seeds.
On the right side of the bracket, order was mostly maintained, with No. 1 seeds Villanova University and University of Kansas advancing to the Final Four. Villanova, on the back of National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson, easily handled Kansas, advancing to their second National Championship game in three years, where they would square off with the Wolverines. In the National Championship game, Michigan contested with the Wildcats early; however, Beilein’s squad had no answer for Donte Divicenzo, who scored a game-high 31 points. Divicenzo’s hot hand, along with Brunson’s leadership, vaulted Villanova to a 79-62 victory, giving the Wildcats their second NCAA title in a three-year span.
As a fan of college basketball, I congratulate Villanova on their NCAA Championship victory; as a Friar, I say great, but look for the Providence Friars to make another strong run for the Big East Championship in 2019.
Men’s Basketball Fights Hard in Big East Championship
PC Falls to ‘Nova in the Big East Final
by Sullivan Burgess ’20
It is only two weeks into March and needless to say it has been a crazy few weeks for the Providence College Friars Men’s Basketball Team and for Friar fanatics.
The month began for the Friars with a trip to the Big Apple for the Big East Tournament held annually in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.
The Friars began the tournament as a fifth seed in the Big East standings, playing against the third seed Creighton University Bluejays. This season the Friars went 1-1 with Creighton, so expectations were high coming into the game.
The game came down to the wire and ultimately had to be decided in overtime after battling back and forth over each half. The victory was handed to the Friars as they took over in the last few minutes to secure the win 72-68.
Small forward Alpha Diallo ’20 led the game in scoring for the Friars with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Point guard Kyron Cartwright ’18 after the game said he was excited about the atmosphere of the Garden and stated to the press, “It’s like, feels like our second home sometimes. We got a lot of great alumni who come out, a lot of great fans, a lot of students here from the New York area. They always come out. They support us. They’re really loud out there and we feed off their energy.”
The Friars played the next day in the semi-final against the one seed Xavier University, who came off of a strong victory against St. John’s University.
Again the game went back and forth throughout each half and overall had to be decided again in overtime. In overtime, the Friars played with confidence and strength and defeated Xavier 75-72 to secure a spot in the championship game.
Cartwright and Rodney Bullock ’18 came in clutch as they made many great plays to win the game, including 15 and 17 points, respectively.
The time had then come to show the world what the Friars are really made of as they entered the championship game against conference rivals, the two seed Villanova University Wildcats. To match the common theme throughout the tournament for the Friars, the game had gone to overtime, after the Friars came back in the second half.
Unfortunately, overtime went to the Wildcats as they out-scored the Friars 16-6 in overtime resulting in a final score of 76-66. In the end, Cartwright and Diallo were named to the All-Tournament Team in the guard and guard/forward position.
Despite the loss, Coach Ed Cooley stated to the press after the game “I thought we played great. I thought we played tough. I thought we played together.” These strong words were enough to boost the spirits of the fans and students.
The next day after the championship was more nerve-wracking than the championship, as it was Selection Sunday for the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
While fans were tense throughout the day, they were anxious to see the placement of the Friars in the tournament. The performance of the Friars in the Big East Tournament was definitely able to push the team from on the bubble to either a seventh, eighth, nineth, or tenth seed.
The team was ultimately placed in the west region at a 10 seed, playing against seven seed Texas A&M. Providence was one of the six teams from the Big East that made the March Madness Tournament, along with Villanova and Xavier at one seeds, Creighton and Seton Hall University at eight, and Butler University at No. 10. Overall the Friars are ready to go dancing this March.
Friars’ Win Creates Big Upset
by Sullivan Burgess ’20
As the end of the season swiftly approaches, the Providence College Friars dominate the Big East Conference play, with a major win against the # 3 overall Villanova, with a final score of 76-71.
After suffering a heavy loss to DePaul last Saturday, 80-63, the Friars bounced back and came back better than ever beating Nova and securing a 8-5 record in the 2017-2018 Big East Standings behind Xavier, Villanova, and Creighton, and a 17-9 overall record in the NCAA.
While the season has been back and forth with significant wins and tough losses, the Friars hope to provide the burning energy and spirit needed as they head towards the Big East Tournament and hopefully an appearance in the March Madness Tournament. Some of these notable wins come from Big East play, including ranked rivals such as #5 Xavier, Creighton, Marquette, DePaul, and Butler when the team was on a four-game winning streak.
However, things took a turn for the worse when the team’s streak was snapped by back to back losses to Villanova and Seton Hall. The team found themselves back on pace with back to back wins against Marquette and Georgetown, but DePaul, as mentioned previously, came out swinging to hand the team their fifth loss. All hope was not lost as the Friars brought the win to Villanova and look to carry the momentum of this win into the end of the regular season.
In a game filled with jaw-dropping dunks, plays, and a court storming by the entire student section, the team now has something to celebrate. The Friars defense was able to stop Nova from shooting threes and allowed 19 turnovers that turned into some scoring opportunities. The offense was excellent as five Friars had double digits in scoring, including a leading 17 points from Kyron Cartwright ’18.
Head Coach Ed Cooley stated to the press after the game, “Honestly, the greatest win I’ve ever had at Providence College.”
The team will look to continue this spark for the last few games, including the last home game of the season against St. John’s. Despite a few losses on the way, the players have played consistently good basketball throughout Big East games. Rodney Bullock ’18 has been leading the team in both minutes and points this season with 31.9 minutes per game and 14.6 points per game, as he continues to find a rhythm both on and off the court.
Cartwright has also been leading in assists with six per game, noticeably becoming the difference maker on the team. With games coming down to the wire, Cartwright has been putting the team on his back to provide the leadership needed for this squad.
The Friars must face each team this year without forward Emmitt Holt ’18, who is redshirting this year due to injury. However, Holt has been back on campus this semester and has been practicing with the team. This not only provides an on-campus energy used on game day, it creates the opportunity for Holt to teach the younger players and allow them to be stronger in the paint from experience.
These younger players include Alpha Diallo ’20, Kalif Young ’20, and Nate Watson ’21, all of whom have improved their game, including great offense and stellar defense against the Big East’s best players. With minimal games remaining in the regular season, it is now or never for the Friars.
Soon they will be sent off to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament, hopefully taking down Villanova and becoming the champions again, which will hopefully make things easier after their upset. For now, Friar fans must wait and enjoy the last few games of the season while continuing to bring the constant energy to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and help the team motivate each other to secure a spot in March Madness.