In The End, Friars Gifted Fans With A Season To Savor

“This was one hell of a season" - Ed Cooley

For a brief stretch Friday night, it appeared this sweet March Madness ride for the Providence Friars was poised to add another memorable chapter.Armed with a fist full of pixie dust, PC had the last of the No. 1 seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament on the run and left wondering what exactly was going on inside the United Center. Ultimately, Kansas lived up to its blue blood reputation and sent the Friars home for the season after notching a 66-61 win in the Sweet 16 round.

Dance Banner 728Dance OSSGDance A-1PC wrapped up a 27-6 campaign that went out with a flourish after danger signs appeared everywhere throughout the first half and continued during the opening stages of the latter half. The Jayhawks repeatedly sent shock waves by blocking seven shots in an opening 20 minutes that ended with the Friars swishing seven baskets yet somehow down by a respectable amount at halftime (26-17).Just when everything appeared to be coming up roses for Kansas, Providence dusted itself off and delivered a series of counterpunches led by Ed Croswell and Noah Horchler. Croswell was the first Friar to cut into KU’s 13-point lead with 14:53 remaining by ripping off seven straight points, then it was Horchler’s turn with back-to-back three-pointers that woke up the Friar Faithful as their team moved to within one (41-40).

 

A little high-low action with Al Durham feeding Horchler translated into the first lead of the contest for the Friars – 48-47 with 5:49 remaining. Time to start making plans for Sunday’s Elite Eight contest?Not so fast said the Jayhawks, who responded to the one-point deficit with a seven-point run that placed the Friars in the familiar predicament of needing to play catchup. This time, the hole proved too tough to climb out of. When Kansas star Ochai Agbaji converted an alley-oop for a rim-rocking dunk, PC found itself in deep trouble at 57-50 with 2:57 remaining.

 

Despite the season-ending loss, the postgame mood featured an upbeat tenor. No one expected the Friars to take their fanbase on the type of ride that ultimately ensued. Remember, this was a team pegged to finish seventh by the Big East coaches. Those folks and plenty of others ate loads of crow after Providence achieved the program’s first Big East regular-season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.

 

 

In short, it was a season to savor – a point articulated several times by coach Ed Cooley during his postgame address Friday night.“I’m not going to let our men’s heads be down,” Cooley said. “This was one hell of a season. And we got beat by a great team – a really, really good team. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m sad. I’m heartbroken. But I’m not going to let this one loss define the type of season that we had.”