As Steve Napolillo, Director of Athletics at Providence College, stepped to the podium to officially welcome Kim English as PC’s new men’s basketball head coach Wednesday, a jolt of electricity pulsated through the room.
A large contingent of Friar followers and supporters crammed into seats inside Alumni Hall to witness the dawn of a new era and hear from the man who was given the keys to the hoops-themed kingdom. Multiple times, the audience stood in unison and showered English with applause.
More than seven months will elapse before he coaches his first game at Providence. Judging by the turnout for English’s introductory press conference, he doesn’t have to worry about the buy-in from a fanbase that features 10,000-plus season ticket holders.
“This is different,” was how English kicked off his first address to the Friar Faithful. “I hear you. We see you. We’re going to give you everything we’ve got.”
Kim English to Steve Napolillo: get rid of that list of coaches #pcb. pic.twitter.com/USzUMzr5hC
— Brendan McGair (@BWMcGair03) March 29, 2023
A four-year letterwinner at the University of Missouri who enjoyed a 41-game stint with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, English made coaching stops at Tulsa and Colorado before rising to the head-coaching ranks at George Mason – he spent the past seasons at the Atlantic 10. He’s no stranger to the New England region after attending now-closed Notre Dame Prep, located in Fitchburg, Mass.
In his brief tenure as Friar boss, English has picked up on the characteristics that help serve as the great separator when referring to the previous stops he’s made on his basketball journey.
“This place is special. Something different is going on here,” said English. “The alignment from the top down, from the upper leadership to the athletic department … when we sit down and talk, I feel what I’ve been craving for a long time. Seeing what was on the cusp of happening here, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Kim English has already watched all of the PC game tape from last year.
“I know all of your games.”
“Jayden, you know I know your game.”
A one-on-one game from last night certainly was telling.@ABC6 #PCBB #GoFriars #mindset @Englishscope24 pic.twitter.com/VcMLYUBxre
— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) March 29, 2023
At age 34, English is young enough to still be able to relate to today’s college players. In his opening days on the job, he’s challenged two Friar players from last year’s squad – Devin Carter and Jayden Pierre – to 1-on-1 duels that became internet sensations thanks to English sharing via his personal Instagram account.
“We’re going to hold true to the standard that Providence basketball has set and we’re going to take it to the next level,” said English, looking directly at the Providence players who were sitting in the front row.
As he wrapped up his inaugural address, English shared the mantra that will serve as the program’s guiding light – So what? Now what?
“Steve (Napolillo) you had a rough couple of weeks. So what? Now what?” said English.
With that belief, let the Kim English era at Providence College commence.
Brendan McGair is a sportswriter and columnist with the Pawtucket Times and the Woonsocket Call. A graduate of Providence College, McGair is a five-time recipient of the R.I. Sports Writer of the Year Award as voted by the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).
Follow McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 and on Instagram @bwmcgair.