In a season of extreme highs and lows, the one-and-done effort from the 2018 Providence Friars almost feels like an anti-climatic ending that the Friars didn’t deserve.
With 2:06 left in the game and the Friars down 10, Nate Watson was assessed with a Flagrant 1 foul. This was a call that caused fans of the Friars all over the country – likely taking extended lunch breaks or watching the game from their office, on their phone, or in a bar (like me) – to utter out loud; ‘wtf was that call?’
Still, a bad outing resulting in a short-lived stint in the NCAA Tournament doesn’t take away from what these Friars have accomplished this season, nor should it be how the 2018 Providence Friars are remembered.
This was a team that, until the very last second, played with immense heart and soul. Yes, it was ugly at times. No, it wasn’t always easy to watch. But when the Friars were on, they were on. They played with grit. They had tenacity. These were the Friars that took a Xavier team up 17 in the Big East Tournament semifinals and struck fear into them, defeating the one seed in OT. This was a team that did not relent. When we speak of this team’s identity, a new assessment must be added: their indomitable spirit.
— YurView New England (@YurViewNE) March 16, 2018
Fans are hurt right now. Head to Twitter, message boards, and social media and you’ll see a lot of the same sentiments: some are angry with the continued first round exits, while others want to be positive but just can’t muster the energy right now. It’s understandable. These losses are deflating. The Friars saw it happen in November and December. They saw it happen again in January and February. Now, in March, this is a loss that knocks the wind out of you as a fan and puts a damper on your whole day. It’s understandable.
To my Providence fans out there: be hurt for a little while. Stew on it if you have to. Don’t say things out of emotion, but feel the emotions all the same. You have to. It’s part of the game. It’s part of being a fan. Feeling this now means that the next victory will be all the sweeter.
And then, remember what this Friars team did. This was a team that struggled through the offseason without any semblance of an identity. This was a team that had such high expectations in the preseason that, when it looked like they may not even make the NCAA Tournament, there were legitimate questions about what this team’s legacy would even be.
Well, the Friars rode highs of beating top five teams, lows of losing to DePaul and UMass, and gritted through enough to earn their bid. Were these Friars deserving of a 10 seed after all they’d done? I don’t know, but I’m proud that they did it.
Providence entered today 8-0 in games decided by 4 points or fewer. No team had won more games that close without a loss in Division I this season.
The Friars lost by 4 to Texas A&M today.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2018
I put it out there back in December that I believed this team would make the NCAA Tournament. They did. I believed this team could have gone to the Sweet 16. They didn’t. Despite that, I want to celebrate these Friars for giving me one of the most memorable seasons I’ve ever experienced.
And make no mistake, this season has been memorable. This group of seniors deserves to be held in esteem. Their accomplishments will be remembered as part of the history of Providence College basketball. And the fans got to enjoy it and can cherish it.
For those out there that want deeper tournament runs: it’s coming. The Friars will be back and will be dancing further into March. I’ve put myself out there with similar statements in the past and I’ve been correct, and, now, I’m putting myself out there again.
For now though, digest the loss. If it stings, let it sting. But keep your head up. The Friars will be back. There’s plenty more to look forward to in the years to come.
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