Cooley Back Home in Providence

Ed Cooley

Cooley Back Home in Providence

It has not been easy to win at Providence. The Friars have not had a consistent winner on their hands since the Dave Gavitt era. That was back in the 1970’s right after Jim Larranaga was the team’s point guard. Since then it has been sporadic success at best. Rick Pitino took his Billy Donovan led team to the Final Four in 1987. Rick Barnes made the NCAA Tournament three times during his six year stay in Rhode Island, but never won a tournament game.

Since the Final Four run, the Friars have advanced beyond the first round of the NCAA Tournament just one time, an Elite Eight run in 1997 under Pete Gillen. The following season Gillen went 13-16, which led to the Tim Welsh era. Welsh quickly rebuilt, but was unable to sustain any success. It ended with three losing seasons in his last four years. Keno Davis did not make things any better, posting 4-14 conference records in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

This time around the Friars nabbed a coach in Ed Cooley that has a little more experience than Davis. Cooley tallied a 92-69 record in his five years at the helm of Fairfield. He never led the Stags to the NCAA Tournament, but he did turn around the program and made them consistent contenders in the MAAC. In 2010 the 23-11 Stags were invited to the CIT and last season they won 25 games and an automatic bid to the NIT by winning the conference regular season.

But the difference with Cooley is that he wants to be in Providence. He wants to stay in his hometown. While coaches like Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes parlayed their success at Providence into more lucrative jobs, Coach Cooley seems content to build a winner at home.


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