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Cooley, Friars at a Crossroads

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Some say that you learn a lot about someone when they’re dealing with adversity. If that is indeed the case, we could learn a lot about Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars over the next few weeks.

After losing three games (at Boston College, at Brown, vs. DePaul) that they were not expected to, it would be wrong to say that the Providence Friars are a team in turmoil. However, they are a team in flux.

No coach was better at dealing with adversity than two-time Super Bowl Champion Bill Parcells. In fact, I remember a quote from Parcells while his Patriots were dealing with quite a bit of adversity. It went something like this. “I’m up to my ass in alligators but they’re not draining the swamp anytime soon!”

Bill Parcells

The message from Parcells was one where he acknowledged his team’s troubles, but made it clear that he was up to the challenge of seeing them through their difficult times.

Clearly, Ed Cooley will take the same approach. Cooley knows that his team is struggling both mentally and physically, and he will not back down from the challenge of turning things around. However, it is going to take a lot of work to right this ship.

After four straight losses, the Friars have more than their share of problems. Defensively, the team has struggled to stop opponents consistently. Offensively, the Friars are not doing a great job of taking care of the basketball (14 turnovers combined by Vincent Council and Kris Dunn vs. DePaul) and only Kadeem Batts and Bryce Cotton (when healthy) are scoring consistently.

From a defensive standpoint, Cooley may want to consider more man-to-man full court pressure as opposed to what has amounted to be an ineffective three-quarter-court zone press. When they applied that man-to-man pressure on DePaul in the second half Saturday night, they were able to claw their way back into the game. That type of pressure could create more turnovers leading to easy baskets for the Friars.

Offensively, it is clear that Vincent Council is slowly working his way back to the dominant point guard he was prior to getting injured against NJIT. Likewise, we need to understand that Kris Dunn is only a freshman and, despite being a McDonald’s All-American, he is going to struggle at times. Very few freshmen can come in play great, error-free basketball in college right away. Friar fans, and coaches must be patient with him for that very reason.

LaDontae Henton

Likewise, it may be just a coincidence, but PC’s LeDontae Henton has had arguably his two worst offensive games after being publicly lambasted by his head coach for not playing defense in the Brown game. Henton scored 7 points (3-10 FG) at Louisville and 6 points (3-7 FG) against DePaul. The film may show that his defense is better than it was against the Bears a week ago, but PC needs him to be much more of an offensive force than that.

Which brings us to the next point. Cooley’s biggest challenge will be trying to keep his team’s confidence up as the Big East season wears on.

Parcells was a master motivator who almost always knew which buttons to push for every player he coached. Parcells knew which guys needed a pat in the ass and which guys needed a boot in the ass and he made sure that they received it.

The Tuna was also outstanding at gauging the attitude of his team and he would handle them accordingly. For example, one might think that after a bad loss or two that Parcells would resemble an angry bear and ride his players hard or be happy go lucky after a good win. That was rarely the case.

In fact, Parcells was often times much harder on his teams after a win than he was following a loss. His rationale was that he didn’t want his players to get too high on themselves when things were going well and didn’t want to destroy their confidence by brow-beating them when they were down.

This will be Ed Cooley’s toughest assignment because right now it would appear that his team’s confidence is fragile at best.

And with 7th-ranked Syracuse about to invade the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Wednesday night, they’re not draining the swamp anytime soon!



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He's getting his million a year. Unreal, a million a year, and his team has quit on him. I don't blame them though, he's a big mouth blowhard.

Comment #1 by Marc Pappas on 2013 01 06


I understand your frustration and, yes, he is paid very well. However, I don't believe that the team has "quit on him" and don't think that he is "a big mouth blowhard." While I was not a fan of him lambasting Henton publicly after the Brown game, I do think that Ed is a very good motivator of men. I believe that he needs to do a better job from an x's and o's standpoint in some of these close games and needs to revisit how they defend. Also, his biggest challenge will be handling the fragile egos of his players and getting them to develop a chemistry.

Comment #2 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 06


he needs to do a better job from an x's and o's standpoint... PERIOD. the fact that this game wasn't even close is very concerning. couple that with the fact that he has yet to really take ownership of this new level of suck... and count me as one very concerned fan.

Comment #3 by Eric McNamara on 2013 01 06


I don't know if you read my response to Marc, but I acknowledge the fact that he has to do a better job with the x's & o's.

Comment #4 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 06

Scott..maybe the problem is that this "very good motivator of men" is dealing w/teens & very young,untested men ???....thats a very big difference...also it appears that you wrote this piece but are afraid Ed will be upset w/you unless you defend each & every critic who comments..CYA

Comment #5 by frank bentley on 2013 01 06

I meant "we're" only a bit more than a year into his tenure.

Comment #6 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 07


I respect your opinion, but that is not the case. Do I care what Ed thinks? Certainly! I like the man and don't want to upset him. Honestly, I don't like to have any enemies. That said, I get paid to give my opinion here which is why I do it. I think that there are some members of the media who cover the team that are afraid to write or say the truth.
The reason I point out the positives with Ed is because I do think he has a lot to offer and believe in him that he will get the job done here. Were only a bit more than a year into his tenure so the man deserves some time.

Comment #7 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 07

I don't think anyone is quitting or not playing well because Ed Cooley spoke negatively about any of the Friar players. Those kids know their coach and knows he has their back. He is brutally honest, wears his emotion on his sleeve. That is who he is and that is why these kids choose PC. The ship will be righted. I know things!!! GO FRIARS!

Comment #8 by Wally M on 2013 01 07

He may be a great motivator, but that is not enough to win games in the Big East. Its not even our win loss record that worries me, its the lack of defense, and the overall confusion this team seems to have on the court. And as far as Scott goes, he is the only member of the media that has actually said anything negative about Cooley, and I appreciate that. Scott, you are an honest person, and I hope you continue to hold him acountable.

Comment #9 by Marc Pappas on 2013 01 07

Hey Scott, I like Cooley as well but it's time that he demonstrated his coaching ability versus recruiting and promotion. Sometimes I think he's preoccupied with professing how happy he is to be the Friars head coach (as if it never could happen) than having his players play solid, fundamental basketball. As a season ticket holder, I haven't been overly impressed with his tactical ability on the court so far.
I respectfully suggest he lower the volume on the PR and hype and get back to emphasizing basics (solid defense, free throws)with a team that is prepared to give 100% for 40 minutes every game.The road only gets more difficult from here, let's see if he's up to the job.
PS: If I were AD Driscoll, I wouldn't go overboard and sign him to a mega-long term contract until he proves he can WIN!.

Comment #10 by Harold Stassen on 2013 01 07


Thanks for the kind words. However, I'm simply doing my job. While PC's defense needs to improve dramatically, it's not nearly as bad as it was under Keno Davis. However, you could argue that the offense isn't as good as it was under Keno either. Then again, he had Marshon Brooks.


Good points. I understand PC wanting stability in its men's hoops program give the break-up of the Big East. For that reason, I think they jumped the gun proclaiming their desire to extend Cooley's deal. He's in year 2 of a 7-year deal so there is absolutely no need to extend it at this time. I see no harm in waiting 2-3 years before making such a commitment.

Comment #11 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 08

Scott what everyone wants is to see improvement over a season but instead we see regression.we seamed to have more energy when everyone was playing 40.I don't see a team that has quit but I don't see 100%.
lazy passes slow up the floor and off of the floor. ball movement is not good and one that misses so many bunnies and looks for the refs to bail them out.we finally got energy when our walk-on came in.won't be dreaming about cutting the nets anytime soon. way to soon to talk about adding to contract.better X's and o's needed like calling that timeout when you need to settle down your team

Comment #12 by michael manchester on 2013 01 08


Your first point is an excellent one! It's strange to think that the team had more energy and was playing better with 6-7 players and without Vincent Council. It doesn't seem to make much sense. Maybe there was more of a sense of "team" when they were undermanned. Maybe that was a great rallying point for the team? I can't explain it. They certainly have more talent and more depth now than they did first semester but the chemistry and the production just isn't there. It's very hard to explain.

Comment #13 by Scott Cordischi on 2013 01 08

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