Remembering The 1987 Final Four Friars
Monday, January 09, 2012
Rhode Island sports fans have celebrated many a championship over the years. The Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins have all taken us on those great championship rides. But as much as we have enjoyed all of those great pro sports moments, true Rhode Islanders care more about what’s happening in their own backyard.
This is why we will celebrate the 1987 Providence College men’s basketball team tonight at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
It is the 25th anniversary of PC’s miraculous run to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four where, although they didn’t win a National Championship, the Friars took all of Rhode Island on a magical ride.
Led by second year coach Rick Pitino, PC finished the regular season (21-8) and was the #6-seed in the Southeast Region. However, the Friars drew what looked to be a tough break when they had to play 11th-seeded UAB in Birmingham, Alabama. Providence had little trouble disposing of the Blazers 90-68 thanks to 35 by Billy Donovan.
They faced another southern school – Austin Peay (Clarksville, TN) in round two. Providence trailed the 14th-seeded Governors by 10 with less than 6 minutes to go. But a 12-2 run to close out regulation sent the game to overtime where the Friars defeated the Governors in a close one 90-87. Pop Lewis led PC with 26. Donovan scored 25. It was on to the Sweet 16!
Louisville, Kentucky was the site for PC’s next two games. The Friars trounced the #2-seed Alabama 103-82 behind Billy Donovan’s 26 and Delray Brooks’ 23. It set up an all-Big East regional final with top-seeded Georgetown.
Providence had split their two regular season match-ups with the powerful Hoyas but was considered a heavy underdog in this match-up. Reggie Williams scored 25 to lead the Hoyas, but this game belonged to Billy The Kid (20 points) and Darryl Wright (20 points). To the Big Easy and the Final Four!
With UNLV, Indiana and Syracuse joining PC in New Orleans, there was no question as to which team wore the Cinderella label. Unfortunately, the glass slipper did not fit the Friars as their season came to an end with a 77-63 loss to the Orangemen in the National Semifinals.
Still, it was a magical run by the Friars. And tonight at the Dunk, many of the players from that team will be honored at halftime of PC’s game against the 14th-ranked Louisville Cardinals and Rick Pitino. Ryan Ford, Darryl Wright, Carlton Screen, Dave Kipfer, Jacek Duda, Ernie “Pop” Lewis and Del Ray Brooks will all be there bringing back memories of a great moment in Providence College basketball and Rhode Island sports history.