Scott Cordischi On Sports: Friars Making Most of Opportunity
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Win or lose tonight in Waco, Texas, you’d have to say that the NIT experience has been a very good one for Ed Cooley and his PC Friars.
Home wins over Charlotte and Robert Morris have put PC just one win away from the NIT’s Final Four in New York as they get set to tangle with the Big Twelve’s Baylor Bears tonight (9pm ESPN2, 103.7 FM).
While the NIT can be a great experience for any college basketball program, too many times we see teams that don’t seem to care about playing in the event which leads to an early exit.
This has not been the case for PC which seems to be enjoying the experience.
Whether it’s a senior like Vincent Council wanting to end his outstanding career on a high note or much needed postseason experience for some of the underclassmen, Providence College is in it to win it, as they like to say.
While winning tonight against a very talented Baylor team on the road won’t be easy, a victory could prove to be very beneficial to the Friars in a number of ways.
First, it would be a quality road win in a hostile environment. Coaches love those types of moments calling them “program builders.”
Even more important would be getting to New York’s Madison Square Garden for the Final Four.
It’s no secret that PC has performed miserably at the Garden over the past 15 years where they have pretty much been one-and-done at the Big East Tournament with very few exceptions. Getting to play one or possibly two more games at the Garden could be extremely beneficial for the team.
-In response to this writer’s line in a PC story a week ago that “sources close to Batts claim that he will not be returning to the program next season,” Kadeem tweeted the following, “sources are wrong.” As much as I hate to be wrong, I hope that I am in this case and that Batts does return to Providence next season. Not only do I think that the Friars would be much better with him in the line-up, I also believe that he would benefit greatly by returning to the program. Despite his solid play this season, an NBA scout told GoLocalProv.com, “his chances of being drafted, even in the second round, are slim.” If that’s the case, it would appear that a career in Europe or in the NBA’s D-League would be in the offing if he were to leave. Why not stay and try to better your position and possibly improve your draft stock on a team that has a chance to be very good next year? It makes too much sense, doesn’t it?
-It looks like we could get that Celtics-Heat playoff match-up we are all dreaming of after all. However, it could come a lot sooner than expected. With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Celtics currently hold down the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. However, with Kevin Garnett out for an undetermined amount of time, that spot seems anything but solid at the moment. Last night, the Knicks took the ball to the basket at will in Boston with no fear of rejection from Celtic big men. With just 1.5 game cushion on 8th place Milwaukee, it is very conceivable that Boston could slip into the 8th spot for a first round match-up with top-seeded Miami. The good news is that with only 12 games left in the regular season, Boston is not in jeopardy of falling out of the playoff picture. They hold a 9-game cushion on Philadelphia who is currently in 9th place.
-We keep reading stories out of Fort Myers that Red Sox starter John Lackey “feels good” about his stuff. That’s all fine and dandy, but he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up this spring and it doesn’t appear that the organization is counting on him for great things in 2013. Lackey is currently tabbed as the team’s fifth starter behind Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront.
-Speaking of the Sox, I’m not quite sure why manager John Farrell is holding off on announcing his opening day starter for Yankee Stadium next Monday. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that it is going to be Jon Lester. First, Lester’s performance this spring warrants the move. Secondly, if you look at how the rotation was set up for this final week of spring training, he is right on schedule to get that opening day start.
-Bruins-Canadiens take 3 tonight. Boston took the first meeting 2-1 in Montreal before falling to the Habs 4-3 at the Garden in their second match-up. Tonight’s game in Boston will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
-Even if their season comes to an end Friday night at the hands of the heavily favored Florida Gators, you have to love what this Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball team has done in this year’s NCAA Tournament. In all due respect to LaSalle, Oregon or Wichita State, the Eagles are the Cinderella team at this year’s dance and have been exciting to watch. Here’s hoping Dunk City continues its improbable run.
-And here’s hoping that my Syracuse Orange beat the Indiana Hoosiers Thursday night in Washington DC. While it certainly wouldn’t be revenge for their 1987 National Championship game loss at the hands of Keith Smart and the Hoosiers, it would be sweet to knock off the team many believed was the best in college basketball for a majority of the season.
-While the Big Ten often disappoints in the postseason, not this year. Believed to be the best conference in men’s college basketball this season, the Big Ten is proving it with their play in the tournament. No conference has more than the 4 teams that they have advanced to the Sweet 16. And their (10-3) record is the second best winning percentage (.769) in the tournament behind only the all-powerful Atlantic Sun Conference which has a winning percentage of 1.000. Thank you Florida Gulf Coast!
-It’s somewhat ironic that Bobby Hurley was hired this week by Buffalo to be their new men’s basketball coach. I sat in front of my TV last week watching ESPN’s documentary on Hurley’s great Duke teams of the early 90’s reliving all of those great moments including that classic 1992 tournament game against Kentucky. While I have never been a Duke fan, it’s hard not to appreciate what those teams did in beating what seemed like an invincible UNLV team, getting to four consecutive Final Fours and winning back-to-back national titles.
-Even if you despise the Miami Heat, you have to appreciate what they have been able to accomplish with this 27-game winning streak.
-If Red Sox legend Fred Lynn wants to see Jackie Bradley Jr. with the Red Sox on opening day, that’s good enough for me!
-I admit that I am not the biggest soccer fan, but I actually enjoyed seeing the US battle Costa Rica in the snow last week.
-Finally, congrats to Cranston, Rhode Island native David Quinn for being hired as the new men’s ice hockey coach at Boston University. Quinn played at BU from 1984-1987 for the man he will be replacing Jack Parker.