What a special season it has been.  I have been attending Friars games since I was a child when my late father would take my brother and me to see the likes of Austin Croshere (my mom’s future NBA crush), John Linehan, and Jamel Thomas.  I truly believe this is the underlying reason behind my desire to attend Providence College later in life. 

This will be one of the more anticipated Big East Tournaments in recent memory, especially coming off two years without fans due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  There is a lot of parody in the Big East and in a conference known for its toughness and competitiveness, anything can happen.  The last time the Friars were able to capture a Big East Tournament title was 2014 when they were led by Bryce Cotton, an undersized point guard who had an impressive clutch gene and almost single-handedly took down Doug McDermott and Creighton that year.  I watched that game with my college roommates and fellow alumni in the late afternoon/early evening of Parade Day at a small back bar in Newport and I will never forget the excitement of watching the Friars cut down those nets.  I will also never forget the hangover that followed the next day.

Now, it’s time to head back to Madison Square Garden for the 2022 Big East Tournament and Ed Cooley’s team is riding a high after securing their first-ever Big East regular-season title while enjoying an extended opportunity this week to rest and heal.  Al Durham, the team’s quintessential floor general, and closer has battled a lingering sports hernia injury that restricted his availability towards the end of the regular season. 

Cooley, the Big East coach of the year winner, who has been receiving national attention for his work with this team this season has been the rock for this senior team and his roster has bought into his mantra for this season, “be them dudes.”

Ranked No.11/No.10 in the polls respectively, the Friars are the #1 seed in the BET and boast a 24-4 record (14-3 in the conference) heading into tournament play.  Throughout the season, Providence has been dubbed “lucky” by analysts and broadcasters alike.  Providence is ranked #1 in KenPom.com’s “luck” category, but there is truly something magical about this team. 

As a lifelong Friar fan, you unintentionally get accustomed to disappointment.  
…The ball didn’t fall their way, they don’t close out games, too many missed free throws in crunch time, and so many more heartbreaking moments leaving you saying “maybe next year” at the commencement of each season…

But this year, it feels different.    The Friars can beat you in so many ways and it seems to be different every single game.  I can’t remember a Providence team like this.  Whether it’s an explosive performance from Jared Bynum, a shooting spree from AJ Reeves, a low-post clinic by Nate Watson, this team has found a way to win.

We’ve watched the Friars come up big in close games (they are 10-2 in games decided by 5 points of fewer).  We’ve seen the Friars tough-out wins in 3 different overtime games this season including a triple-overtime thriller against Xavier on February 23rd at home.  We’ve witnessed a resurgence in attendance at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and a renewed interest in a team that was predicted to finish in the bottom half of the Big East this season.
We’ve been a part of an amazing season as Friar fans, and I am excited to watch it continue during the Big East tournament and March Madness. 

See you at Midtown on Thursday! Game tips off at 12 pm.

The First Round of the Big East Tournament begins today. At noon on Thursday, Providence College will take on the winner of today’s 4:30 pm matchup between Xavier #8 vs Butler #9.

Midtown Oyster Bar is located at 345 Thames Street, Newport.