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PROVIDENCE â€” Ed Cooley estimates that his coaching responsibilities account for â€ś20 percentâ€ť of his duties at Providence College.
Ask him just how much that small slice in an otherwise demanding pie means to him and Cooley will tell you pointblank that coaching supplies a jolt that by and large remains unmatched. The time he spends on the basketball floor alongside his assistants and players or in the video room breaking down tape is pure nirvana â€“ not to mention a prime chance to reinforce what his primary job entails.
â€śThe other day I went over to one of my coaches and talked to him about how much I enjoy coaching,â€ť Cooley said. â€śItâ€™s like being in your own laboratory. Youâ€™re dissecting opponents and implementing things that accentuate your strengths as a team. I love practice and I love game coaching.â€ť
In a time when college coaches give off the vibe that theyâ€™re constantly on the move â€“ whether itâ€™s attempting to forge relationships with recruits or rubbing elbows with donors or season-ticket holders at school-related functions â€“ the art of gamesmanship often gets overlooked. To Cooley, how you go about preparing for an opponent means everything.
In the days leading up to Fridayâ€™s game against Fairfield, the head coach mapped out a succinct schedule that demonstrates the emphasis Cooley places in priming his Friars.
â€śFor us preparation is key. (On Wednesday), we came in and watched film from 9:30 [in the morning) to quarter to 10. We walked through some of (Fairfieldâ€™s) sets before going back to watch more film,â€ť was the checklist Cooley rattled off. â€ś(On Thursday) we watched more film and practiced against their stuff. After eating turkey at my house, weâ€™ll sit down and watch more film. We will continue the process again on Friday morning.â€ť
While unearthing everything you possibly can about your opponent carries substantial weight, Cooley stressed the importance of making sure his own personnel takes a look in the mirror.
â€śKnow who you are versus whom youâ€™re playing against. Know your own strengths, but try to take away the strengths of your opponent,â€ť he emphasized. â€śItâ€™s about whoâ€™s going to be disciplined enough to follow instructions.â€ť
For the first two years of his PC career, Ted Bancroftâ€™s role on the scout team was clear and concise â€“ mimic the oppositionâ€™s top player. Now as a junior year, the highly vital walk-on finds himself donning a black practice jersey â€“ crystallizing his status as a first-team contributor â€“ as opposed to a grey jersey with a foreign number taped to his back.
In the eyes of the East Providence native, the switch in job descriptions, mandated due the limited numbers Cooley currently has at his disposal, has gone relatively smooth.
â€śI used to love playing on the scout team because thatâ€™s actually how I got most of my confidence,â€ť Bancroft explained. â€śNow itâ€™s totally different. Instead of learning all of other teamâ€™s plays, Iâ€™m focused on our plays. I wouldnâ€™t say thereâ€™s more pressure, but there is.â€ť
Said Cooley, â€śHeâ€™s someone weâ€™ve thrown into the fire and he knows what heâ€™s doing on the floor. He understands basketball and heâ€™s very unselfish. There are players who get it and players who aspire to get it. He was born with it.â€ť
Bestowed with the nickname â€śWhite Lightningâ€ť by his coach, Bancroft has reached the stage where heâ€™s no longer seen as an additional link, but as an important piece thatâ€™s seen roughly 19 minutes of floor time during Providenceâ€™s first five games.
â€śEven before (playing all 45 minutes in an overtime loss to Penn State down in Puerto Rico), the guys trusted me,â€ť Bancroft said. â€śEvery day as a kid, I used to go outside and pretend that I was a Friar. Now Iâ€™m realizing my childhood dream.â€ť
After Friday, Providence will have three games remaining before the exam break. Cooley is still hopeful that the NCAA will clear 6-foot-8 forward Sidiki Johnson prior to the Friarsâ€™ last game of the first semester â€“ Dec. 6 at The Dunk against URI). If a resolution doesnâ€™t come between now and then, Johnsonâ€™s first action would likely come Dec. 18 against Colgate.
A transfer from Arizona, Johnson has been spending time with the first string during practice in an effort to make sure heâ€™s on the same page with the rest of the Friars upon becoming eligible.
â€śWeâ€™re waiting to see what happens, but weâ€™re looking forward to having Sidiki soon,â€ť said Cooley.