PROVIDENCE — Every coach has his or her own way to get the team ready. For Ed Cooley, that means leaving no stone unturned.
Following Providence’s 80-49 runaway performance against an overmatched Brown team on Monday night, Cooley took the media inside the preparation his team goes through leading up to tip-off time. Focusing on the opponent’s tendencies is one area that’s obviously stressed – PC was going up against a Brown squad that prefers to play at a much slower tempo – yet there’s a little thing called self-scouting that Cooley believes is just as vital to the cause.
“We need to prepare for ourselves as much as we’re preparing for someone’s opponent,” Cooley said following the Friars’ third straight win to improve to 7-2. “The way we scout and watch film, I’m very grateful that our school spent a lot of money on an editing system. That allows us as a staff to go through every pass and shot a player makes. Everything can be micromanaged in practice so they can see themselves.”
Cooley then went on to praise not only how far the Friar players have come in comprehending the scouting report, but also going out and executing it. For Vincent Council, that meant removing Brown’s leading scorer, Sean McGonagill, from the equation. Council clearly won this duel, finishing one rebound shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
Defensively Council held McGonagill to seven points on 2-of-12 shooting with six turnovers.
“You would have to ask him, but I think might have taken the challenge of playing Sean personally,” said Brown head coach Jesse Agel. “I think the focus was 'This guy is good and we’re going to go after him.'”
“I just knew that was the key to winning this game was to shut (McGonagill, averaging just under 14 ppg) down,” Council said. “He’s the key to their team and runs their offense.”
The renewal of the PC-Brown series was not even close. The Bears (4-6) opened the game in a 4-for-19 shooting funk on their way to trailing 34-19 after one half, which saw Council nearly outscore the opposing team by himself with 15 points.
The pace of the game clearly bothered Brown, which PC took full advantage of. With Council manning the controls and shredding the opposition’s man-to-man strategy, the Friars continuously beat the Bears down the floor for easy scoring chances. To Agel, PC registered more harm than the 12 fast-break points it received credit for.
“I thought Providence played us much better and much tougher,” said Agel when referencing his team’s 19-point loss to Iowa over the weekend. “We were struggling to make shots and they just came out and knocked us in the face to start the game.
“They got on the backboard and guys were sprinting down the floor because they know they’re going to receive it from (Council),” Agel went on. “He’s now looking to get his as much as he’s looking to make the next pass up the floor.”
Council’s recipients included freshman LaDontae Henton, who earlier in the day was named Big East Rookie of the Week. Henton finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Bryce Cotton scored 17 of his 19 points after halftime while Gerard Coleman, who received mention on the Big East honor roll, came through with 10 points and six rebounds.
Andrew McCarthy led the way for Brown with 12 points while Matt Sullivan chipped in with 10 off the bench.
Afterwards Cooley announced that freshman guard Kiwi Gardner has been declared ineligible for the season. For a PC team that is woefully thin from a pure numbers standpoint, the loss of the Oakland, Calif. native is most crippling.
“I feel bad for Kiwi. This is something that we can’t control. It’s something that the NCAA deemed him ineligible. For whatever reason, I don’t know,” said Cooley, speaking to the media in somber tones. “We’re going to support him. The only thing he can do is come to Providence College as a non-qualifier. There are a lot of rules I need to read up on. I just know that he’s not going to be able to practice or play.
“I really feel bad for him because he’s definitely someone who could help this club,” Cooley added.
Gardner was seated on the bench Monday night, sporting a suit. Cooley was asked about Gardner potentially returning to Providence for the second semester. “We hope so because I think he’s someone who can help this program moving forward.”
The topic of why the NCAA didn’t investigate Gardner’s high school transcript until after school had started at PC came up.
“There are a lot of coaches in the same boat that I’m in, but they did get their player established earlier,” Cooley said. “I wished the NCAA had done us a favor and done that, but that’s something I can’t control. We’ve got to try and support that young man as much as we can.”