PROVIDENCE – Now that the fog has dispersed and Providence College along with the rest of its Catholic school brethren have succeeded in making a clean break from the Big East, now seems as good a time as any to raise the question of just how appealing a basketball-centric conference is in the eyes of potential recruits.
To that end, PC head coach Ed Cooley feels that the Catholic Seven and the still-to-be-determined additional schools have an excellent shot to thrive and prosper due to basketball serving as the main draw at every institution.
“Players are going to come knowing that they’re going to be the focal point of an athletic program versus being second fiddle to football,” says Cooley. “(The subject of conversing with high school prospects regarding a high-end basketball-only league) hasn’t even been discussed, but as long as the right leadership is in place at all the schools, we’re going to be in more than good shape.”
A pair of well-respected recruiting gurus agreed with Cooley as far as making sure that the correct people in place and the trickle-down effect as far as prospects are concerned. Like anything else, though, this new league is going to need time to market its brand.
“First and foremost, the league has to come up with a TV deal that gives it maximum exposure and then some,” notes Dave Telep, the senior national recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. “I believe kids commit to coaches first and schools second with leagues quickly becoming little more than idle chatter. Now, a basketball-only league is much more apt to take pride in its product and promote league first, but it’s a slow burn that will require time and proven results. (Secure a) TV deal and promote the coaches and then we’ll see what the future holds.”
Evan Daniels, a recruiting analyst for FoxSports.com, feels “a basketball-heavy conference could be beneficial depending on who fills out the league. Obviously the league has lost some depth and some of their elite teams, so that certainly hurts. Playing in a basketball-heavy conference can certainly be attractive.”
As far as Cooley and the Friars are concerned, perhaps the most noteworthy takeaway from the first-semester portion of the 2012-13 season was that there were only two instances where a player fouled out during the team’s 7-2 start. Much of the credit stems to the effective zone scheme Cooley and his staff concocted, but the coach was just as quick to lavish praise upon the players.
“Attention to detail,” said Cooley when broached about a topic that is no longer a source of concern now that Kris Dunn and Sidiki Johnson are onboard. “Our kids are playing together and as a unit; just doing everything they can.”
Added junior Kadeem Batts, “We definitely focused more, knowing that we were limited. In the zone, every spot has to be solidified and I feel that everyone is doing a great job in protecting their spot.”
Green was the color of choice at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday as the PC players donned green jerseys and sneakers with “Sandy Hook” appearing where the player’s name would normally appear. It was a show of solidarity as people continue to mourn the lives lost last Friday at the Newtown, Connecticut school.
“I really want to thank Nike for what they did. I called the company Sunday night because I wanted to honor the victims,” said Cooley. “It was more about us thinking about people who are going through a time that none of us would ever want to go through.”
In addition, a banner hung in the end zone behind Section 101 that read “Newtown, Connecticut: We have you in our thoughts and prayers.” In the same vicinity, flowers were placed on the seats of the two rows in front of the sign. Before the singing of the national anthem, a moment of silence was held while each of the victim’s names appeared on the video board.