Thinking out loud: Providence among teams on bubble

Providence coach Ed Cooley
Photo credit Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports
Thinking out loud…while wondering how much the coronavirus has hurt sales of Corona beer?

  • Life on the bubble.  Adventurous, no?  Forgot what it was like there for a while. 

 

  • If you actually had to live life on a bubble, your daily existence would be tenuous at best, for fear of the bubble bursting.  Or, if the world in which you exist has artificially inflated values, that could be unstable.  Unsafe. 

 

  • Sound familiar?  That’s life in the college hoop world right now for roughly 10-20 teams, including Providence.  Maybe even URI.  And there’s one thing both teams can do to keep the bubble from bursting, unlike any outside market factors mentioned above.

 

  • You control you.  Just win, baby.  Al Davis has always been right about that.  Keep winning, and the bubble can turn into a concrete foundation for success.

 

  • Or, you can take a bubble bath, like Ed Cooley said this week.  Love that.

 

  • The Friars’ week was relatively quiet, after dispatching Marquette at the Dunk last Saturday – giving PC the sweep over the Golden Eagles.  Good for Big East seeding.  But for the ultimate goal in getting ‘off the bubble,’ more success is needed.

 

  • Even if Providence finds a way to win at 11th ranked Villanova Saturday, there’s still work to be done.  Can you correctly predict what will happen before a game starts this season, with the way we’ve seen it unfold? 

 

  • The unexpected, should be expected with PC and URI.  And that’s been the fun and joy (or agita) in coming along for the ride this year.  Yet both teams can be where they ultimately want to be, after riding a roller coaster – one a bit steeper than the other – this season. 

 

  • Which was expected after all, wasn’t it?

 

  • The 6-10 Mitchell twins (Makhi and Makhel) certainly seemed comfortable during their visit to the Dunk last weekend.  The former Maryland Terrapins are looking for a place to land after leaving last semester, and there they were – decked out in PC gear, taking pre-game shots with the current Friars on the floor.

 

  • They are, of course, hoping for the new transfer rule (one time, no waiting) to go through, and become immediately eligible for 2020-21.  The new rule will result in found gold for someone, and big headaches for others.

 

  • Grad transfer Luwane Pipkins’ play has improved for two reasons. 1) He’s healthier. 2) He’s running off screens to find his shot, rather than playing the point guard.  Which he really isn’t.

 

  • And Kalief Young’s senior-season resurgence has been a needed boost, especially on the defensive end.  He’s been too quick for opposing players in the post. 

 

  • Spoke at length with point-guard-in-waiting Jared Bynum on the Ed Cooley Show this week.  The St. Joseph’s transfer knows what is expected of him.  He’s embracing it, telling us “I want to win.”

 

  • Hamilton, MA product and Creighton point guard Marcus Zegarowski was not just the Big East Player of the Week this week, he was also the USBWA National Player of the Week.  He hit 7-for-7 from deep in a 22-point pasting of Butler.

 

  • Rhody’s stumble against Davidson wasn’t harmful.  The near-miss disaster at Fordham would have been.  A win, is a win, is a win, is a win.  But the Rams shouldn’t go and do that again.

 

  • With a 20-win season now in hand, the trick will be to maintain, if not to build upon what you already have.  Saint Louis is talented, capable.  But a notch behind the Rams in the A-10.  We’ll see how big that notch is on Sunday at the Ryan Center.

 

  • Don’t get caught looking ahead to Dayton next week.  Losing to the Billikens Sunday (one of my favorite nicknames, btw) could mean they just beat you twice.

 

  • Brown’s big shot at the postseason is this weekend, with home games against Princeton and Penn – the Tigers are a game up, the Quakers a game behind in the Ivy standings. 

 

  • Top Four make the Ivy tourney, the Bears are presently 4th.  Little wiggle room.

 

  • Bryant has EIGHT NEC Rookie of the Week awards in men’s basketball this season, going to three different players.  Did we mention the future is blindingly bright in Smithfield?

 

  • In case you haven’t noticed, the Providence hockey Friars are currently facing the same situation as their basketball brethren.  They need to win out, basically.  Despite the play of Hobey Baker candidates Jack Dugan and Tyce Thompson, PC (2-4-1 in their last seven) has fallen precipitously in the Pairwise rankings.

 

  • The loss to Merrimack puts the Friars in danger of missing the Hockey East tournament, much less the NCAA’s where they’ve grown accustomed to playing.  Huge one in the home finale this weekend against Maine.

 

  • Speaking of Merrimack, the men’s basketball team set the Division I record for wins this week for 1st year DI programs – winning their 20th of the season against Central Connecticut. That also gives the Warriors the regular season NEC title…again, in their FIRST year of Division I.

 

  • But they aren’t yet eligible for the NEC tournament, the NCAA or NIT – due to their probationary status for a few more years.  Dumb?  The rule of ‘sitting out’ needs to be revisited.  Instead, the Warriors have already accepted a bid to play in the CIT – which won’t start for three more weeks.

 

  • Ocean State Cup time in lacrosse, with PC having already defeated Bryant and the Friars and Brown Bears battle Saturday for state supremacy.  The Bears, however, are 23-1 against PC since 1980.

 

  • Holy Cross rowing coach Patrick Diggins has retired from the school after 34 years with the program.  Diggins was at the wheel of the fatal van crash that killed a student last month while on a training trip to Florida. 

 

  • The name Sabrina Ionescu may not mean much to you, unless you’re my buddy Edward in East Providence.  Ionescu is a senior at Oregon, but this past week became the only player – man or woman – in college history to score 2000 points, grab 1000 rebounds and dish out 1000 assists for a career.

 

  • Just hours before she set the record, she eulogized her mentee, Gianna Bryant and her mentor, Kobe Bryant, at their celebration of life in Los Angeles.

 

  • Collegiate name, image and likeness rules and regs for student-athletes will be coming down the path soon from the NCAA – maybe in the next few weeks, so says the Sports Business Journal.  Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman is on that committee.

 

  • Suffice to say – some athletes are going to be paid, by third parties of course.  But this ain’t Kansas anymore, Toto.

 

  • NFL Combine = men running and jumping around in tights.  The Underwear Olympics.  Or, the Peter Pan Circus.  Take your pick.

 

  • Absolutely zero value to media and fans, and little more value than that to actual NFL personnel, scouts and coaches.  Except for the interview parts.  Players can talk themselves OUT of being selected – rarely does one talk himself INTO being drafted.

 

  • The ProJo’s Mark Daniels was the originator of this factoid – the Patriots have only drafted two of 154 players with confirmed Combine-week meetings in recent years. 

 

  • URI receivers Aaron Parker and Isaiah Coulter, along with offensive lineman Kyle Murphy, were the New England representatives at the Combine in Indianapolis this week.  Parker and Coulter are cousins, too, which makes this Rhody trio intriguing – to say the least.

 

  • Murphy grew up in Attleboro, MA, so he already has an idea what it takes to be a potential Patriot.  You’ve at least got to give these guys a little credit – coming from a program that was 2-10 last season and has long been an afterthought within football circles, near and far.

 

  • They are one step away, or a jump, or a sprint, or a rep…from playing the game for money.  Not too shabby.  Especially coming from a program that might be better served if it were a hockey team.

 

  • Patriot needs?  C’mon, it starts under center, amiright?  Outside of that obvious need, a clear focus seems to be on the tight end position.  Even while poking and prodding this week, the Patriots should look into the free agent market for this spot as well.

 

  • But the TB12 thing?  Will he stay?  Will he go?  Coming, going.  Staying, leaving.  Nauseating.

 

  • I huddled up with Rookestradamus again this week.  He sez TB12 is staying.  Sez the media is full of it, the hype is ridiculous, especially from this Jeff Darlington guy at ESPN who said this week he’d be “stunned” if TB12 came back to the Patriots.

 

  • I’ll be stunned if anyone at ESPN actually starts reporting rather than fishing for clicks or twitter followers.

 

  • And if TB12 leaves – well then, TB12 is also full of it.  It’s that obvious.  You reap what you sew.

 

  • An early, positive thought on next year – the NFLPA should ratify the proposed CBA from ownership.  We have one less preseason embarrassment and one more game that means something.  And the players will get their quid.  Win-win-win.

 

  • And if you want TB12 to stay in New England, you had best hope this deal is voted upon – and passed – soon.  Like in the next two weeks.  Then, the Patriots can step in to talk turkey with the GOAT.

 

  • Did you hear the story about ESPN Cleveland in Indy to do a show on the Combine – and accidentally left their mics open on a streaming video feed of the radio program? 

 

  • One of the hosts called Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield “a (bleep)ing midget” on that video feed.

 

  • Tony Grossi, the reporter who made the insensitive remark, was suspended.  These days, you just don’t know when a microphone is open, or a video is rolling. 

 

  • It’s Big Brother’s fault, I tell ya’.  George Orwell’s 1984 is firmly entrenched in our every day lives, 36 years (or more) after the fact. 

 

  • Great story about the Carolina Hurricanes’ emergency goalie/Zamboni driver David Ayres, right?  He stopped eight of 10 shots as the Canes beat Toronto 6-3 last week.  Amazing, really.

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but WTH does this say about hockey – that a guy basically off the street can come into a game in a professional sport and actually WIN IT? 

 

  • Wonder if my buddy Bruce, who drives a Zamboni for part of his living, could plop himself on the ice, put on those big pads and stop a few pucks?  C’mon, man.

 

  • Nick Ritchie?  Ondrej Kase?  Nick’s brother Brett plays for the Providence Bruins, if you missed that.  Otherwise, not sure yet what to make of the Bruins’ trade results this week.

 

  • Good for Ritchie, though.  He’s gone from almost-worst in Anaheim to first in Boston this week.  Don’t screw this up, Nick.

 

  • Congrats to the seven newest members of the RI Hockey Hall of Fame announced this past week – PC’s Tim Army and Paul Guay, LaSalle Academy’s Lou Cimini and Jack Ferreira, former Brown coach Jim Fullerton and one-time Mountie and US Olympian Garth Snow.

 

  • Did you see where Celtics’ assistant coach Jerome Allen was hit with 15-year show cause penalty this week from the NCAA, for his accepting bribes while he was the head coach at Penn to get a kid into school?

 

  • Don’t think he’ll be going back to the college ranks anytime soon, anyway.

 

  • Hey Celtics, can someone explain why did Kemba Walker played as much as he did in the all-star game, and now is hurt and can’t help his team? 

 

  • He’s missed four straight games since the break, and seven of the past 11 overall…but there he was getting the third-most minutes in a game that means ZERO.

 

  • Danny Ainge has spun this as you might expect, without answering the question.  Somebody screwed up here.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Was the Red Sox spring training attendance streak snapped in Fort Myers?  There were 136 straight sellouts at JetBlue before this week – when an announced sellout of 9219 was made by the team. 

 

  • With most of the right field seats and those beyond the foul pole, per reports, camouflaged as empty.

 

  • Is this what we’ve come to?  Doctoring attendance figures for spring training games?  Oh boy.  Long season straight ahead.

 

  • Made just a bit longer with the news that Chris Sale will start the year on the injured list. 

 

  • But hey, Luis Severino is out for the Yankees.  And Giancarlo Stanton can’t stay healthy long enough to even attempt to earn his shameless contract.  The Sox should take victories any way they can get them.

 

  • The coronavirus outbreak has caused the University of Michigan to cancel a spring football trip to Europe.  If this thing lingers past the seasonal timeframe for most contagious afflictions, might summertime basketball tours for college teams be on the chopping block this year?

 

  • Or what about a major event, like March Madness, facing postponement or cancellation?  Athletic Business reported this week the NCAA has requested all parties with a financial stake in the upcoming tournament to “consider purchasing event cancellation insurance as terrorism and weather-related losses become more commonplace.”

 

  • Whoa.

 

  • The International Olympic Committee said this week that conceivably, they could cancel the summer Olympics in Tokyo because of the coronavirus outbreak spreading throughout Asia and now onto other continents. 

 

  • This is a $2.5 billion operation, these Olympics.  Another $1 billion from the college games.  Can’t imagine anything on this scale cancelling with so much sponsor and infrastructure $$$ at stake.  But late May is apparently the line of demarcation for postponement – or even calling it off. 

 

  • In the meantime, I got a guy who knows a guy who is selling surgical face masks, cheap.  They’ll be the new currency before we know it, at this rate.

 

  • Stunningly, Google Trends says “Corona beer virus” is one of the most-commonly searched-for terms in the US, Canada, India and Australia. 

 

  • To which I say, “beer me.”  And make it a Corona, with a lime.

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.