Against Villanova, Providence gets a taste of the big games to come

Providence head coach Ed Cooley grew up in South Providence. Credit… Nick Wass/Associated Press Cooley is the rare coach who stayed ...


Credit…Nick Wass/Associated Press

Cooley is the rare coach who stayed for a while.

Of course, for him, it’s home. Cooley, 52, grew up in South Providence, in the same troubled neighborhood as Marvin Barnes. He played for Central High and didn’t go far for college – Stonehill College, just across the border from Massachusetts – before embarking on a coaching career that took him to Providence in 2011.

His teams play with his same frank face.

This edition happens to be better. He’s also old — Reeves, the youngest starter, will turn 23 in June — and he’s been around the block, with five graduate students and five transfers. The Brothers, you might say, are complete companions who excel in no particular trait except one: winning close matches.

They had won all nine games this season that had been decided by 5 points or less through Tuesday – an impressive roster that included road wins over Wisconsin, Connecticut and Xavier, and home wins over Texas Tech. and Marquette. That balance in tense moments, however, was absent against Villanova.

Cooley wondered where his defense was – “left on Eaton Street or in the dorms,” he said – but he hoped there were lessons to be learned for the latter part of the season, many of which revolved around of the way Villanova executed with composure and precision when the mood was bananas and the game was in the balance.

“They showed a lot of poise,” Cooley said of Villanova, whom he called basketball’s blue blood. “It’s as hostile an environment as you’re going to see in college basketball. My head is ringing, literally.

Cooley was speaking shortly after the crowd retreated from the arena. If he wanted his players to learn from the game, he also wanted them to think about the final weeks ahead of the regular season, the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, and then the NCAA Tournament.

The message: There will be more games like the one they played on Tuesday.

“Last time I checked, the Brothers still held the top spot,” Cooley correctly noted. “So there is a big picture there. Like I just told our men, our worst day is a young man’s dream of being in that locker room.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Against Villanova, Providence gets a taste of the big games to come
Against Villanova, Providence gets a taste of the big games to come
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