According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Ed Cooley will be named the next head coach of the Providence College Friars men’s basketball team. Cooley has been the head coach at Fairfield University for the last five seasons.
Cooley will be returning home to Providence. In the late 1980s Cooley starred at Central High School, twice winning Rhode Island High School Player of the Year honors. While in high school, he played alongside current Brown University assistant coach Abdul Abdullah. It would not surprise me if Abdullah, who played for the Friars from 1992–1994, were asked to join Cooley’s staff reuniting the two high school stars.
Cooley went on to play college basketball at Stonehill College. In 1996, he joined Al Skinner’s coaching staff at the University of Rhode Island. In 1997, he followed Skinner to Boston College. The duo would be instrumental in leading the Eagles to a 175–108 record over the next nine seasons, including five 20–win seasons.
Cooley was hired as head coach of the Fairfield Stags in 2006. After starting out 13–19 in his first season, the Stags improved each of Cooley’s five seasons at the helm. This last season, Fairfield won the regular-season MAAC title with a 25–8 record. Cooley was name the MAAC Coach of the Year. The team lost in the conference semifinals, however, thus denying them a NCAA tournament bid. The Stags got eliminated in the second round of the NIT this past weekend.
Cooley hopes to revitalize a PC program that has been ravished by poor play on the basketball court and poor decision-making off of it. Previous coach, Keno Davis, struggled to get his team to play defense in his three years at Providence. The last two seasons, the Friars went 27–36 overall, and 8–28 in the Big East. More troubling than that, however, were the disciplinary problems of the young athletes Davis brought in. Too many times players were kicked off the squad, or benched for undisclosed reasons.
Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated writer and CBS sports analyst, tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “Providence made a great move hiring Ed Cooley. Great recruiter and coach, energetic, charismatic, knows the area. A home run.”
Cooley’s skills we be put to the test right away as he competes in the toughest conference in the nation. The Big East, despite not faring very well in the NCAA tournament, did place a record 11 teams in the Big Dance. The 41-year-old new coach of the Friars will be asked to battle the likes of legendary coaches like Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim.
Despite losing the nation’s second-leading scorer in Marshon Brooks, the Friars do have some good young talent coming back. Sophomore Vincent Council along with freshmen Gerard Coleman and Kadeem Batts form a good young nucleus. It will be up to Cooley to surround those three with some good shooters (the basketball kind) in hopes of returning the Friars program to its glory days. Since making it to the Final Four in 1987, PC has only made it to the NCAA tournament seven times in 24 seasons, winning only one game.
Cooley will be formally introduced as head coach of the Providence College Friars at a news conference on Wednesday.