Come on now, admit it. If you are around my age (mid-50s), wasn’t the first thing that flashed through your mind when Vincent Council got injured on Saturday was Marvin Barnes limped off the floor at the Final Four in St. Louis way back in 1973? Friar fans have learned to use the phrase “not again” when it comes to injuries to essential players.
One thing most can agree on is that this program has been snakebitten ever since that day. Whether it is injuries, academic and disciplinary casualties, coaching departures, or losing recruiting battles, PC fans justly feel that throughout the years the Friars have had to overcome much more than their fair share of adversity.
The injury bug has been particularly cruel to Providence in recent years. Injuries to Friar players have derailed seasons, finished careers, killed PC teams’ chances for the post season, and in one instance even helped finish a coaching career.
Let’s take a painful look back on some of the key injuries that crippled the Friars:
Kris Dunn (Summer 2012): What are the chances a team loses both a First Team All Big East point guard and a freshman All American before the season is five minutes old? In the spring hope was eternal in Friartown, as fans desperately looked forward to seeing the Friars nationally ranked recruiting class on the floor in 2012-13. There was some disappointment that PC did not add that ever elusive big man to the recruiting haul, but expectations for the upcoming season were still higher than at any point in recent memory. Then it was announced in June that Dunn had been playing for a couple of months with a shoulder injury that required surgery — shelving him for at least five months. It was back to a reality Friar fans were all too familiar with, as now Providence supporters are playing a game they’re all too accustomed to — sitting and waiting for the day Dunn returns.
Sharaud Curry (2007, games missed: 30): Some have said that Sharaud Curry’s foot injury early in the 2007-2008 season was the final nail in the coffin for Tim Welsh’s career at PC. Curry was part of a 2005-2006 freshman class that showed solid potential early, but failed to live up to expectations, in large part due to injuries.
Curry was a steady contributor in his first two seasons on Smith Hill, as he averaged over 15 points per game and shot 90% from the free throw line as a sophomore on an 18 win team.
That 2007-2008 team essentially played the entire year without a real point guard after Curry went down (backup Dwain Williams missed 10 games of his own due to injury). The team finished 15-16 and Welsh was let go at the end of the year. Curry went on to play two more years under Keno Davis, but never lived up to the potential he showed early in his career.
Geoff McDermott —Another player from that 2005-2006 injury-plagued freshman calss was Geoff McDermott. McDermott’s knee injuries were different in that he did not miss game action, but he lost his explosiveness as his career progressed, and his game suffered because of it. The explosiveness in his game was just not there by his senior season. Randall Hanke, another veteran late in Welsh’s tenure (one who led the country in field goal percentage as a sophomore), missed the 2006-2007 season with a medical redshirt.
John Linehan (2000, games missed: 24): Linehan received a medical redshirt after playing only six games for the Friars in the 1999-2000 season, but that wound up being the least of that team’s problems. At the end of the season, the roster was decimated by suspensions and expulsions after a fight following a bar room altercation. Two of the freshmen from that team who continued on with the PC program also wound up losing entire seasons to medical redshirt injuries. Rome Augustine played in only five games during the 2001-2002 season before missing the rest of the year, and Abdul Mills sat out the entire 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.
When healthy, Linehan (a redshirt junior), Augustin and Mills (both sophomores) were all critical members of the Friars’ surprising 2001 NCAA Tournament season, with Linehan eventually going on to breaking the NCAA’s career record for steals, but the trio would never play a full season together after the tournament run. Unfortunate, as Ryan Gomes joined the team the year after they made it to the NCAA Tournament.
These are just a few examples of how the injury bug has affected the Friar program in recent years. Through all this adversity the one thing Friar fans have become is resilient. It’s a trait that will seemingly serve them well once again in 2012-13.
Email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org