Friar fans may not have to wait until December to see Kentucky. The National InvitationTournament pairings were announced today with Providence getting a #4 seed and taking on #5 Charlotte at home on Wednesday night. The winner will most likely face the #1 seed, and clear glamour program of the tournament, Kentucky in a second round matchup.
Providence finished the year 17-14 behind a strong February and Ed Cooley was upbeat on Sunday night when talking about the upcoming NIT, “The fact that we were selected to the NIT is not disappointing. Am I disappointed that we didn’t get to the NCAAs? Absolutely, but you have to have perspective when developing a program piece by piece. I think we’re headed in the right direction from where we were a year ago, so we’re making progress.”
Friar fans were hoping that progress would lead to a late push for the NCAA Tournament, but a loss last weekend at Connecticut, followed by a poor showing in the second round of the Big East Tournament against Cincinnati took PC off of the bubble and into the NIT.
“We felt we had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them,” Cooley shared when talking about the past week. “But when you look at the big picture of where we were as a program, from being picked last to finishing really, really strong – that’s a credit to our players and their perseverance.”
Cooley noted that the coaching staff gave the team both Thursday and Friday off from practice following the Big East Tournament loss and they’ve rebounded well with two strong days of practice.
Charlotte finished their season 21-11 overall and 8-8 in the Atlantic 10. They started the season with nine consecutive victories before falling to Miami in mid-December for their first loss. The 49ers earned wins over NCAA teams in LaSalle and Butler, while also taking out Xavier and UMass.
“Charlotte is a big, physical team. They’re not a three point shooting team, so it’s going to look like a traditional Big East game because it’s going to be really, really physical,” Cooley explained.
From where Providence started this season, Cooley sounded positive about how the year unfolded and the direction the team is headed in, “We felt we’ve earned it. Playing in this brutal league finishing 9-9 and 7-2 down the stretch gave us an opportunity to play in the postseason. I’m really proud of our players. I think it’s an accomplishment for where our program is right now.”
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