Friar Basketball

Where are the Students?


Prior to the season Providence College was picked to finish sixth in the new ten team Big East. Sixth.

That selection, by the conference coaches, came with the assumption that PC would have a healthy Kris Dunn as well as freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock. Well… that assumption was wrong. Austin has already made Oregon his new home, Dunn sits on the bench with a shoulder sling, and Bullock won’t be eligible until next year.

Everything seemed all too familiar for a Providence fan base that has experienced this type of thing before. Just a few weeks ago it looked as though we were amidst yet another lost year. That all changed when the Friars began a five game assault of Georgetown, St. John’s, Creighton, Butler and most recently Xavier yesterday afternoon.

PC now sits in third place in the Big East Conference and just one and half ¬†games back of Creighton. The Friars are rolling and as Ted Bancroft tweeted out Saturday afternoon, “It’s not too late to hop on the Friar bandwagon… all are welcome.”

All may be welcome but not all are looking for the invitation, most notably… the students.

This issue is nothing new for Providence. For the better part of the last decade, getting students to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center has seemed nearly impossible, with the exception of major games against ranked teams. The school has tried giving out prizes like an Xbox or an iPad to incentivize attendance. They’ve tried a reward system, T-shirt giveaways, and tailgates, nothing works. The fall back answer has always been – when we win the students will show up. Well?

On an afternoon which featured the opportunity for PC to cap off a sweep of the three newest Big East members, the student section could have been mistaken for a Sunday afternoon at Phillips Memorial Library. The Friars are 15-5 and are beginning to gain the attention of many in the national media. Still though, no students.

Perhaps a noon start after a late Friday night on Eaton St. kept the students from getting to the Dunk’ to support their school, but if that’s the case, what kind of fans are they really? Maybe Fox Sports 1’s complete coverage of Big East basketball, makes it easier for students to decide to just stay home and watch on TV, that I don’t know. What I do know is that they are missing something that has the potential to be special.

The 2003-04 season was the last time the Friars won five consecutive league games. That was also the last time PC reached the NCAA Tournament. In ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s last projection, he slotted the Friars into the Big Dance with a 12 seed. In Providence’s eleven remaining games, four will be played at the Dunk’.

So to the students that either haven’t been paying attention or haven’t taken advantage of the free shuttle service too and from campus, take this as wake up call.

Ed Cooley is well on his way to earning Big East Coach of the Year and PC now has a legit chance for making the tournament come March. If studying or homework is an excuse for not making it to a game, plan accordingly. Finding time outside of the two to three hour window of which a game takes, is not that difficult. This team thrives off of a loud and enthusiastic crowd, no different than any other school at the Division I level, so come out and support them.

Also, imagine this for a minute. You are back in high school and you have the opportunity to play Division I basketball. You are hearing from a handful of schools and you are touring each one of them, much like you did before you chose to attend Providence. You visit Boston College for a game against Virginia Tech and Conte Forum is dead. You spend a day at UConn and the Hartford Civic Center is empty for a matchup with South Florida. Then Ed Cooley brings you into the Dunk’. It’s deafening and every student is yelling at the top of their lungs. That’s the type of place you want to play at.

Your support at home games extends further than just the current team, it can help in recruiting too. Lets not forget that.

If and when you do come, don’t just sit in your seat the whole game. A student section is meant for standing. Here are a few ideas that could really raise the energy level at the Dunk’:

Four years at PC isn’t an eternity, it goes by way too fast. Don’t let excuses keep you from cheering on a Friars team that could use your help. Not sure why anybody wouldn’t want to watch Bryce Cotton every time he steps on the floor. There are a million and half reasons to go to games, so many that I can’t list them all. But for Ed Cooley, the players and for Providence College’s sake, come out in full force on February 4th. You won’t regret it.

Email Craig Belhumeur –
Craig on Twitter – @Craig_Belhumeur

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