Friar Basketball

Another Look: PC vs. Penn State ’01 NCAA Tourney

Linehan vs. SJU

It’s impossible to truly appreciate how unlikely Providence’s 2001 NCAA tournament appearance was without looking back on where the program stood in the spring of 2000.

The Friars wrapped up the 1999-2000 campaign at 11-19 overall and 4-12 in the Big East. They lost their season opener to Holy Cross after scoring just 43 points, and later fell to Central Connecticut State.

They won their first conference game, then proceeded to drop the next 10.

Providence’s problems that year were centered around the loss of point guard John Linehan, who played in just six games before missing the rest of the year following three surgeries to repair a hernia.

First team All Big East performer Jamel Thomas graduated a year prior, sharpshooter Sean Connolly transferred to Ohio State, and a massive recruiting class made no impact in its first year.

What hurt the 2000 Friars’ recruiting class most was the underperformance of junior college transfers Donta Wade and David Murray. Both came in with huge reputations and neither found consistency. Wade was said to be a terrific scorer and shooter at off-guard who averaged over 18 points per game prior to coming to PC. The 6’11 Murray was one of the top junior college big men in the country. A third JUCO transfer, combo guard Chris Rogers, struggled in his first season at PC.

A four man freshman class resulted in just two keepers, shooting guard Abdul Mills and wing Rome Augustin. Both had their moments, but neither found consistency as freshmen.

Florida State transfer center Karim Shabazz brought hope in December. He was eligible mid-year and had an immediate impact, as PC knocked off Arkansas just before Christmas behind his 18 point, nine rebound, and three block debut.

In just his second game as a Friar, Shabazz had a 25 point, 15 rebound, 10 block triple double against Long Island. His impact wasn’t enough to overcome a team playing without a point guard, however.

PC shot .304 from 3 (287th in the country) and ranked 276th nationally in points per game.

Ultimately, incorporating eight newcomers, while losing Linehan proved to be too much to overcome.

The offseason was uglier than what transpired on the court, as several players were accused of assault after an incident off-campus that resulted in the dismissal of Wade, Murray, and guard Jamal Camaah. Two of the four freshman transferred, leaving head coach Tim Welsh with both a messy situation to clean up after, and the challenge of filling out his roster late in the spring of 2000.

As a student at the time, I remember the assault having a resounding impact on campus.

Welsh’s comments to the New York Times that spring reflect what a PR nightmare the program was facing, “Providence College basketball has been around for many, many years,” Welsh said. ”This was an unfortunate incident. We all have to learn from it and move forward. But the program is not going to go under because of something that happened in 10 minutes.’’

”I’m more determined than ever,” he said. ”We’re faced with this and now we have to figure a way out. It’s not something I’m just saying to you, I truly believe it. It’s not like we’re coming off a Final Four year. I like the kids coming back. I’m not saying it’s going to be a great time.”

Starting Fresh

The 2000-01 Friars returned six scholarship players and welcomed four freshmen. 6’6 forward Erron Maxey, coming off of a 14.8 point/8.0 rebound junior season, and Shabazz (10.4 points, 8.2 rebounds) would man the frontcourt.

The hope was that Linehan could return healthy and PC could get a sophomore leap from Mills and Augustine. Rogers (3 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds per a game) entered his second season with more modest expectations.

Things couldn’t have fallen into place more perfectly for Welsh in 2001.

Linehan didn’t just return, but he came back improved. He won Big East Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East, and turned himself into a 40% 3-point shooter after being dared to shoot earlier in his career.

Maxey and Shabazz provided frontcourt stability.

Mills and Augustin both took huge sophomore leaps. Augustin upped his 3-point percentage from 29% as a freshman to 40% as a sophomore. Mills was the team’s second leading scorer playing alongside Linehan — and the duo combined for nearly five steals a night. Mills also bumped his 3-point percentage to nearly 36% after hovering around 30 the year prior.

Rogers became the perfect backup point guard, shooting over 40% from 3, 81% at the free throw line, defending well, and rarely turning the ball over.

Even more surprising was what Welsh got out of his freshmen. 6’3 guard Sheiku Kabba set a program high (regardless of class) by making .465 from deep. European imports Maris Laksa and Chris Anrin were spring signees who shot the lights out. The 6’9 Laksa made 45%, Anrin 36% from 3.

PC signed Marcus Douthit away from Villanova and Syracuse and he contributed right away, blocking 1.6 shots in 15 minutes a night. The rangy 6’11 center gave Welsh tremendous length at center backing up Shabazz.

Linehan hounded guards for 90 feet, while Shabazz and Douthit protected the rim. With Douthit and the 7’2 Shabazz roaming the paint Providence ranked 16th in the country in blocked shots. Behind Linehan and Mills they were 23rd in steals.

What couldn’t have been foreseen was the offensive improvement in just a year.

The offensively inept Friars of 2000 turned into a group that shot over 40% from 3 as a team (12th in the country). No one on the 2001 Friars averaged over 12 points per game, but six players scored more than eight.

Digging into the 2001 season

The 2000-01 season was certainly an odd one for the Big East. The league saw Providence go from 4-12 in conference to 11-5, while Boston College went from last place in the league to first overall behind the extraordinary year of point guard Troy Bell.

Five Big East teams made the NCAA tournament, with BC a three seed, Georgetown a ten, PC a ten, Syracuse a five, and Notre Dame a six.

How upside down was the Big East in 2001? Syracuse and UConn played in the first round of the Big East Tournament for the right to play PC.

Providence’s 10 seed felt like a slap at the program, considering the Friars finished tied for second in the league. Early season losses to Maine at home, and then Creighton (Kyle Korver knocked down five 3s) and Auburn (Marquis Daniels) didn’t help PC’s cause. Providence was without Linehan during their 2-3 start to the season, however. He injured his hamstring in the opener against Holy Cross.

Linehan returned with 17 points in a 95-72 drubbing of URI that set the tone for the remainder of the season. Shabazz 10 blocked shots on that night. That win was the second of a seven game winning streak that included victories at UMass, versus South Carolina, and hanging 110 points on Brown behind 22 points and 11 boards from Douthit, earning him Big East Rookie of the Week.

After a 2-2 start in conference play (including a win over Caron Butler-led UConn), Providence ripped off five wins in a row, highlighted by Linehan frustrating McDonald’s All American point guard Omar Cook so badly that he took a low blow at Kabba in the second half that send the Civic Center into an uproar.

Two games later, the Friars hung 103 points on #15 Georgetown in one of the biggest offensive night’s in program history. PC became the first team to score 100 against the Hoyas in a Big East game behind a 61 point first half that saw Linehan go for 11 points, seven assists, and four steals by the break. PC shot 9-12 from 3 in the first half, and got monster nights from Shabazz (22 points, 11 boards), Linehan (18/10/6 steals, 4-4 from 3), and Mills (5-5 from deep).

The balance of the 2001 Friars was on full display in a 119 point outburst against Binghamton in which no Friar scored more than 17 points, as PC shot 14-21 from 3-point range.

Providence had a chance to win the Big East regular season title, and needed a win over #10 BC in the home finale to do so. The Friars, ranked 25th, trailed by seven with 1:07 to play, but had the ball down a point on the game’s final possession. Augustin scooped up a loose ball and put up a 15 footer at the buzzer that was on line, but hit the back rim in front of a truly wild Civic Center crowd.

BC finished the season 13-3 in the Big East — two games ahead of the Friars.

PC fell 55-54 to #17 Syracuse in the Big East Tournament. This game was marked by a 19-0 Syracuse run in the first half, with Providence racing back in the second. The Friars ripped off an 11-0 run out of halftime. PC went 0-10 from 3 in the first half, but made eight in the second, as Rogers knocked one down with over eight minutes to play to give them the lead. Laksa missed a deep 3-pointer with PC down three that would have tied it in the closing seconds.

Penn State Awaits

Friar fans liked this 7/10 matchup. Penn State was 21-12 on the season, but just 7-9 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions did boast wins over #6 Illinois and an upset of #2 Michigan State in their conference tournament, but they had also lost to Illinois by 32 earlier in the year, and were trounced twice by MSU in the regular season.

Penn State shot a ton of threes, and PC had held opponents to 29% shooting from deep all year. The highlight was Linehan defending Joe Crispin, a dead-eye 3-pointer shooter who averaged nearly 20 points per game. The Lions were dangerous because of their experience. Titus Ivory was a solid senior scorer, while fellow senior Gyasi Cline-Heard (16 points, eight rebounds per game) was a bigger version of Maxey, yet nowhere near as large as Shabazz or Douthit.

What stood out:

  • Jim Nantz and Billy Packer were on the call. So many college hoops fans found Packer obnoxious, but his breakdown of how and why Linehan was such a great defender was top notch.
  • Ed Cooley would have loved Erron Maxey’s game. Maxey came to PC with a pretty good rep out of California, but was forced to play center his first two years at Providence. The additions of Shabazz and Douthit moved him to an undersized four role where he excelled. He and Shabazz were the Friars’ most consistent offensive weapons against a smaller Penn State group. Maxey hit mid-range jumpers and finished at the rim in this one. He was called for a tough offensive foul with about six minutes to go that really swung the game. He threw down an incredible dunk, but it was overturned.
  • Mills was such a beauty in the eye of the beholder type. He could be electric offensively and scored with ease, but turnover issues plagued him. Both Mills and Augustin were great as sophomores, however. They both defended and scored. It’s a shame their careers ended early.
  • PC trailed 23-13 midway through the first half and had trouble locating Penn State shooters beyond the arc. The Friars then went on a 17-2 surge to pull ahead, capped by a Mills drive. Packer insisted that Mills was the X-factor for the second time after his bucket.
  • Shabazz was killing Penn State in the first half on second chance opportunities. Packer noted how offensive rebounding was not a strength for the Friars. Foul trouble limited him in the second half.
  • Penn State controlled the first ten minutes of the second half, before PC cut a 10 point lead to six on a Maxey layup. Penn State countered with a three that Packer called a bad shot before it ripped through the net early in the shot clock. Killer shot.
  • PC trailed by 11 with six minutes left. Shabazz hit a foul line jumper to cut it nine, and then the offensive foul call on Maxey’s dunk all but ended it. A dunk and free throw would have cut the lead to six with 5:17 remaining.
  • The lead stood at 62-55 with 1:50 left when Providence called a timeout. Their out of bounds play resulted in a 3-point attempt from Anrin that missed badly and the game was over at that point. Packer was all over the play call.
  • This was a huge lost opportunity for PC. Penn State went on to beat sixth seeded North Carolina in the next round. UNC wasn’t great that year, as they were led by freshman Joe Forte and center Brendan Haywood. They also had a power forward by the name of Julius Peppers. Penn State fell to Temple in the Sweet 16.
  • As for the Big East, Boston College lost in the second round to Brian Scalabrine and USC. Notre Dame knocked off Xavier before falling to Ole Miss. Syracuse beat Hawaii then fell to Kansas, while Georgetown advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Maryland.
  • Duke, led by Shane Battier, Jay Williams, and Mike Dunleavy won the national title, knocking off Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton and Arizona in the final. Battier was named national defensive player of the year by most publications over Linehan, which irked this writer.

5 Comments

  1. John b

    March 30, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    “How upside down was the Big East in 2001? Syracuse and UCONN played in the first round of the Big East tournament for the right to play PC.”

    Great stuff, Kevin. Thanks.

  2. Derec Lamendola

    April 2, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday And We Need TO Play Ugen and is Time To play ugen and i jus wont The Providence College Mens Basketball To play ugen and is time to geting reday providnece college Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday For This Seoasn and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Be Reday you Know i Meen Providence College Mens Basketball needs To Win Nether BIG East tournament and Now So Get Reday

    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday For This seoasn Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting PUMT UP For This UP Coming UP Soeasn All Reday you Know i Meen PC Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday For The BIG Seoasn this is going Nate Waston BIG Senior Year and IS Time To Geting Reday You Know i Meen and Lets Get All FERD UP Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Get All PUMT UP

    Providence College Mens Basketball
    PC Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday For Thery Seoasn and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday This IS Nate Waston his BIG Senior Year and Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Playing Ugen AT PC Games

    Procidnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO Being Reday and I think that Providence College Mens Basketball Shrd Geting reday for thery seoasn Providence College Mens Basketball has to geting Reday For This soeasn Providence College Mens Basketball needs To Get Reday

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO geting Reday And i So Nate Waston Tonight and Providence College Mens Basketball Nate Waston Was Doing Putch UPS AT His House and Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Geting Reday You Know i Meen Providence college Mens Basketball.

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Play Ugen and i Jus Wont Providence College Mens Basketball To Play ugen This Year ugem Nate Waston has GOT TO
    Play ugen This Spring and lets Get Reday

    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs to Playing And Geting Reday providnece College Mens Basketball Geting Reday Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To geting Reday Providnece College Mens Basketball Basketball providnece Collge Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Friar Basketball Needs To Step IT UP More and More and We Got Have TO Win And i Wont The Providence College Mens Basketball Needs to playing ugen this Spring geting Reday providnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday sownds Good Every One

  3. Derec Lamendola

    April 3, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs to get reday For Next Seoasn And Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday providnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday Thing Omg Derec Lamendola Got Out Side is about Time and So i am going To Say something and im am The Governor and So Derec Lamendola Is Going Say something to All Providence College Mens Basketball I Wont Moley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games I Love Molley Oberin she is so Cute and i Jus Love Hear So Much that Molley Oberin and i Wont Moley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs A New Team and This is Going to Be Going On with Gina Raimondo and i Think Is so Get That Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday for Nether Seoasn All and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday and Geting Reday. Providence Colege Mens Basketball Needs TO win The BIG East tournament this Year ugen

    Providence College Mens Basketball
    PC Mens Basketball Friar Basketball Needs TO Win This Year and This All Seoasn Needs To Geting Reday and i Wont Moley Oberin Come All The Providence Colllege Mens Basketba Games This Year And now is Time To Siwsh it UP Now and We Are Reday
    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs Black Guays And Providence College Mens Basketball Needs All Black Guays And We Need A Tol Gauys Come To Providence College Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Win All The Away And Sownds Good and i Wont Molley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games and i wont Invtied Molley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games Swonds Good Jus Let Molley Oberin Talk Avout Derec Lamendola

  4. Derec Lamendola

    April 3, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Every One This is Derec Lamendola i Jus Wont Say something to All Friar Town and Get Reday Fkr This UP Coming Seoasn and i Wont Molley Obiern come to The Providence College Mens Basketball games This Year and I Love Molley Oberin and
    Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Win Ugen and Geting Reday and Be All FERD UP Providence College Mens Basketball Has TO Looking Good and i Wont Providence College Mens Basketball to Play Ugen This Year This Spring And Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Keeping Wing
    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Start Keeping Wing And Geting Reday and Derec Lamendola Watch Molley Oberin and i Wont Molley Oberin Come All The Providence College Mens Basketball Games This Year i Wont Providence College Mens Basketball keeping Win

    Providence College Mens Basketball
    PC Mens Basketball Friar Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Keeeping Wing amd Doing Good Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Keeeping Wing Thery Gsmes And You Know I Meen and We Need Ed Cooley Back On Twiter and I Wont PC Mens Basketball Be Back on Twiter and Providence College Mens Basketball Shrd Get BIGER Guays Told Gauys Transfer College Alot Of Them to Transfer To Providence College Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Friar Basketball i Wont Moley Oberin Say Something about Providence College Mens Basketball and Say im am Coming This Year To All The Providence College Mens Basketball Games With MY Man Derec Lamendola

    Providence College Mens Basketball
    PC Mens Basketball Win Your BIG East tournament This Year And Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Win The BIG tournament and Then NCAA tournament To Has Well TO

    Providnece College Mens Basketball has To Win And Do your JOB And Start Geting Reday and Get
    All Reday Providence College Mens Basketball Needs to get going Now

    Providence College Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball Moley Oberin Has TO Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games With Derec Lamendola i Think I Say Starting This Weekend i Wont Molley Oberin To Be On Tv Ugen On Live Tommerrrow so we Can see hear Molley Oberin and geting Reday TO GO You Know i Meen Come On Plerys

    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday and Monday Tueaday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday I Wont Molley Oberin To Be on Tv To Talk to about Derec Lamendola on The Tv Providence College Mens Basketball Dan Jaehing Patrice Wood Frnak Carpano and Lets Get Reday

    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs to Geting Reday
    For Next Seoasn Providence College Mens Basketball Needs to Get Reday And Geting Reday prvidnence College Mens Basketball Needs To Do something and Geting Reday For the BIG Soeasn Providence
    College Mens Basketball Needs All New Tol Guays To Transfer and We Need All New All Black Guays And We Need Every One To Come To Providence College Mens Basketball have Full Team This Year

  5. Derec Lamendola

    April 4, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Derec Lamendola DiD Something Jus Now and Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Be Back Ugen This Spring and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Get Reday and
    Providence College College Mens Basketball Needs To Get Back and Play Ugen This Spring Time You Know

    Providence College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Needs To Get Reday For This UP Coming Seoasn And i DiD Something For Nate Waston Jus Now and i DiD Something i Shrd Do and Post to Do and i DiD Something and So Geting Reday And Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO
    Get Reday for This And Geting Reeday
    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday And I Wont Molley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games This Seoasn This Year and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday For This Seoasn Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday And Derec Lamendola is NOT Working For a Long Time Now and that i hard something About Providence College Mens Basketball Thery Need To Win This BIG East tournament Nether Soeasn This UP Coming Seoasn you Know i Meen Now

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday and The Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Win Alot BIG East Teams coning Up You Know i Meen you Know i Meen Providence College Mens Basketball Get Reday

    Providence College Mens Basketball

    Providence College Mens Basketball

    PC Mens Basketball Needs To Get Roling Now and This Spring and i Wont Providence College Mens Basketball To Playing Ugen This Spring and Geting reday

    Providnece College Mens Basketball

    PC Mens Basketball Geting Reday For This UP Coming Seossn All Reday Now

    Nate Waston Derec Lamendola What up
    And is Been To Long And Nate Waston i So You AT Your One House You Weere Doing Something And thats you Shrd be Doing and About Nate Waston Swish UP Make Look Like Like Different like something he got to do for his Working out you Know and

    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs to get reday Providence College Mens Basketball Needs TO Geting Reday
    Providnece College Mens Basketball Needs To Geting Reday For This Spring Time Soeasn All Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs To Fix That Dunk Alot Hands Full and Get That Reday and Providence College Mens Basketball Has To Stay Same The Team Locker Room and i Wont Derec Lamendola To GO In The Team Locker Room Nate Waston Senior Year His Last Senior Year and His Inpoitrn Senior Year Geting Going

    Providence College Mens Basketball Needs Molley Oberin Come To The Providence College Mens Basketball Games And We Need Moley Oberin Come To The Friars Games With US And im am Geting Molley Oberin in Are Providence College Mens Basketball Crew i Am Geting Molley Oberin in The PC Crew with US and thats im am doing

    Providnece College Mens Basketball PC Mens Basketball Needs To Get More And More And Get UP On Keeeping Wing Sterk and Providence College Mens Basketball Needs Alot TOL Guays This Year And Providence College Mens Basketball Needs A ALOT TOLER Guays Come to Providence College Mens Basketball See you tonight Every One

You must be logged in to post a comment Login