OK, it wasn't quite the Rick Pitino revival show that enthralled PC fans in 1985, but it was pretty damn close. An impressive crowd of fans and family members turned out to witness the ushering in of a new era in Providence basketball, including the Mayor of Providence, Angel Tavares and the Mayor of Cranston, Allan Fung.
But Rev. Brian Shanley, noting the dignitaries present, put it best when he remarked, "As you can see, this is a connected guy. This coach needs to be the Mayor of the city." Shanley went on to describe what he wanted in a basketball coach at PC.
"When Bob (Driscoll) and I sat down two things were foremost in my mind," Father Shanley said. "The most important thing was, what was best for our student-athletes? Our coach needed to be a mentor. The game of life is more important than the game of basketball, that's first and foremost. Second, we wanted a relationship builder. His ability to connect is what sets him apart."
"We're bringing one of our own back home," Shanley continued. "I'm from Rhode Island and sometimes this is my dream job. We're bringing Ed home to his dream job. And know this – this was the first choice of PC. We all agreed that the number one candidate is Ed Cooley."
Director of Athletics Bob Driscoll was even more detailed in the process that brought Cooley back home. "I learned a lot from the last search and saw the mistakes that we made," said Driscoll. "The first person we talked about was getting Mike Tranghese involved. Myself, Father Shanley, Mike and Carl LaBranche sat down and came up with our own top five lists and all of our top fives were the same. Everyone's number one person was Ed Cooley."
"I wanted someone who was a teacher, a mentor and a coach," Driscoll continued. "Someone whose attitude was, how you do anything is how you do everything. Someone who understood the culture of Providence College. A small, Catholic college with values, competing in the toughest conference in America. I wanted a man who understood that passion, someone who had built something out of nothing. His players love him and respect him and look at him as a father figure. That was very important to us."
Clearly, Ed Cooley was the number one choice of everyone involved in the search, and all were patient to wait for his season to end before making any moves. When Cooley stepped to the podium, he wasted no time showing why. He spoke with emotion and he spoke with passion.
"Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to come home. Home means everything to me," Cooley began. "I fit here. This is going to be a marriage made in heaven that's going to last a long, long time. I'm not running from Fairfield University. I'm sprinting home."
"Not only do I believe we're going to win here, we're going to win and win big. Make sure you have a ticket as we go through this ride. We want to become the most dominant, most physical, most disciplined team in the league every year. This is OUR program. It's not my program, it's not Father Shanley's or Bob Driscoll's program. This is our program. We will set this place on fire," Cooley said, gesturing to the crowd.
Pointing to the players assembled, Cooley addressed them. "You will be the example. You will be the role models. People will want to be Providence College basketball players. I wanted to play for Providence. I wasn't good enough. It's a privilege to play college basketball. It's not a given. You show up late, don't come in."
"There'll be a treadmill in the gym in our practices," Cooley continued. "I call that our focus machine. That's the great focus machine. If players can't focus in practice, they'll be spending time on the focus machine. We'll get this done. We're going to stand on top of the conference one day."
Afterward, alone with the media, Cooley went on to say, "They can have me for as long as they want." He was asked about other big jobs that were available and might have come his way. "The best job is where I'm standing. The biggest job on the table was Providence College. I told my agents I only wanted to hear from one school. If they call, let me know," Cooley answered.
Asked about his playing style, Cooley responded, "Right now, we need a winning style. We will defend people. I literally get sick when somebody scores on my team. We were number two in the country in defense. Not good enough. We need to be number one."
"We will have a competitive staff," Cooley said. "A couple of our assistants will come, I'll hire one or two others, Blaney will fill one of the non-recruiting slots. We left Fairfield with a Top 25 team. Right now, I'm dying to meet with and connect with my new players."
As Bilal Dixon remarked on the way out of the gym, "I can't wait." That echoed the sentiments of the fans present, who appreciated the tough, no-nonsense approach of the new coach. PC fans may be in for a treat.
Cooley Meets The Fans And Media
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