Kevin Farrahar's Friar Weekly

There was quite a contrast in the Friars two games this past week. Wednesday night against Seton Hall we were able to put into perspective just how great a career Ryan Gomes has had as he became only the sixth player in Big East history to record 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds while also breaking Jimmy Walker's all time scoring record at the college.

With Gomes' historic acheivements fresh in everyone's mind, freshman Randall Hanke let it be known that there will be life after Ryan Gomes.

There are usually not many positives to come out of a 25 point drubbing on national television, but Hanke's play was just that. The young center dominated the first half, blocking four shots, scoring 16 points, and reviving a Providence team that was on the ropes early on. Is it a coincidence that once Hanke left the game early in the second half it got quickly out of hand?

Simply put, this was a breath of fresh air to PC fans who have seen their team scored upon at will this season. The loss of Marcus Douthit has affected this year's team much moreso than anyone could have foreseen. For all of his flaws offensively, Douthit was a dominant shot blocker in the middle of Tim Welsh's 2-3 zone.

What Hanke did was give this team an attitude that it has lacked all season. Syracuse kept on challenging him and Hanke continued to turn them away. Hakim Warrick did provide a facial to stop Hanke's string of dominating defense, but a message had finally been sent by a Providence College Friar that the easy baskets inside needed to stop. We have been waiting all year for something like this.

When you combine that with his efficient play on the offensive end, Hanke's performance was the most encouraging of any young Friar since Dwight Brewington was on fire in Madison Square Garden back in November. Maybe these Friars will bounce back without Gomes next season.

Before we start thinking about next season, we cannot overlook what Gomes' numbers mean. One of the most under-recruited players heading into the Big East four years ago is now, at least statistically going to go down as one of the best players in conference history. Rankings mean so little because they do not take into account the willingness to work every day to improve yourself.

Ryan Gomes came to Providence has a back to the basket 6'7 power forward who could not even get off of the bench. By midway through his sophomore year he had started to flash a 15 foot jump shot to match his growing repetoire of post moves. By his junior year, he expanded that range out to the three point line. Now he is pushing 40% from beyond the arc. The kid has not stopped improving.

It really is a shame that his final season in the Big East has gone so poorly. Most Big East fans will remember him as a good player, but never recognize how great he has been at Providence because the team has been so bad this year.

Providence fans will not forget though. They remember, or have at least heard of the Walk, they have seen him outplay Emeka Okafur, rack up 30 point games on his way to 2,000, and carry a team that at times was just too heavy for one player to lift. It is just a shame that it is going to end this way for a young man who has worked so hard, gotten so much better and deserves so much more.

The Upcoming Week:

Providence has a chance to pull itself out of the cellar of the Big East on Tuesday night and the guess here is that they will do so. It will be the final game ever for Ryan Gomes at The Dunk and there should be enough energy in the building to push this Friars team to a victory. Gomes is solid as always and McGrath bounces back in a big way.

PC wins 80-65

In the final game of their Big East schedule Providence has a chance to grab some momentum heading into the Big East tournament with a win over Georgetown. The Hoyas might be in a desperate situation come Saturday as there once solid tournament hopes are in limbo after losing three in a row and facing Connecticut before the finale.

The Hoyas pull this one out late as they have more to play for. Georgetown wins 68-63.

The One to Watch: Randall Hanke. Friar fans are hopeful that the effort against Syracuse will carry over, not just for the next couple of games, but into next season. For a fan base that is looking hard for reasons to be optimistic about 2005-06 a strong finish by Hanke would do wonders for the already weary Friar fanatics.

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