A New Outlook

It was halftime of the Longwood game and I was watching a halftime show that featured martial arts students ages 5 to 30 doing a lip sync/demonstration to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" when I thought to myself, "This might be the most exciting thing I have seen all night."

Coming off of a 30 point beating at the hands of Florida State and playing an uninspired first half against Longwood I was left wondering if the fiery team we saw against Rhode Island and Boston College had gone the way of the 2004 squad which lost their intensity along the way and stumbled all the way home.

The building was painfully quiet, we were awaiting official word on how long Sharaud Curry might be out, and it looked like a season that started with a decent amount of promise was in jeopardy.

How quickly things can change.

By the end of the week, Providence had upset the # 15 team in the country, received word that Curry would return against Louisville, blew out Seton Hall while celebrating the school's most legendary coaches, and discovered that Dwain Williams is more than capable of spelling the starting point guard once he returned.

Yes, this is the same Dwain Williams Tim Welsh signed as classes were on the verge of beginning. In early January we are speculating about Providence's tournament chances, when just five months ago the direction of this program was in question.

You remember last summer. Rhode Island prep stud Rakim Sanders chose Boston College over the Friars, a team he had apparently dreamed of playing for his whole life. Corey Lowe headed to Boston University after alleging that Welsh and his staff pulled his scholarship. A replacement, Brian Rudolph, was found and quickly lost as he was charged with stabbing another kid at a party. Oh yeah, the Friars were also coming off of back to back losing seasons.

Ask any Friar fan what they expected PC's record to be on January 10 and few would have guessed 12-3. Tell them that Randall Hanke would be lost for the season, Curry for four games, including the first two in the Big East, and throw in a loss to Brown and most fans would have hoped to .500.

This Friars team has remained resilient though. Hanke goes down, Herb Hill kicks off the Big East season as the conference's player of the week. Curry is out, Williams gives them 38 minutes per game in two convincing conference victories (with a little help from Geoff McDermott, the Big East's leader in assists and rebounds).

Too often in the past two years the Friars were pushed and never pushed back. This team will not be pushed around. You see it when McDermott rips down a ball in traffic, Jon Kale pounds the floor at center court after a drubbing of URI, Weyinmi Efejuku takes it upon himself to get Sean Williams in foul trouble, and Hill begs for the ball and scores at will against Marquette and Seton Hall.

The rollercoaster ride we've been on since last summer will certainly have more dips as this team learns what it takes to win in the grueling Big East, but that is the most exciting part of it all. This team is just learning how to win. This team is way ahead of schedule and while we will all be counting down wins needed to get into the NCAA Tournament, take a moment every once in a while to remember five short months ago when this team, this coach and this program looked as though they needed every ounce of resiliency they could find.

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