Providence fans have long debated over who the best coach was, who the best point guard was, what the best team was. With a tradition steeped in success and rich in glory, these debates can be at times fun, frustrating and endless.
In an attempt to settle the question of the best PC team ever, Friar Insider decided that now would be a good time to hold the first-ever Tournament of Champions, with a sixteen team field.
Having seen every Friar team, either in person or on film, since 1955-56, the first step was to rank the top sixteen teams. Not an easy task. Several very good PC squads just missed the cut… the 1988-89 team, the 1992-93 team, and the 1966-67 team all missed cracking the top sixteen. Once sixteen teams were identified, they were seeded, based on (in no particular order) record, accomplishments, reputation, players, results, styles of play, statistics and a number of other factors.
Results of games in this Tournament are strictly based on the first hand knowledge and observations and the wild imagination of the author. This is intended to be a fun exersise, one that will, by its very nature, create debate and disagreement, and is, in no way, intended to be scientific in its results. It is, however, based on some pretty informed and well reasoned imaginings by a diehard PC history buff, who has spent a whole lot of time thinking about how a tournament like this would turn out. So enjoy and feel free to debate away…
Without further ado, here are the seedings, the first round match-ups, and the rosters and summaries of each of the teams (season scoring/rebounding averages are in parenthesis):
(1) 1972-73 vs. (16) 1965-66
1972-73 roster: Ernie DiGregorio (24.6/3.2), Marvin Barnes (18.3/19.0), Kevin Stacom (17.8/3.9), Francis Costello (9.1/4.8), Nehru King (8.7/3.7), Charles Crawford (5.5/6.1), Ron Norwood (2.6/1.1), Al Baker (2.5/2.5), Richard Dunphy (2.5/1.1), Dave Modest (1.8/0.3), Mark McAndrew (1.3/1.1), Gary Bello (1.1/0.4), Tom Walters (1.0/1.3)
Season: The '73 Friars finished 27-4 and ranked fourth in the polls. Providence was led by an All-American threesome of DiGregorio, Barnes and Stacom, and reeled off seventeen straight wins which landed PC in its first ever NCAA Final Four. Many feel that PC would have advanced to the championship game and had a chance to win it all had Marvin not injured a knee in the first half of the semifinal game against Memphis. The Friars knocked off seven ranked teams and this was the highest scoring PC team ever, at nearly 90 ppg.
1965-66 roster: James Walker (24.5/6.7), James Benedict (16.5/4.5), William Blair (12.8/6.3), Michael Riordan (10.3/9.1), Robert Kovalski (5.2/4.7), William Lasher (4.4/4.1), Peter McLaughlin (2.6/1.0), William Barrett (2.3/1.3), Steve Sarantopoulos (1.9/0.5), Donal Henderson (1.3/1.6)
Season: The '66 Friars finished 22-5 and bowed in the first round of the NCAAs. This team desperately missed its big man from the year before, Dexter Westbrook, but juniors Walker, Riordan teamed with seniors Benedict and Blair to make PC a competitive team. Ranked as high as third in the polls, and holding off Boston College as the best team in New England, PC finished 10th in the writer's poll after a few late season losses.
(2) 1964-65 vs. (15) 2000-01
1964-65 roster: James Walker (20.6/6.1), James Benedict (14.4/4.6), Dexter Westbrook (14.4/12.1), William Blair (13.6/7.4), Michael Riordan (9.2/6.7), William Lasher (3.0/2.2), James Ahern (2.8/2.1), Peter McLaughlin (2.2/0.5), David Turbridy (2.2/0), Donald Dutton (220.127.116.11), Steve Sarantopolos (1.4/0.6), William Barrett (1.2/0), James Schessler 1.0/0), James Cox (1/0/0), Noel Kinski (0.9/0)
Season: This powerful squad finished 24-2 and fourth in the polls. The young but talented Friars started the season 19-0 before falling to Villanova. Led by supersophs Walker, Westbrook and Riordan, the Friars raced through their schedule, maintained their stranglehold on New England basketball, and knocked off third ranked St. Joseph's in the NCAAs. In the regional final, PC was shocked by Bill Bradley and Princeton, who walloped the Friars by forty. Still, at the time the feeling was that if PC could return everybody, a national championship could be theirs the following year.
2000-01 roster: Erron Maxey (11.4/6.4), Abdul Mills (10.9/3.0), John Linehan (10.7/2.4), Romuald Augustin (9.2/2.7), Maris Laksa (9.0/3.2), Karim Shabazz (8.9/7.4), Christopher Anrin (5.8/1.7), Marcus Douthit (5.4/4.0), Sheiku Kabba (4.6/1.5), Chris Rogers (2.5/1.6), Kareem Hayletts (1.1/0.3), Brian Schnurr (1.0/0), Stephen Traugott (1.0/0.3)
Season: The Friars finished 21-10 and cracked the Top 25 for one week. Without a dominant scorer, PC relied on balance, a tough defense, keyed by ballhawk Linehan and Shabazz, and some deadly outside shooting. The Friars may have peaked with a 103-79 thrashing of Georgetown in early February, and lost in the first round of the NCAAs to Penn State.
(3) 1962-63 vs. (14) 1971-72
1962-63 roster: Raymond Flynn (18.9/2.4), John Thompson (18.9/14.0), James Stone (14.5/8.2), Vincent Ernst (11.6/3.9), Robert Kovalski (9.5/9.3), Carl Spencer (3.9/2.9), Robert Simoni (2.3/2.4), Thomas Nyire (1.8/ 1.6), Donald Dutton (1.8/0.4), James Ahern (0.9/0.5), James Cox (0.4/0), William Stein (0.4/0.4), Noel Kinski (0.4/0.6)
Season: Running a picture-perfect fast break, the '63 Friars ran to a 24-4 record, a #11 ranking and the NIT Championship. On January 29, the Friars had a respectable 9-4 record, but from that date on, PC finished the season on a 15-0 roll, including a sweep through the NIT. With balanced, fast paced scoring and a tough defense, Flynn and Ernst ended their careers with a flourish.
1971-72 roster: Marvin Barnes (21.6/15.7), Ernie DiGregorio (17.7/3.0), Donald Lewis (11.4/4.8), Francis Costello (9.7/4.8), Lawrence Ketvirtis (5.9/3.6), Nehru King (5.3/3.4), Charles Crawford (4.7/4.5), Robert Ollquist (4.1/0.9), Timothy Gilbride (0.8/0.2), Thomas Walters (0.6/0.3)
Season: Ranked as high as twelfth, the '72 Friars finished 21-6 and out of the rankings, but gave a sneak peek of what was to come with some impressive wins over ranked teams and a huge coming out party for Barnes, who had 34 rebounds and 12 blocks in his second game. PC bowed in the first round of the NCAAs, but this was a tough, if young, team.
(4) 1996-97 vs. (13) 2003-04
1996-97 roster: Austin Croshere (17.9/7.5), Derrick Brown (17.4/6.3), Jamel Thomas (14.0/5.1), God Shammgod (10.8/2.3), Ruben Garces (9.5/7.8), Jason Murdock (3.7/2.2), Corey Wright (3.3/1.9), Ndongo N'Diaye (0.7/1.9), Kofi Pointer (0.6/0.4), Abdul Brown (0.9/1.6), Mark Adams (0.3/0.0), Rick Cordella (0.1/0.2), Dennis Cleary (0.1/0.1)
Season: Team Dysfunction almost missed the NCAAs, but once they decided to play as one, they were as good as anyone in the country. Finishing 24-12 and 15th in the polls, the Friars were a missed jump shot away from the NCAA Final Four after thrilling wins over Marquette, Duke and Tennessee-Chattanooga. Croshere, Brown and Garces formed a formidable senior class and teams with sophs Shammgod and Thomas for a dynamite starting five.
2003-04 roster: Ryan Gomes (18.9/9.4), Rob Sanders (10.8/4.4), Sheiku Kabba (10.4/3.2), Donnie McGrath (10.0/1.8), Marcus Douthit (7.8/5.9), Tuukka Kotti (6.1/3.6), Dwight Brewington (5.7/2.5), Chris Anrin (3.0/0.7), Gerald Brown (2.0/0.6), Maris Laksa (1.8/0.3), Herbert Hill (1.0/0.7), Sean Van De Walle (1.0/0.3), Timothy Englert (0.8/0.0), Abdul Mills (0.5/0.0)
Season: The '04 Friars finished 20-9 and 21st in the polls. But what frustrated fans was a late season slide that saw PC drop its last four games and bow out of the first round of the NCAAs against Pacific. Before that slide, the Friars had looked capable of an NCAA run, with a tough 2-3 zone anchored by Douthit, All-American play by Gomes and athletic moves by Sanders.
(5) 1973-74 vs. (12) 1977-78
1973-74 roster: Marvin Barnes (22.1/18.7), Kevin Stacom (18.5/3.1), Bob Cooper (12.0/7.5), Joe Hassett (7.2/1.6), Gary Bello (7.2/1.8), Rick Santos (6.9/2.8), Mark McAndrew (6.5/6.2), Al Baker (3.2/2.3), Richard Dunphy (3.2/1.9), Bob Ollquist (2.5/0.4), Walt Edwards (2.5/4.0), Tim Gilbride (1.7/0.1), Chris Dixon (1.5/2.0), Tom Walters (0.9/0.6)
Season: The '74 squad is PC's winningest ever, at 28-4, and 6th in the polls. Led by Barnes, who led the nation in rebounding , and Stacom, the Friars were a high scoring bunch who nipped a number of teams on the schedule and raced all the way to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, where they ran into eventual champion North Carolina State. But add a small Italian point guard and there's no telling how that game would have turned out.
1977-78 roster: Bruce Campbell (17.4/7.8), Dwight Williams (16.4/2.6), Bill Eason (11.3/8.3), Bob Misevicius (8.5/7.5), Rudy Williams (4.4/2.6), Paul Oristaglio (3.6/2.6), Paul Aiello (3.1/0.8), David Frye (2.8/0.6), Rich Hunger (2.4/2.2), Pat Kehoe (2.3/2.0), Jerry Scott (2.0/0.8), John Nolan (1.7/0.6), Ernie DelGatto (1.2/2.8), Mladen Filipan (1.3/1.0), Joe Mullaney, Jr. (0.6/0.7)
Season: With a 24-8 mark, the Friars finished out of the rankings after rising as high as ninth. Led by seniors Campbell, Misevicius and Eason, PC recorded impressive wins over Louisville and North Carolina during the season, but four late losses, including an ECAC loss to URI and a first round NCAA loss to Magic Johnson and Michigan State put a damper on the season.
(6) 1986-87 vs. (11) 1959-60
1986-87 roster: Billy Donovan (20.6/3.0), Delray Brooks (14.4/3.9), Ernie Lewis (11.8/4.2), Dave Kipfer (11.7/5.3), Steve Wright (7.9/4.8), James Best (6.3/2.3), Darryl Wright (6.1/2.2), Carlton Screen (5.2/1.1), Marty Conlon (4.4..2.9), Abdul Shamsid-Deen (3.5/2.5), Jacek Duda (3.4/3.4), Bryan Benham (0.6/0.7), David Snedeker (0.3/0.3), Ryan Ford (0/0.1)
Season: The ultimate Cinderella team; PC finshed 25-9 and 6th in the final poll. An array of three point shooters, led by Donovan, Brooks and Lewis, along with a pressing, fouling defense propelled PC to performances well above their talent level. The Friars raced through five ranked teams, and UAB, Austin Peay, Alabama and Georgetown on the way to the school's second NCAA Final Four.
1959-60 roster: James Hadnot (14.8/16.3), Lenny Wilkens (14.2/7.1), John Egan (14.2/2.4), Richard Whelan (8.3/3.3), Tinothy Moynahan (7.0/3.7), John Woods (5.9/9.3), Richard Holzheimer (4.8/4.5), Robert Siembida (3.6/2.6), Dennis Guimares (2.6/1.1), Thomas Folliard (1.9/0.7), Thomas Nyire (1.8/2.8), Robert Gibson (0.8/1.6), John Hickey (0.4/1.1)
Season: The '60 squad may have been more talented than the '61 team that won the NIT. In '60, PC had Wilkens and finished 24-5 and 14th in the polls. Wilkens, Egan and Hadnot keyed a rush through #15 St. Louis and #7 Utah State in the NIT, and the Friars reached the final before falling to Chet Walker and Bradley. After their performance on the big stage, it would only be a matter of time before PC broke through and captured the NIT.
(7) 1976-77 vs. (10) 1989-90
1976-77 roster: Joe Hassett (18.8/3.1), Bob Cooper 15.9/7.5), Bruce Campbell (14.9/8.1), Dwight Williams (10.2/2.6), Bob Misevicius (8.2/8.0), Bill Eason (6.0/4.8), Pat Kehoe (3.1/1.8), Paul Oristaglio (2.4/0.8), Paul Aiello (2.0/3.3), David Frye (2.6/0.6), John Nolan (0.7/0.5), Peter Petropolous (0.7/0.6), Mark Heissenbuttel (0.4/0), Ken Woodson (0/0.6), Joe Mullaney, Jr. (0/0.2)
Season: The '77 team finished 24-5 and 15th in the polls. The Friars were led by seniors Hassett and Cooper, juniors Campbell, Misevicius and Eason and soph Williams on a very balanced team. PC fought Holy Cross all season for New England supremecy and was poised for a big NCAA run before losses in their final two games – to the Cross in the ECAC finals and Kansas State in the first round of the NCAAs.
1989-90 roster: Eric Murdock (15.4/4.1), Carlton Screen (15.1/2.2), Marty Conlon (14.7/7.6), Quinton Burton (11.1/5.4), Abdul Shamsid-Deen (8.4/7.3), Marques Bragg (5.7/4.0), Chris Watts (5.4/1.5), Greg Bent (4.4/1.5), Tony Turner (2.6/1.4), Marvin Saddler (2.3/2.0), Trent Forbes (1.6/0.6)
Season: This senior dominated team finished 17-12 and was unranked all season, but Conlon, Screen, Shamsid-Deen, Burton and junior Murdock had speed, muscle, athleticism and undeniable talent. This squad won for the first time at Syracuse, beat second ranked Georgetown and fought its way to the NCAAs on the basis of its tough league schedule. The Friars had Ohio State beat but fell in overtime in the first round of the NCAAs.
(8) 1960-61 vs. (9) 1993-94
1960-61 roster: James Hadnot (19.3/16.3), John Egan (18.8/2.4), Vincent Ernst (9.8/3.9), Raymond Flynn (5.8/1.3), George Zalucki (5.7/7.9), Timothy Moynahan (4.7/2.9), Carl Spencer (3.9/4.0), Dennis Guimares (18.104.22.168), Thomas Folliard (3.0/1.6), Richard Holzheimer (2.8/2.8), Richard Leonard (1.8/3.3)
Season: The '61 Friars capped a dream by winning the school's first NIT Championship. PC finished 24-5 and was as high as ninth in the rankings but finished unranked. Led by senior Egan and junior Hadnot, this team was joined by sophs Ernst and Flynn, who helped to propel PC over the top in the NIT, beating 19th ranked Holy Cross in an overtime semifinal thriller and 14th ranked St. Louis in the final.
1993-94 roster: Eric Williams (15.7/5.0), Michael Smith (12.9/11.5), Franklin Western (12.8/7.4), Dickey Simpkins (11.8/6.3), Michael Brown (10.6/2.8), Rob Phelps (7.6/1.8), Austin Croshere (4.6/2.2), Abdul Abdullah (3.5/1.9), Maciej Zielinski (3.0/1.2), Jason Murdock (2.7/0.4), Tom Hall (1.6/1.4), Duffy McNulty (1.1/0.5)
Season: The '94 squad finished 20-10 and was never ranked, but captured the school's first Big East Tournament championship. PC used an eight game winning streak to race through the BET, including a win over second ranked Connecticut in the semifinals and a win over Georgetown in the final. Smith, Simpkins and Williams gave PC a physically imposing frontline while Abdullah ran the show. Despite winning the BET, PC was relegated to the dreaded 8-9 game, where they lost in the first round of the NCAAs to Alabama. In keeping with that slight, they find themselves in the 8-9 game in this tournament as well.
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