“5 on 5” is a ten question interview with notable people in FRIARTOWN. We ask 5 basketball related questions and 5 off-topic ones.
John Rooke, aka the “Voice of the Friars”, was kind enough to take part in the first edition of “5 on 5” via email.
John Rooke is an award-winning broadcaster, currently serving in several broadcast capacities, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice for Providence College basketball; Big East Conference football and basketball play-by-play for ESPNU, ESPN Regional Television and the ISP Sports Network; stadium voice for the New England Patriots and New England Revolution; host for Inside the Big East on ESPNU and several regional sports networks and local TV stations; and talk host for the ESPN Radio Network and WEEI Radio in Boston.
Friarblog.com: Even though its still early and the Friars have played a lot of weaker competition, it looks like they are starting to show some improvement on defense. What do you think has been the most contributing factor so far, and will be as the season progresses?
John Rooke: I don’t know that there’s one contributing factor to the improved defense – I think it’s mostly that everyone that’s out there seems to have bought into what the Coach’s Davis have taught them. Chris Davis is in charge of the defense, primarily, and coupled with the substitution rotation, it allows the kids to give maximun effort over a short period of time…knowing that they’ll be back in there. New things just take time. It’s getting there. Marshon’s wingspan allows him (and the team) to do things they couldn’t last year, alot of it because he just wasn’t ready. Last year he was learning on the job…and it prepared him for this one pretty well.
Friarblog.com: Speaking of Marshon (who I totally support you in calling him by his first name ), you and Joe have said several times that he has been the best player on the court for the Friars. Did that surprise you, or did you see his potential in limited time last season?
John Rooke: His play has surprised me a little, only in that his outside shot has improved over last year. He really worked on it, and told us so. Now, he’s showing it. It really helps his confidence, in addition to his scoring threat…teams now have to play him tighter, which will only help him get to the hoop.
Friarblog.com: What drives you more nuts – missed free throws or missed bunnies?
John Rooke: Good question. Both. But FT’s are FREE, and uncontested. No excuses. A good team should be able to hit over 70% from the line, blindfolded. Hey, even I hit almost 80% of my FT’s in school.
Friarblog.com: The Friars are struggling from beyond the arc, particularly against tougher competition. Do you think most of the Friars have just been in a funk and will come out of it, or will the team generally not benefit taking 20+ three pointers a game (especially in Big East play).
John Rooke: I think this team has been hurt by both X and McK having slow starts, no question. Both can shoot, but as we’ve seen, both are streaky. At least ONE of them will need to find some consistency before too long, in order for the team to be competitive in the league. Unless that happens soon, I don’t think you’ll see them lead the BE in 3 FGA this year, no.
Friarblog.com: What’s up with Brian McKenzie this year?
John Rooke: It’s all confidence. And he has none right now. He’s got the physical talent. It’s all between the ears, just like it has been for Sharaud. He’s simply got to keep playing hard, and hopefully, the shots will start falling again.
Friarblog.com: I know you are involved with the Patriots. Friarblog happens to be a die-hard New York Football Giants fan (It’s a new season, nothing to gloat about). Any chance of a Patriots-Giants rematch in the Super Bowl?
John Rooke: No shot. Wish it would happen, but the Pats are too banged up. They really have had the injury bug bite hard.
Friarblog.com: What’s the last movie you saw, and how was it?
John Rooke: Good question. Don’t recall. I don’t get out too much for movies, unfortunately. I’m working too much! Probably The Dark Knight – I’m a BIG Batman/superhero fan from my days as a devout DC Comics reader. Also into Sci-Fi movies, especially anything to do with space travel/outer space. I want to be the first sportscaster in outerspace! Can you help me make that happen?
Friarblog.com: What’s your favorite place to eat in Providence?
John Rooke: It’s in Cranston – El Tapatio. Closest thing I can find around here to the Tex Mex I grew up with. It’s pretty good. In Providence? Probably Bob & Timmy’s or Andino’s on the Hill.
Friarblog.com: What song are you ashamed to admit that you actually like? Bonus points if you find a video for me on YouTube or MTVMusic.
John Rooke: LOL! Here you go.
Friarblog.com: What are five websites that you have to visit every day?
JohnRooke.com (gotta make sure it’s up to date!)
awish.org (the charity I do development work for)
providence.scout.com (every day during the season, every other during off season)
emerson.edu (where I teach journalism)
Friarblog.com: Can you beat your partner Joe in a foul shooting contest?
John Rooke: I would need to blindfold Joe, and I think I could beat him. He still shoots the rock pretty well.
Thanks John! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions! Keep up the excellent work.