Guest Posted by Brian Hodge
Providence College basketball owns a special place, both in history and within the collective hearts of its fans. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to house professional teams, PC basketball filled the pro sports void in Providence. Really, it’s the closest thing the city has to big time athletics. Outside of maybe Buddy Cianci and WaterFire, PC basketball truly is the city’s best regularly scheduled entertainment.
It wasn’t always that way. There was a fascinating piece in this week’s Providence Journal, in which Kevin McNamara detailed the Friars’ rise to national prominence, specifically the region’s growing adoration of the radio broadcasts. My favorite part: People would sit in their cars, outside of the arena, and listen to the broadcasts. That’s how badly they wanted to be a part of the action.
But the wins dwindled, national appeal faded, and so too did local attention. Soon, the Friars were no longer a priority, a once hot ticket now tepid with disinterest. In a “what have you done for me lately” society, the Friars have not done much lately.
The team and the Friar fans seemed to follow the city’s failed business plan, namely neglect, abandonment, and pursuing lucrative offers elsewhere. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Providence College opens a new Hall of Fame today – a dutiful nod to PC’s storied history and a shimmering reminder the school’s storybook past.)
So, tonight is a chance to make a fresh mark. The Friars host their biggest home game of the season to date, and the biggest home game in at least two years. Tonight the Friars can shoot a spark across the national spotlight against highly touted, #14 ranked Marquette.
All of the wishful ingredients are there: a new coach, a revamped arena, and renewed (if a bit restrained) enthusiasm, all on display for a national television audience.
The Friars are not picked to win, and they may not, but there is a chance. And I suppose, that’s all Providence ever wanted: a chance to show its colors, the city, our pride. A chance to showcase our darling Friars to an undereducated nation of hoops fans. A chance to rekindle enthusiasm, something to warm our hearts during these frigid winter months.
The city will breathe with life tonight, if only a short while, another chance to cheer for our local heroes.