The problem was that not enough of those wins came against quality teams, and there were too many losses in there in non-conference play to make up for that. Providence went 2-8 against teams making the NCAA Tournament and finished the year 5-7 in its last 12 games. That sent the Friars to the NIT instead.
If nothing else, it gives the Providence senior class another game before the hometown crowd. Weyinmi Efejuku, Jeff Xavier, Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale and Randall Hanke have all come through with big games this season, and those five plus former classmate Sharaud Curry have led the team to a stellar season in coach Keno Davis’ first year at the school.
Ultimately, it fell a couple of wins away from where the team hoped to be, but there’s enough talent here to make a return trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT final four in a couple of weeks. If that happens, it will be hoping for better luck than it had the last time it was there, when it committed 26 turnovers in the loss to the Cardinals at the conference tourney.
The Friars will be looking for their 20th victory of the season in their NIT opener. It would be the first time Providence has had 20 wins or more since the 2003-04 season.
THEY’LL ADVANCE IF…: They can stop Miami’s Jack McClinton. The Friars have had a miserable time guarding opposing scorers, and McClinton can score from anywhere on the court when he gets on a roll. Keeping that from happening is critical, because if McClinton struggles offensively the rest of the Hurricanes tend to follow.
C Randall Hanke is shooting 66.3rom the floor this season. That’s actually below the senior’s career average of 67 percent.
-G Marshon Brooks continues to struggle off the bench. The sophomore averages 10.7 points per game, but he hasn’t scored in double figures since Feb. 14.