I’ve always been a Friar fan ever since I set foot on campus in the fall of 1998. Now that I have a full decade of heartbreaking losses, I can consider myself a true Friar fan who, as Marvin Barnes would say, “Bleeds black and white”. I may be tempting fate here putting out this list with one game to go in the decade, but after some of the games this season I can’t forsee any type of loss that would cause me to crawl in the fetal position (unless maybe Vincent Council dives for a ball into the stands, breaking both his legs, and knocks into Gerard Coleman, who is there to watch the game only to get two broken arms in the collision — KNOCK ON WOOD).
Anyways, with the decade winding down, here is my Top 10 Worst Games for the 2000’s for the Providence Friars Basketball program. This could be a good history lesson for those new Friars with us now, or maybe a good diuretic for the old timers out there.
You know how they say “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?” Well I feel pretty much invincible after the 2000’s!
10. February 21, 2009: Notre Dame: 103, Providence: 84
This game was the perfect microcosm of the ‘08 class. A huge BIG EAST game on their own home court and…they put up an utter complete dud by playing with no sense of urgency. You would of thought the urgency would be there, since heading into the game Providence had a 16-10 (8-6) record that was teetering on NCAA bracket predictions. However, the Friars saw their tourney dreams take a huge hit by letting Notre Dame score all over the place pretty much at will. The Fighting Irish hit several threes right from the start, and never let the usually roudy-in-key-games crowd at the DUNK get into the game.
9. January 17, 2009: #14 Marquette 91, Providence 82
When looking back at the 2008-2009 season, it hurts to think that if one game went the other way, we could have been dancing. Most people pointed at the opener against Northeastern, since that was a winnable OOC game on their own home court. However, I think the Marquette game hurt the most since the fact that the team was so good and ranked. Also, the Friars played an excellent first half, and led by as many as 13 in the 2nd half. Jeff Xavier was actually shooting well, until he got elbowed in the eye early in the 2nd half and couldn’t return (then his brother came out from the stands wearing a sweet coat). Marquette picked up their offense and defense, and kept dwindling down the lead — Lazar Hayward hit a go-ahead three pointer with about two minutes left and PC couldn’t score anymore. Another big win slips away.
Friarblog’s memory: I was in the city (NY) that night out to dinner with some friends. After dinner I checked the score on my phone and was shocked to see a lead. We went back to my buddy’s apartment and I periodically kept checking the gamecast on his laptop (despite evil looks and words from my wife). When I saw the game was close in crunch time, I demanded we put on the game. I got to see the last two minutes when the game was tied and Marquette got a three, Marshon missed one himself, and then a three-point play by Marquette. Heartbreak.
8. January 31, 2008: Providence 74, Notre Dame 81 (OT)
It’s hard to think that amidst a mediocre 15-16 season a game could be tops among an entire decade. Well, remember when I said last year’s ND game was the microcosm of that class? Well, this would be microcosm 1b. Providence had a shot at beating a good Notre Dame team on the road to end the Irish’s 31 game home win streak. They got an inexplicable good performance from Ray Hall, but he simply could not hit a foul shot to save his life (2-10, including an air ball or two). Despite that, the Friars were still in a position to win the game after Geoff McDermott pulled down a rebound with 22 seconds left and a two point lead. What did he do? McDermott inexplicably passed the ball to the wrong team, and the Irish hit two foul shots to force OT (which they would just dominate).
7. November 28th, 2001: Brown 67, Providence 60
Boy did the Friars miss Erron Maxey and Karim Shabazz. Providence had a rough season a year after making the NCAA Tournament, including embarrassingly losing to BROWN (despite being 17.5 point favorites). The ‘00-‘01 tournament team beat Brown the previous year by FIFTY-ONE! The Brown Bears just executed their offense perfectly, and were quicker than the Friars. Marcus Douthit had a horrendous game from the field, scoring 4 points on 1-10 shooting. Abdul Mills was the only Providence Friar in double figures, with 17 points.
6. February 24th, 2001: #9 Boston College 59, Providence 58
Hard to imagine that Boston College and the Providence Friars were vying for first place in the BIG EAST, eh? PC entered the game behind a half game to the rival and ranked #9 Eagles, and came oh so close to finishing as the #1 seed (they would finish two games behind). It was the usual roller-coaster of emotions game. Providence led by 8 at the half, but BC fought back and looked like they had it locked up with a 59-53 lead with just over a minute to play. However, the Friars rallied back with 5 straight points on a big offensive rebound and assist by Erron Maxey, and a steal and layup by John Linehan. After BC missed both foul shots, Providence had a shot to win. Rome Augustine attempted a fade away near the foul line, that just rattled out of the rim. Heartbreak. Side note: Remember Troy Bell? Man, he was pretty good but I could not stand him and most of the BC players on those teams.
5. January 10th, 2004: #25 Providence 64, Rutgers 65
Although I have this one ranked #5, it could easily be #1 for me personally, since I was there and with a good friend of mine who is a Rutgers fan. The trash talking leading up to that game was intense and started from the day the schedule was released. Anyway, this game’s heartbreak was magnified a thousand-fold since it came immediately after the Texas shot-clock game. Rutgers was not a particularly good team then, but they always played well at the RAC (well, they used to at least). Ryan Gomes and Marcus Douthit really took it the Scarlet Knights, and Providence looked like they would come away with a win with a 64-59 lead with NINETEEN seconds left. Herve-f*$#ing-Lamizana hit a three and Rutgers quickly fouled. Donnie McGrath (who ended his career as an 83% FT shooter) missed both foul shots with the crowd at the RAC taunting him behind the hoop. With time winding down, Rutgers got the ball to Herve-f*$#ing-Lamizana who hit a fall-away three pointer as time expired to win the game. Heartbreak.
Friarblog’s memory: Just an awful, awful end to the night. I went with a bunch of friends (including the one said Rutgers fan) and hit up a bar in New Brunswick (no where near the arena of course). I vaguely remember watching some NFL playoffs beforehand, and the drinks were flowing. By the time Herve-f*$#ing-Lamizana’s shot dropped, I had one of those same-night hangover things going on (they don’t serve beer at the RAC, so I slowly lost my buzz throughout the game). I felt like arse, and just saw two heartbreaking losses in the span of a week.
4. March 16, 2001: Providence 59, Penn State 69
I’m not sure how the Friars got a #10 seed that year, but the NCAA Tournament first round matchup put PC against a tough Penn State team. Much like towards the end of the seaon, Providence simply could not get their offense going in the second half, shooting a terrible 31%. It wasn’t a blowout, but PC just couldn’t cut into the lead that Penn State quickly built in the 2nd half. It wasn’t a heart-breaker, just disappointing since it was only one of the two times the Friars would make the Dance in the decade.
Friarblog’s memory: It was a tough game, but I’m glad I got to at least experience a taste of the Tournament while attending the school. I went to the Selection Sunday gathering at Alumni Hall, and watched the game with some buddies at Brad’s. The outcome hurt, but I thought there would be many more times in the future where I would get to watch PC play in the tournament. Woops.
3. Janauary 5, 2004: #18 Texas 79, #25 Providence 77
The “Shot Clock Game”. I can’t remember a game that caused more anger and joy combined. Former Providence coach Rick Barnes and his #18 ranked Texas Longhorns came into the DUNK for a huge game early in the season. PC was just ranked (#25) for the first time in 3 years. The Friars frustratingly came out flat, and fell behind 32-11 in the first half. They didn’t score a field goal until 13 minutes in!! However, PC didn’t give up, and even fought through a late 9 point deficit with 5 minutes to go to eventually take the lead. Providence had a three-point lead with 15 seconds to go until Royal Ivey forced OT with a three pointer. It seemed like we were headed for a 2nd OT after Donnie McGrath drilled a three to tie it with 3 seconds left. However, P.J Tucker made an incredible play to get off a shot as time expired which he sank for the win. Did he get the shot off in time? The officials reviewed the play for seven minutes. Tim Higgins (who else of course?) came out and said the shot had counted even though it showed there was 0:00 on the clock when it left his hand. Apparently, the light on the backboard and the clock were not in sync — the ball left before the light came on, so it counted. The crowd at the DUNK obviously did not like that, and mayhem ensued.
Friarblog’s memory: I remember being super pumped for this game all day at work. I tried to rush home for it, but hit crazy traffic on the Turnpike. By the time I got home I was crushed since PC was already down 20! I watched the rest of the game in my room, and I’m pretty sure with all the yelling and cheering my parents officially thought I was nuts. I wanted PC to win that game in the worst way, and I didn’t care what I did to support that. I couldn’t even imagine how the crowd felt at the DUNK.
2. March 19, 2004: Pacific 66, Providence 58
Much like the ‘01 tournament game, this loss was on the heels of a downward spiral towards the end of the season. It didn’t make it easier to stomach, but fans knew PC was in trouble being the #5 seed against the upset minded #12 seed in Pacific. Everyone was picking Pacific to upset. Could you blame them? The Friars lost their last three games, and looked nothing like the team that was ranked #12 during the season. We had to hope that All-American Ryan Gomes would just put the team on his back and lead the team to victory. Well, Gomes gave it everything he had, scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. However, he didn’t get that much help from anyone else. Providence just took too many threes (sound familiar?). Donnie McGrath was 1-6 from the behind the arc, and Sheiku Kabba was 2-9. Douthit and Rob Sanders combined for 10 turnovers. It was the last game in a Friar uniform for both.
Friarblog’s memory: I watched this in sadness at my apartment in NJ, which I was convinced was bad luck. I moved into it on March 1st, 2004. The day before the worst game of the decade.
1. March 2, 2004: #6 Pittsburgh 88, #12 Providence 61
Heading into the game was the unquestionable high point of the program for the entire decade. Providence was ranked #12 and was fighting for a #1 seed in the BIG EAST tournament with the huge matchup against #6 Pittsburgh lurking. The game was at the DUNK, and the fans were ready to explode. Pitt had other ideas. And by other ideas, I mean physically and mentally beating the s#$% out of the Friars. Gomes was held in check, and Chris Taft and Chevy Troutman went ape-sh*t down low scoring 20+ each. Providence lost the game and was just never the same since. They didn’t win a game the rest of the season, including one-and-done’s in the BET and NCAA Tournament. Beating ranked teams over the next 4 years was also rare, so hopefully the upset of #1 Pitt last year reversed the curse that this game brought.
Friarblog’s memory: After work, I drove over to reader Mookie’s house. Let’s just say I never went back to watch a game there!
So, what do you think? What were your memories from bad games of the decade?
Stay tuned for after Christmas for the 10 BEST games of the 2000’s!