Hundreds show up to celebrate 15-year anniversary of Providence’s ’97 Elite 8 team

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The 1997 NCAA tournament may have been one of the wildest tournaments in the 64/65-team era despite the fact that three one-seeds reached the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Of course that starts with national champion Arizona, who beat three one-seeds (only missing out on Minnesota, who lost to Kentucky in the Final Four) on their way to a national title.

Arizona won the Southeast region that year, and that region also produced Cinderellas Chattanooga and Providence.

Coached by Pete Gillen, the Friars took care of the Mocs before falling to Arizona in overtime in the Elite 8.

On Saturday night Providence College came together to honor the team led by guys such as Derek Brown, Austin Croshere and God Shammgod at the Westin Hotel in downtown Providence.

Those Friars had work to do at the Big East Championship and they did just that, winning two games in New York to sew up a bid to the Big Dance.

And once there the Friars didn’t stop, knocking off 7-seed Marquette, 2-seed Duke and 14-seed Chattanooga before running into the Wildcats.

And according to Corey Wright the Friars had a feeling that once in the tournament they’d be hanging around for a while.

“I remember the excitement of the fans and the send-off rally we had before going to Charlotte,” said Wright. The sophomore guard also remembers how confident he and his teammates were before heading down there to open up tournament play. “I told the fans, we’re gonna do this again next week, same place, same time,” he said. “I knew we were gonna win both games down there.”

Saturday night allowed all involved to retell the stories of 1997, which must have included tales of their comeback from seven down with 1:15 to go in regulation against Arizona.

A Jamel Thomas three tied the game, but what some may have forgotten is the fact that Providence had two shots at the winning basket in regulation.

While neither shot fell and the Friars would ultimately fall short, 1997 was a special year in the annals of Providence basketball.

Unfortunately both Croshere and Brown were unable to attend the event, with Croshere being a color commentator for the Indiana Pacers and Brown dealing with health issues.

Below is a excerpt from Friars All-Access in Februrary, with host Vin Parise discussing plans for the event  with athletic director Bob Driscoll and associate AD Steve Napolillo.

Photo credit: Providence Journal

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.