Ed Cooley

Cooley: “We’re excited” about move away from Big East

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The seven Catholic, basketball-only schools within the Big East recently announced they’ll be breaking away from the league in the future, and on Monday, one of those coaches spoke his piece about it.

Providence’s Ed Cooley, currently in his second season as Friars head coach, gave his opinion of the move to Chip Brown on Sirius XM’s College Sports Nation. Needless to say, Cooley is like many of the coaches that are involved in this mass exodus from the Big East. He agrees something had to be done.

The Friars are currently 7-2 and are expected to contend in the Big East.

“I’m not privy to a lot of those conversations; that’s at a different level.  The preliminary conversations I’ve had with [PC President] Father Shanley and [athletic director] Bob Driscoll, was, they’ve seen the landscape change years ago.  And when you look at, just recently, with Rutgers leaving, then Louisville leaving, I think enough was enough.  It’s unfortunate, as I said earlier today, that football has dominated the landscape of college athletics and, I mean, there’s a lot of reasons for it.  And because we’re a basketball only school as far as the elite high level, I’m pretty sure our presidents got together and said, ‘Let’s go in a different direction.’  The Big East was changing every single day.  There were nontraditional schools being invited and I’m pretty sure it just wasn’t in the best interests of them all.  But we’re excited.  We’re real excited about the direction. I don’t know what’s going to happen from here, I just know it’s going in a different direction. And Providence College has solidified itself as far as what we’re doing to be a powerful player in whatever league we’re going to be in.”

So, Cooley’s happy. I don’t have a problem with that. And also, kudos to him for recognizing, for better or worse, that football is king in this discussion. It’s just a fact some coaches have a hard time grasping. He continued.

“We’ve been a proud, proud member of the Big East, being one of the original schools.  And we’ll miss that.  We’ll miss the challenges of Connecticut, Syracuse, we’ve had some great battles with them through the years.  But I think everybody has to be realistic with the changing culture of athletics.  If you don’t change you are going to get left behind.  And whatever new rivalries will come up, we’ll embrace those.  I know our fan base is excited about it [and] our alumni are excited about it and we’re going to try to do the best we can.”

This is one of the more genuine statements I’ve heard from a coach regarding this situation. Cooley recognizes the past, but knows the times change. The collegiate landscape isn’t the same as it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. We all hurt when we see things we love end or become altered, and we can either, in this case, fight a losing battle to stay together or move on and try to improve. Cooley recognizes the seven non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools saw that and had to make the move.

I never really had an opinion on the latest round conference realignment. I’ve become numb to it. Tell me when it’s over. But this is inevitable. Good that Cooley and the other schools are helping themselves instead of trying to funnel water out of a sinking ship.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.