Ed Cooley

Providence extends contract of head coach Ed Cooley

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When the move was made by Providence College to hire Providence native Ed Cooley as its head basketball coach two years ago, many were hopeful that the native son would return the Friar program to respectability.

Two seasons into the Cooley era, it certainly looks as if the program is headed in the right direction. And on Wednesday Providence announced that Cooley’s contract would be extended. Providence did not disclose the details of the contract.

Providence navigated a number of injuries throughout the 2012-13 season and finished with a 19-15 record (9-9 Big East), falling to eventual champion Baylor in the quarterfinals of the Postseason NIT.

The Friars will look to replace the Big East’s all-time assists leader in Vincent Council (Ricardo Ledo, who will enter the NBA Draft, never suited up for PC) in their first season in the “new” Big East. But with key players such as shooting guard Bryce Cotton and forwards Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton due back 2013-14 sets up to be a good season for Providence.

“We are excited to announce today that Ed Cooley will be our head coach for many more years,” athletic director Bob Driscoll said in a statement released by the school. “Ed, who is a native of Providence, is a perfect fit for our College, our City and our State. He has made so much progress in just two short years rebuilding our program and we are confident we will be able to compete for a league championship in the new Big East.

“He is a winner who has proven to be successful on the court, on the recruiting trail and in life. We are thrilled that Ed will continue to lead the Friars.”

In two seasons at Providence Cooley has a record of 34-32, but it’s important to note just how much work needed to be done following the dismissal of Keno Davis. The program was in need of discipline both on and off the court, something that has changed for the better under Cooley.

In addition to the returnees noted above Providence adds small forward Brandon Austin (Philadelphia, Pa.) and power forward Rodney Bullock (Hampton, Va.) to the program, and both are talented enough to contribute as freshmen.

“We have made progress over the last two years, but we are not satisfied,” said Cooley. “We came with the goal of winning championships and that remains in our sights. We will continue to work to make Providence College basketball an elite program in the nation.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.