Vin Parise from CollegeBasketballTalk caught up with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley and Providence head coach Ed Cooley. The Friars and Rams square off tonight in the Battle of the Ocean State.
*Ed Cooley – Providence
CBT: Let’s first talk about your Sunday night loss to Kentucky.
Cooley: I though we played well in stretches and really competed but Kentucky played very, very good. They were strong on the inside and shot it great from 3 point land as well – coming into the game they were below 30% from deep. Their size and length really bothered us though. They’re young, but they’re a very strong team.
CBT: What about your team right now?
Cooley: Our rotation is a little shorter with Kris Dunn and the freshmen out of course; but I really like how hard our guys are playing. And I like the fact that we’ve played in some close games and away from our home court so far. That will help us not only for Thursday night but moving forward as well.
CBT: What are your thoughts on your 2nd trip as head coach down to the Ryan Center at URI for this year’s in-state battle?
Cooley: I’m excited…really excited. Rhode Island has some really good pieces to their team this year and I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere down there. Our guys are excited but it will definitely be a be tough road game for us.
*Dan Hurley – Rhode Island
CBT: Catch us up on how your Rams are doing right now?
Hurley: I like our guys’ attitudes right now. Xavier Munford and Gilvydas Biruta have played through some nagging injuries without publicizing it since the start of the year and have stayed positive and battled. And I really love the way Biggie Minnus handled coming off the bench with his attitude for the first 8 games of the year. (Minnus started their last game vs George Mason) We just need to keep improving and get some more production moving forward.
CBT: What about the last time out – your loss at George Mason?
Hurley: I wish we shot the ball better and didn’t turn it over as much, but I like the way we competed on the road for the first time this year facing a tough Atlantic 10 level opponent. For the first time out in league; I liked our grittiness.
CBT: You’re in year 2 of your rebuilding job and you’ve done a lot in 20 months on the job. How do you feel your timeline in Kingston has gone?
Hurley: We had to lay a foundation and build a roster from scratch so I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished recruiting wise. And now I feel we’ve done a good job reaching that next step which is winning the games you’re supposed to win. We now we have to take that next step and get a little more consistent on both ends of the court.
CBT: Let’s talk about the matchup with Providence Thursday night.
Hurley: It’s my first time experiencing this game at home so I’m looking forward to the crowd and the whole scene for our kids. I want our guys to revel in it. I want them to feed off the energy and not be intimidated by it. I feel our guys are ready to come out and play hard defensively – I just want us to get off to a good start on the offensive end.
Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports Network and SportsNet New York. He is also a contributor & analyst for ESPN3, MSG Network, Cox Sports New England, Fox Sports 1, The Providence Coaches Show, St. John’s Radio & Iona College Radio. He coached 8 seasons at FDU, Rutgers & Iona. Follow Vin on Twitter: @VinParise