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Dunkin’ Donuts Center interested in bidding for 2017, 2018 Atlantic 10 tournaments

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With it being announced that the Barclays Center will host the ACC tournament in 2017 and 2018, the Atlantic 10 finds itself in need of a home for its conference tournament during those two seasons. The Atlantic 10 has played its postseason event at Barclays the last two years, and its original contract with the facility runs until 2017.

In exchange for moving its tournament to make room for the ACC in 2017, the Atlantic 10 will return to Brooklyn for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 events.

But what location would be best for the Atlantic 10 in 2017 and 2018? According to a report by Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the officials in charge of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center are interested in placing a bid when the process begins. The arena is the home of the Providence Friars, who play in the Big East and that conference tournament is played the same week as the Atlantic 10’s event.

And the idea of Providence hosting the A-10 is something that Rhode Island AD Thorr Bjorn expressed support for in the story.

“The league needs a home for the tournament for one year or two,” Bjorn said, “and I think the Dunkin’ Donuts Center would be a great option. I’m sure there will be other buildings interested out there but The Dunk has proven it’s a great facility for basketball and with all that Providence and Rhode Island has to offer, I think it is a very viable option.”

Before the A-10 moved to Brooklyn in 2013, it held its tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for six seasons. From 2003-06, teams converged on Dayton and then Cincinnati. For the previous six seasons, the A-10 held its tournament at old Spectrum in Philadelphia.

The move to Brooklyn has been a good one for the Atlantic 10, which will add a member this summer when Davidson completes its move from the Southern Conference. But where would the league be best suited to play its conference tournament for two seasons before moving back to Barclays in 2019?

Obviously Philadelphia has a long history of hosting, and the presence of two member schools in the city (La Salle and Saint Joseph’s) doesn’t hurt matters either. Other cities mentioned in the story as possible hosts include Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.

Are the masses sleeping on Ed Cooley’s Providence Friars?

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When Providence College hired Ed Cooley back in 2011, the hope of many was that the Providence native was the right man to rebuild a proud program that had fallen on hard times. Lacking discipline both on and off the court, the Friars had a tough enough time fighting their way out of the bottom half of the Big East much less contending for an NCAA tournament bid.

That’s begun to change under Cooley, as the Friars won 19 games and reached the quarterfinals of the Postseason NIT. Despite the graduation of point guard Vincent Council, fans are hopeful that Providence will continue to make progress with players such as guards Bryce Cotton and Kris Dunn and forwards Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton returning.

But even with those returnees and some talented newcomers of both the freshman (Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock) and transfer (Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris) varieties, receiving some respect in preview publications has proven difficult for the Friars. Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal discussed this in regards to both PC and their rivals up at Rhode Island, where Dan Hurley’s put together a roster many expect to be far more formidable in the Atlantic 10 this season.

None of the preseason chatter matters, of course. It just introduces a bit of doubt into the minds of fans who are clearly thirsting for wins.

“We have a few guys who haven’t played in our two transfers (Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris) and the two freshmen,” Cooley said, “but at the end of the day they picked us last last year, too. It’s a cliché that you don’t worry about what people say about you before the season, it’s after the season that matters. But do I think we’re a 7-8-9 team? Not at all. But hey I only get one vote.”

Providence will embark on a new era of sorts, as will their fellow conference members, in the reconstituted Big East. Gone are games against programs such as UConn and Syracuse, but that doesn’t mean the path to the NCAA tournament gets any easier with three strong programs in Butler, Creighton and Xavier joining the league. If this transition were being made during the days when Providence lacked depth and discipline, they’d be in serious trouble.

But those days are long gone, and even if that 19-15 record may not be seen as concrete evidence to the casual observer coach Cooley’s impact on the program can be seen clearly when the Friars are in action. Can the Friars return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004? The pieces are there for them to end that drought, regardless of what the preseason prognostications say.

Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell to announce September 7

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Expressions Elite teammates Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell have cut their respective list of offers to 10, then four and as of Saturday have reached a conclusion for their college decisions.

On Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, the duo will announce their commitments. Abu, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Kimball Union Academy (N.H.) is down to Florida, N.C. State, Providence and UConn. Terrell, a 6-foot-3 guard who plays at Brewster Academy (N.H.) will pick from Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Providence and Rhode Island.

Since Expressions Elite’s season came to an end last month, the duo has been busy cutting a list and then scheduling visits. Abu, made unofficial trips to N.C. State on Aug. 11 and then Florida on Aug. 14.

“Abdul liked N.C. State and the fact that he could come in and play right away,” Expressions Elite head coach Ty Boswell told NBC Sports in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “He liked the overall atmosphere of the school, and he had a real good conversation with the coaching staff.

“He liked the tradition, and the way they develop power forwards for the next level,” Boswell said of the Florida visit. “He also liked Billy Donovan with how he interacts with past and current players.”

The most recent, and final visit for Abu was UConn earlier this week. Kevin Ollie showed the Boston native the new facilities, and according to Boswell, the staff made a great presentation to Abu.

Terrell returned from an official visit to Oklahoma State this past weekend, and is trying to plan a trip to Cincinnati this upcoming weekend.

“He liked the opportunity,” Boswell said of the OK State visit. “Obviously, Marcus Smart is leaving, and he’ll have big shoes to fill. He liked the fact he could come in and play right away.

Though he has the high-major offers, Danny Hurley and the Rhode Island staff have been aggressive in recruiting Terrell, which clearly has paid off.

“Jared liked Danny and the vision they have for him, coming in and being a focal point,” Boswell added. “They see him a guy that can help lead them to an Atlantic 10 championship.”

One school is still in play for both: Providence . Abu and Terrell have been high priorities for the Providence coaching staff, and landing commitments would be great additions to its 2014 class that includes Huntington Prep (W.Va.) small forward Jalen Lindsey. Rumors of a package deal have been consistent throughout their recruitments, though, both stated repeatedly that it would have to be the best possible option for both of them.

Abu and Terrell visited Providence on Aug. 10 for an unofficial visit, and participated in PC’s elite camp.

“It was a great atmosphere and a great situation,” Boswell said. “Ed Cooley has done a great job thus far, and has made it clear he really wants them.

“They have the opportunity to leave a legacy in the New England area.”

Boswell told NBC Sports that the two friends have spent considerable time talking to each other about the process, comparing and contrasting the visits they’ve had. Despite a date being set, Boswell says he doesn’t not know which way either of them are leaning at this point.

“Not yet … we’ll see,” Boswell said, “We’ll sit and chop everything up, and try to make the best decision possible as a group. Then we’ll leave it up to the kids.”

Abu is ranked as the No. 50 overall player in the Class of 2014 by Rivals. Terrell is listed as No. 62 by the same recruiting service.

Providence’s Ed Cooley joins staff for USA Basketball Men’s Under-19 World Championship team

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Yesterday, news broke that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was in discussions to return as the USA Olympic men’s basketball coach through the Rio 2016 Olympics.

On a smaller scale, earlier last week the Providence Journal reported that Providence head coach Ed Cooley will join Marquette head coach Buzz Williams and Tim Ryan, head coach from the College of Central Florida, as court coaches for the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s Under-19 World Championship team training camp.

While Cooley won’t be working with Coach K, but rather Florida head coach Billy Donovan during the June 14-19 training camp held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, it’s clear he’s looked up to coaches like Krzyzewski and others, and had a burning desire to get involved with the program.

Cooley told Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal: “I feel honored and blessed just to be involved. It’s a chance to see some of our best young players and learn from some great coaches.”

Cooley is right on the mark because in some respects the USA Basketball’s World Championship teams are as much of an opportunity for the game’s brightest stars to grow as players as it is for up-and-coming coaches in the college game to expand their coaching abilities. Of course, Cooley is an established coach having nearly 20 years of experience under his belt–seven as a head coach with stops at Fairfield and now Providence–but working alongside Williams and Donovan can only benefit.

To go along with the three court coaches, Donovan’s two assistant coaches include Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart. Pretty good company Cooley finds himself in.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Ricky Ledo to the NBA Draft? Sidiki Johnson off the team? Providence hits rough patch

Sidiki Johnson
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Ed Cooley is building a solid foundation for future success at Providence. He had one of the top recruiting classes in the country last year. His program is moves to a more stable, basketball-only conference soon. But he is running into two major bumps in the road that could set the progress back significantly, depending on how things play out.

As was reported by Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, redshirt freshman Ricky Ledo is weighing the possibility of not returning to Providence next season. Ledo, a Top 25 recruit from the Class of 2012, was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA and forced out of games this season. Instead of returning in 2013-14, Ledo could enter the NBA Draft.

“My status is unclear,” Ledo said, as reported by the Journal. “College is a great preparation for life and college has already taught me a lot. I’m looking at every option, both staying in school and looking at the draft.”

Draft Express projects Ledo would not be selected in this year’s NBA Draft, but could go in the late first round of the 2014 draft.

We have seen two key players return to school after being ruled partial qualifiers, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Kansas’ Ben McLemore, both of whom are now on track to win Rookie of the Year in their respective conferences.

As the Ledo news came down, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com reported that Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson is “off the team” to deal with personal issues. Johnson came to Providence mid-way through last season after being asked to leave the Wildcats.

Johnson, a 6-10 native of New York, had been averaging 3.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Friars. He did not play in Providence’s overtime loss to Connecticut on Thursday.

Providence returns to the floor against Villanova on Sunday at noon ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Loose bat at Bradley Center delays Marquette-Providence (GIF)

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This is one of those special days in college basketball. What we might have missed out on with marquee Top 25 matchups, we can make up for with bizarre on-court events.

Take, for example, this scene at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, where a loose bat delayed play because it caused panic every time it flew across the court. The GIF below shows Sidiki Johnson doing a nice Matrix-like move to avoid the oncoming bat. It’s so chuckle-worthy that it’s worth watching a few times.

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Facility managers at Bradley Center even turned the lights out to try to catch the bat with 7:36 left in the game, creating this eerily gorgeous scene:

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The goal was to try and get the bat to settle in the rafters. The theory was that it was attracted to the brightness of the court.

“It was funny to begin with,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “But after awhile, it was, ‘Damn the bat. We have to win.’ There is going to be a winner and a loser. There’s not going to be an asterisk that said a bat was in the building.”

But there will be this blog post.

And if you’ll notice, I didn’t once mention who won the game. (Until now, Marquette did. “”There were no bright spots in the game except for Batman and Robin in the damn building,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “Actually, it was pretty funny. I thought the officials were more afraid than anybody.”)

(h/t @ bubbaprog and @anonymouseagle)

(Image via screengrab of the broadcast)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_