The Pros and Cons of Ed Cooley

As all of you should know by now, Providence College has hired a new men’s basketball head coach, Ed Cooley.  Cooley, formerly the head coach as Fairfield University, played his high school basketball at Central, and grew up in Providence, RI.  Prior to becoming the head coach at Fairfield, Cooley coached under Al Skinner at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College from 1996-2006.

Even though coach Cooley had a fair amount of success at Fairfield (25-8 in 2010-2011, 92-69 overall), there are both pros and cons to Cooley becoming the head coach at Providence College.

PROS

Basketball Heritage

As I mentioned previously, Cooley played basketball in high school at Central.  Cooley then played for four years at Stonehill College, where he was a captain for three seasons.  To be honest, I have never heard of a player being a captain as a sophomore, so that should say something about Cooley’s leadership ability.  Unlike Keno Davis, Cooley played at a level where he can at least somewhat relate to his players.  That should allow him to better connect with his players and hopefully gain some respect a bit faster.

Rhode Island Roots

Cooley’s Rhode Island roots play in his favor in two ways.  First, recruiting locally should be easier for a coach that grew up and found success in Rhode Island.  Convincing Ricardo Ledo that staying in state to play college ball could be Cooley’s first big move.  Second, Cooley’s Rhode Island roots should help hold him “home” a bit longer than other coaches.  PC has often been regarded as a “stepping stone school.”  Coaches that have big success in Providence often use that as a platform to move on to better jobs.  Being from Rhode Island, Cooley may be more likely to stay at PC if he finds success than other coaches.

Defensive Success

Ed Cooley’s Fairfield team was amongst the best defensive teams in the NCAA last season.  From what I can remember, Fairfield ranked second in the nation in points allowed and held opponents to under 40% shooting on the season.  The Friars biggest Achilles heel for the past few seasons has been their inability to consistently play any sort of defense.  Cooley and his defensive pedigree will hopefully help out PC.  But, it is important to remember that Keno Davis’ Drake team was amongst the best defensive teams in the country before he came to PC.

Passion and Intensity

I have to admit that even though I wasn’t in favor of letting coach Davis go after three seasons, coach Cooley’s press conference after being hired at PC was inspirational.  Cooley’s enthusiasm for coming back home and coaching at Providence makes you believe that he wants to be here for the remainder of his coaching career.  You can tell that Cooley demands his players not only perform on the court, but also in the classroom and in the community.  I can’t help but love that he places a treadmill on the side of the practice court so if players can’t focus on the court than they can focus on the treadmill, that is just priceless.

CONS

Small School Success

As all of us Friar fans know very well, small school success definitely does not always translate to big program success.  I’m not saying that Providence is a huge basketball school, but the Big East is a whole new animal.  Cooley’s ability to find success at Providence will depend on his ability to coach defense, keep his players actually eligible, and recruit very well.

Recruiting Questions

Providence College and coach Cooley recently terminated the contract of Chris Driscoll, the only remaining member of coach Davis’ staff left at PC, and a supposed local recruiting guru.  Driscoll was thought to be primarily responsible for both Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye signing with the Friars.  Driscoll’s release leaves major concern on the recruiting front for the Friars.  Cooley stated that he will be looking for a big time recruiter with Big East ties, but those guys don’t grow on trees.  Cooley will evaluate the current recruits that the Friars have committed and make moves from there, so we will just have to see that happens.

The more research that I do, the more I seem to like the hiring of Ed Cooley, but that doesn’t mean that he will have instance success.  I expect the Friars to be a pretty good team next season, considering the immense experience that they have coming back.  Cooley should benefit from all of the time that coach Davis gave to guys like Vincent Council, Kadeem Batts, Bilal Dixon, Gerard Coleman, Duke Mondy, etc.  I’m looking forward to the 2011-2012 season, and I’m excited for what the future holds with Ed Cooley at the helm at PC.

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