Well, an end to an era has finally happened at my alma mater, Providence College.
A school formerly known for its basketball prowess, from Lenny Wilkins, John Thompson, Jimmy Walker, and Billy Donovan (the list could go on); to a team that has missed the NCAA Tournament every year since 2005.
Why the sudden collapse of a proud program?
Put simply, head coach, Tim Welsh.
Hired out of Iona, where he posted a respectable record (somewhere in the ballpark of 70-22 over three years), Welsh brought the zone to PC. Unfortunately, he left the page out of the playbook that had the box-and-one.
For years I watched the games, yelled, screamed "box-and-one!" at the tv or the coach himself from the stands, as our opponent kicked the ball to a shooter beyond the arc where he would drain the three. When I was a student there a few years ago, I saw Coach Welsh and asked him (maybe in a snide manner), "Can you do me a favor, just say box-and-one for me."
His failure to implement this seemingly basic defensive package was not the only chink in the armor. Outside of Ryan Gomes' years on the court, Providence College never had an interior presence as far as I can remember.
Four years ago, there was Marcus Douthit, but even he could not stack up to the competition in the conference. It seemed as though Providence was always a few inches too short to compete in the Big East. Without a serious interior presence, Providence simply cannot compete against Connecticut, Georgetown, Pitt, and the other powerhouses of the conference.
This past week, while I eschewed watching the opening round game of the Big East Tournament to play some baseball, I was asked why I was not watching the game. It was an easy response, the school would keep it close, pull within single digits, fail to play the aforementioned defensive scheme, and ultimately lose by five.
After coming home from throwing about two hours of batting practice, my predictions were fulfilled to the tune of a five point loss. Now if only I had this power when I enjoyed placing friendly wagers on PC when they were last in the tourney. I mean really, they had to lose to Pacific of all teams.
I'm convinced to this day that they threw the game, that's the only conceivable way that they could have lost. But, I guess my view may be a bit tainted by loss of income. I digress.
As the boys of summer have made it down south in preparation for the greatest day of the year (opening day of course), the temperature is warming, the birds are returning, and Tim Welsh has been fired. Hope has returned.
As for Tim, I'm sure he'll find a new job. Hopefully he'll land at another Big East school. In a few years, when the program gets turned around, I can gleefully watch PC beat up on whichever school was unfortunate enough to hire him.
No longer will I have to see the Tim Welsh face on the sideline in the closing minutes of games. Bob Driscoll, thank you for pulling the trigger on Welsh's canning. No longer is the school burdened by his glaring ineptitude. A new day has come. The raven is no longer pecking at the liver of Prometheus. Let's hope that I don't have the same complaints in another 10 years.