Providence's Ed Cooley Named 2022 Naismith Men's Coach of the Year

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 3, 2022

Providence head coach Ed Cooley conducts practice for the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Chicago. Providence faces Kansas in a Sweet 16 game on Friday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Ed Cooley, who led the Providence Friars to a Big East regular-season championship and the Sweet 16, was named the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year on Sunday.

Cooley defeated fellow finalists Mark Adams of Texas Tech, Greg Gard of Wisconsin and Tommy Lloyd of Arizona for the award.

"First, I want to thank the Naismith Awards and those of you who voted that saw something special in our group," Cooley said. "Secondly, I think the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year is not an individual award, but the highest team award. I am thankful for my team who showed dedication and perseverance this season. And as the proud coach of Providence College, I know it also can't be done without a powerful and strong staff supporting all of us."

Cooley wasn't the only one who took home a major award Sunday, as Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (Naismith Player of the Year) and Auburn's Walker Kessler (Naismith Defensive Player of the Year) were also recognized.

While Providence has a track record of success under Cooley from when it went to five straight NCAA tournaments from 2013-14 through 2017-18, expectations were lower heading into the 2021-22 campaign.

After all, it was just 13-13 overall and 9-10 in the Big East the previous season and hadn't been to the Big Dance since that stretch of five straight appearances. What's more, All-Big East selection David Duke was in the NBA.

All the Friars did was go 27-6 overall and 14-3 in conference play while capturing a Big East crown.

A balanced scoring act that saw five players average between 9.9 and 13.6 points per game was key, as was the ability to come through in key moments with outcomes hanging in the balance. All but three of the team's wins in conference play came by single digits, and three straight came in overtime during an impressive stretch in February.

Perhaps there was some luck involved with all the close games, but Cooley's ability to coach his team in the biggest moments stood out throughout the season.

The Friars then advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997 and lost by just five points to a Kansas team that will play for the national championship Monday.