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Friars Alumni Day Brought Back Legends to Providence

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Some names immortal in Providence College basketball history returned to Friartown last week. PIC: Providence MBB Twitter

The entire Big East is filled with rich basketball history, and Providence is towards the top of that list. Thursday night was a evening that brought so many Friar legends back to Mullaney Gym to discuss what made their time in Friartown so special.

Among the attendees were current head coach Ed Cooley, NBA and college hoops legend Rick Pitino (who led the Friars to their only Final Four in 1987), Chicago Bulls head coach and former Friar player Billy Donovan, 1994-98 head coach Pete Gillen, 1998-2008 head coach Tim Welsh, and current Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes zooming in.

The host? None other than Doris Burke, NBA analyst who won the Female Athlete of the Year in her senior year as the Friars' point guard in 1987.

For Friar fans, there was arguably no more exciting time than the 1987 run to the Final Four. When Rick Pitino was purged from Boston University to lead the team in 1985, the Friars were a dreadful 11-20, in dire need of transformation. And sure enough, with an overhaul from Pitino, they rode an excellent season all the way to the national semifinal.

Pitino was hired by the New York Knicks just a few months after, but he still remembers his time in 1987 as some of the most rewarding of his career.

A guy that experienced it first-hand? Billy Donovan, the team's point guard. He went to coach at Kentucky with Pitino shortly afterwards, and went on to win back-to-back championships at Florida. Donovan's tour led to the Thunder and the Bulls in head coaching positions, but he credited it all to the man who called the shots in 1987.

And can you think of someone better to bring it home than the man who embodies Friar basketball the most? Ed Cooley closed it out with comments on what it means to be a part of the Friar family.


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