Monday, April 4, 2011

The House that Gavitt Built: All-Time Providence College Basketball Team


One of my favorite things is to analyze the all-time great college basketball teams based on their distinguished alumni. Considering the fact that Friar Black-and-White flows through my veins, I figured I would start with the most underrated all-time team there is: Providence College.


Ernie Digregorio:
Position: Point Guard/Wizard
North Providence Native Ernie D delivers the Pizza right on time.

A native of North Providence, "Ernie D" is the perfect point guard for an all-time team. Know for his brilliant passes and court facilitation, DiGregorio would have gotten the Big Dig to finish on-time. Not only did DiGregorio lead the the Friars to the final four but he was also named the 1973-74 NBA rookie of the year.
Lenny Wilkens: 
Position: Hall of Fame Shooting Guard
You earned that cigar Lenny, you winning machine you.

Not often thought of as a Friar, this HOF player and coach provides savvy and smarts to any squad. Known for his calm demeanor and crafty scoring, Wilkens was a 9-time NBA all-star and was second in MVP balloting to Wilt Chamberlain during the 1967-68 season. Don't let his nice guy act get in the way of the fact that Lenny was a superb defender. This Bedford-Stuyvesant product could stick any other all-time 2 guard any day of the week.

Jimmy Walker
Position: Underrated Small Forward
Oscar who?

Walker, a Boston playground legend and Laurinburg Prep product was the #1 overall pick in the 1967 NBA draft and went on to become a 2-time NBA all-star. Walker led the nation in scoring his senior year, averaging 30 points per game. His game was (and still is by the RFH Collective) considered equal to Oscar Robertson's. Coolness ran so deep in his genes that the son he sired became the leader of the cultural-phenomenon that was the Fab Five.
Marvin "Bad News" Barnes
Position: Who Cares
This shot was sent into the 5th row.

A native of Providence, "Bad News" might be the most underrated hoops player of all-time. It is a shame that living so hard and fast took down this great so early in his career. Instead of being known as the greatest power forward of all-time, he is now just one of the faces of the cocaine era in the NBA/ABA. When he was at the top of his game Barnes was the definition of unstoppable. Teaming with Ernie D, Barnes led the Friars to 1973-74 final four. During that year, he led the nation in rebounding and scored 52 points against Austin Peay. After his regin at PC, Barnes was selected 2nd overall in the NBA draft. However, since Barnes was so rad, he opted to go to the ABA instead. The ABA and Marvin Barnes were a match made in heaven. He was the ABA rookie of the year and MVP  in 1974-75 season. He tore up the ABA so hard that they later named a division after him.

Barnes is also the main character in one of my favorite sports related stories/urban myths. Supposedly, Barnes missed the a pre-game meeting and the shoot around before a St. Louis Spirits game. No one could reach him or knew where he was. As the minutes ticked away, everyone figured that he was going to be a no-show. This, of course, would essentially mean that the team had no chance. However, 5 minutes before tip-off Barnes strolls in with a smile on his face. Not just a smile, but also an ankle length mink coat, two girls on his arms and a cheeseburger in his hand. He said to the team, who were all just staring at him, "No need to fear, News is here". Despite not having slept in 36 hours, he proceeded to drop something like 35 and 20. Yup, that's how we do it Providence.
Otis Thorpe
Position: "Whatever is needed to win, Coach" - Otis Thorpe
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.
All O-T-I-S Thorpe knows how to do is be part of great things. As part of the Friars, Thorpe was a first team all-Big-East selection and an honorable mention AA. He was then drafted 8th in the 1984 NBA draft upon which he teamed up with Hakeem "the dream" Olajuwon to win a ship. Bottom line: Otis Thorpe is a hero, gentleman, and scholar.


PC Depth
Billy "the kid" Donovan
Austin Croshere
Ryan Gomes
John Linehan
Marshon Brooks
God Shamgod
JTII



5 comments:

stephenpkjohnston said...

Dave - solid post. Best one I've seen in years. Every time I try to talk PC basketball in California I get nothing - they just don't get it. You have to give some love to great coaches coming out of PC too, whether as players (John Thompson along with Wilkens and Donovan) or as coaches (Pitino, Rick Barnes) early in their career.

John Hendrie said...

Stevie J in the house! I am expecting guest post out of you. And great comment about PC being a coaching farm. Co-sign 100%. Ed Cooley is next!

stephenpkjohnston said...

I was doing more research into the coaching farm comment - Dave Gavitt is a consideration here. Hall of Famer with many contributions to PC (and Celtics) and was even born in Westerly. Perhaps my first guest post will be a feel good piece on this guy.

John Hendrie said...

Not surprised Gavitt is from Westerly. Makes perfect sense. Anything written by you is instantly inserted onto this gem of a blog. PRI till I die.

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