In the beginning of the season, The Crier said he didn’t have any expectations coming into the season. I don’t think many people could have expected the season the Friars have had but Saturday was a moment years in the making. This was Ed Cooley’s vision when he took the podium to be introduced as the Friars head coach in 2011. To see where Cooley has taken the program he inherited to the one that was just coronated Big East champs is truly remarkable. The Friars did us all a favor by not making this a nail bitter, defeating the Creighton Blue Jays 72-51. Let’s take a look at how they clinched.
1. Reeves Game- It felt fitting that AJ Reeves had a big night in potentially his last game at The Dunk. His first time playing at The Dunk he dazzled with 29 points against Siena. Saturday he went for 23 points including going for a sizzling 7/10 from the 3pt line. AJ’s career has had its ups and downs due to injuries, yet he’s stuck it out and is playing great basketball at the most important time. Friartown certainly realizes how talented Reeves is and if he can keep this up PC will be a real tough out in March.
2. Sharing the Sugar- The team stat that jumped out in this one was the assist numbers. Creighton only assisted on 4 made baskets. Clearly, they miss their point guard Ryan Nembhard. The Friars, on the other hand, had 17 assists. The 17 dimes shows one of their best traits, they’re a TEAM!
3. Proper Send Off- The seniors honored before tip showed out during the game. Reeves had the biggest night, but everyone chipped in. Nate Watson chipped in 12 points and 5 rebounds. Watson maybe didn’t have the stats we may have thought going into the year but his buy in and selflessness this season has been critical to this wild ride. Justin Minaya added 11 rebounds and hounded Ryan Hawkins all night, while Al Durham added 12 points and 5 assists. Those two guys have only been here for one season but have won over Friar fans from the jump. PC fans will always like a guy that busts his ass on defense like Minaya does. Al is an absolute warrior, and his leadership has been instrumental. Horchler only had 4 point, but he dominated the glass especially in the first half. His development over the past 2 seasons has been awesome to watch. Finally after the crowd was chanting “we want Fonts” he came in and electrified the crowd. Even though he’s a walk-on Andrew Fonts truly exemplifies the Friar program and if you want to know what his teammates think of him take a look at their reaction when he scored.
These six seniors have truly left their mark PC and it will be tough to see them go but lucky for us the ride still continues.
4. Party Time- The Friars missed their first 5 shots in this one but once AJ’s first three swished, it seemed as if the party was on. The Friars took a 9 point lead into the half but came out on fire pushing the lead to 16 points, 5 minutes into the second half. When PC extended the lead to 21 with 7 minutes left the Dunk was bedlam. The party was officially on. Check out some of the scenes.
After the game, The Crier was at Trinity Brewhouse and there was jubilation amongst Friar fans. Think about the guys who paved the way in the Cooley Era- Henton, Cotton, Dunn, Bentil, Desrosiers, Bancroft among others. They built the foundation that could make Saturday night possible. The Crier has been a fan for 15 years and plenty of fans can say longer. Through the ups and downs most Friar fans have always stuck with the program. The players on this squad bought into the vision and have played for each other all year long. Their coaches have been there every step of the way. Now we can say we are Big East champions for the first time in history. The players, staff, and PC community deserved this. Us. We. Together. Family. Friars. CHAMPS!
PC finishes off the regular season at Villanova before making the trip to MSG for the Big East Tournament.