Providence won a lot of games in 2008-09, going 10-8 in the Big East regular season and making it to the conference tournament quarterfinals before falling to Louisville. It won 19 games in a league that featured three teams earning No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
The problem was that not enough of those wins came against quality teams, and there were too many losses in there in non-conference play to make up for that. Providence went 2-8 against teams making the NCAA Tournament and finished the year 5-7 in its last 12 games. That sent the Friars to the NIT instead.
That wasn't a tremendous thrill, but it's a small consolation that the team will at least be at home in its opening game. Though the Friars are a No. 5 seed, it's No. 4 Miami that will be taking the trip to Rhode Island on Wednesday.
If nothing else, it gives the Providence senior class another game before the hometown crowd. Weyinmi Efejuku, Jeff Xavier, Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale and Randall Hanke have all come through with big games this season, and those five plus former classmate Sharaud Curry have led the team to a stellar season in coach Keno Davis' first year at the school.
Ultimately, it fell a couple of wins away from where the team hoped to be, but there's enough talent here to make a return trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT final four in a couple of weeks. If that happens, it will be hoping for better luck than it had the last time it was there, when it committed 26 turnovers in the loss to the Cardinals at the conference tourney.
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