PROVIDENCE — College basketball’s omnipresent transfer market has proved to be a vital source for the Providence Friars to “stay old” — a belief that coach Ed Cooley has sworn by in his desire to build rosters that aren’t overly reliant on youthful inexperience.
With two transfers who sat out last season set to be eligible (Noah Horchler, Jared Bynum) and two additional players in PC’s fold after starting off somewhere else (Brycen Goodine, Ed Croswell), Cooley is more than qualified to opine on the pros and cons of what continues to be one of the game’s hot-button topics.
“I go back and forth. It’s almost like I’m on the fence,” Cooley said during an appearance on Jon Rothstein’s latest College Hoops Today podcast.
In May, the NCAA elected to push off a proposed one-time transfer waiver that would allow college athletes to transfer and be immediately eligible at their new school until at least the 2021-22 academic year. For the longest time, it was understood that if an athlete transferred, they adhered to a penance of sitting out the next season.
“Number one, I think sitting out helps kids. If you have a blanket no-sit-out [rule], you don’t allow kids to develop and learn or get them to face adversity,” Cooley said. “As you see what America is going through right now, we’re going to go through tough times. There’s always an easy option, but I also understand that we as coaches can come and go as we want. I get what our players say. I get what parents say. I get what the national perception is, yet there is no substitute for patience.
“I think when kids are patient and work through adversity … I’ve never coached a player in my 27 years [as a college coach, assistant and head] where if they hung in there, it worked out,” Cooley added. “In today’s day and age, kids are looking for the easy road. That’s why you see kids [going to] multiple high schools and multiple AAU programs. Nobody wants to stick it out and compete to get better.
“If you’re in a situation where it’s just not working, I understand that. I understand that kids have the right to come and go as they please,” Cooley added. “I’m hoping kids can hang in there, stay the course and work through adversity. When you do that, I believe your life is better.”
Shifting gears to the transfers in the Friars’ fold, Cooley is adamant that Horchler (via North Florida) and Bynum (via St. Joseph’s) will pay instant dividends. The coaching staff was impressed with Horchler’s ability to get stronger during last season’s downtime from game competition while Bynum should slide in as the primary floor general.
“Finishes through contact and has explosive legs,” Cooley said about the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Horchler, who will have one year to play for Providence. “He can play a couple of different positions … inside and outside.”
Cooley described the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Bynum, who has three seasons of eligibility at PC, “as a natural point guard. He’s learned how we want to play and what we want to do. His ability to communicate is terrific.”
The interview with Rothstein also included Cooley’s thoughts about the Big East jumping from 18 to 20 league games with the return of UConn. In a nutshell, the presence of the Huskies on the schedule means that Big East schools can steer clear of two nonconference games that might impact a team’s NET ranking in a negative way.
Since the league’s configuration, Big East basketball programs have adhered to a home-and-away format. The presence of an 11th Big East member will not disrupt that.
“It still keeps our league as one of the few in the country with a round-robin format,” Cooley said.
Last Thursday, the Big East announced that its membership will not participate in nonconference games in its six fall sports this year. A decision on what Big East-only fall 2020 games might look like is still forthcoming.
As part of the same news release, the Big East stated the 2020-21 winter and spring sports seasons remain unaffected at this time.
“My feelings are worry and anxiety,” Cooley said when asked by Rothstein if he believes college basketball’s season will start on time. “To ease our pain, we have to be flexible and patient and go with what’s being said. Follow the doctors and stay healthy and stay together. Continue to inspire your group when you get in front of them on these Zoom calls.”