Quote Center: Providence Postgame vs. Villanova

Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ed Cooley

Isaiah Jackson

Providence Friars

Villanova - 73, Providence - 62

THE MODERATOR: Providence is here. Isaiah Jackson with Coach Ed Cooley.

ED COOLEY: The highs and lows, you know. Definitely thought we had great energy coming out. I thought we had a great game plan. I thought in the second half, particularly the last ten minutes, was kind of what our year has been, up and down, make a shot here, keep it close. You know, I thought Villanova's -- in particular, Paschall, Gillespie, and Booth -- did a good job leading their team, and there are other guys that play a great role for them.

I was proud of our guys. I thought our effort was good. I thought our energy was great. We just made too many mistakes. We made a lot of costly mistakes, especially late, and they capitalized on them. We didn't have an opportunity to -- you know, to make the right adjustment as far as physically, and they took advantage of it. Sometimes you have these games, but in tournament play, you've got to play your best. Today the best team advanced and look forward to seeing where our next step will be.

Q. Coach, Alpha Diallo was very efficient today, but it never seemed like he was involved enough in the offense for you guys to win. Did you feel like that was the case?
ED COOLEY: You know, I think you've got to give Villanova a lot of credit. They know he's a focal point for us. I thought he had some looks that he normally makes, but I think you've got to credit Villanova on what they did defensively.

Q. Ed, you had 44-44 in the second half and they went on a little spurt. What happened there? Was it just a matter of you guys with a couple turnovers and then they made some shots?
ED COOLEY: In that sequence, if I can remember correctly, we had a really big transition layup that we missed, really big, and then they came and hit a three, and we turned the ball over the next possession. When you play like that against those teams, they're very methodical. They're older. It's hard to make a comeback on that.

Q. Positives out of this game and toward the end of the season? Coach Wright said that your team was starting to come around. Do you feel that? Do you have optimism about the rest of the season?
ED COOLEY: I'm always optimistic. Part of athletics, you're going to lose, but I'm proud of our guys. I definitely think we improved as the year went on. I thought guys got comfortable in their roles. I thought we made the right adjustments to keep us moving forward. I'm proud of our guys.

It was an up-and-down year, but there's a lot of things to be happy about. I think our future is incredibly bright. I think the league is in great hands. I think the league is very healthy with how young we are. It's easy to get up here and piss and moan after a loss, but at the same time, you have to recognize the job that Villanova did. They were the veteran team. They were the more physical team today. They deserved the win, and we didn't.

Q. Ed, do you think your team is in position now to get an NIT bid?
ED COOLEY: We talked to the team about that, and quite frankly, I was very direct with the team. We earned exactly what we got this year. If we get into the NIT, I'll be excited about it because I still want to play with this young group. If we don't, we've got to look ourselves in the mirror. We deserve to be in that 8-9 game. That was our body of work.

If we get in, I'll be very excited. I hope we do. If we're not, I'm going to be really proud of the guys and the effort that they had. But we left a lot of games on the table with our inconsistent approach in some of the games.

Q. Hey, Ed, just going off of that, with going into a tournament like the NIT, how much of a benefit would that be for some of your younger players just to get postseason experience like that?
ED COOLEY: The Big East Tournament really helps with that, the fact that we got a couple of games under our belt with that really gives them something to look forward to.

We'll learn from this if we have an opportunity to play another game as far as a lot of the mistakes that we made, but there was a lot of positives today, too, to come back. I don't know if we took the lead. I think we tied it. I don't know if we ever got over the hump.

But we'll draw some positive from this. You know, the negative is we lost.

Q. You talked a couple times this year just about how challenging it was for you as a coach, just with the ups and downs. I'm curious if you learned anything about yourself as a coach this year that you want to share.
ED COOLEY: I did, and I think that's a great question. I learned I can't get frustrated early. I think I have to coach with a little bit more joy for the game and not anger when we're developing such a young group. I think that got in the way a little bit. Sometimes in some of the games, if I'm being self-critical, I'll learn that there's a long season, and you've got to go with the ups and downs. It's better to be more loving than frustrated.

Q. For Isaiah, just thoughts on this game today, Isaiah, and also on your career at Providence and playing in the Big East Conference.
ISAIAH JACKSON: My thoughts on today's game, I feel like we came out and we fought hard. They kind of came out and was way more physical than we were in the beginning. I feel like the second half, we made adjustments and came out and gave ourselves a chance and just lack of discipline in the second half kind of hurt us -- late switches, miscommunication, offensive rebounds, threes -- it just killed us in the second half and first half.

But on my career, I love Providence College. I appreciate everything that they've done for me, especially this man on the left. Thank you for bringing me into this family. I really appreciate that.

ED COOLEY: Appreciate that.

ISAIAH JACKSON: And I'll always be a Friar.

Q. Do you ever feel like they're flying under the radar? They're the defending national champs. Everybody is talking about Duke and Zion, SportsCenter. It's almost like people think Duke is going to win automatically. Does it help Villanova in some ways that they're kind of flying under the radar here?
ED COOLEY: I'm not big on listening to naysayers. Villanova's a great program. They're a great team. I really don't watch a lot of the other leagues. I concentrate on what's happening in ours.

I do think they're undervalued. When you play them, you run into a really physical, methodical, tough team. And, again, with some of the television stations, it could be alienated purposely. I'm really appreciative of what Fox does for us, but when you look at our league top to bottom, this was a league where many of us struggled based on our youth and all the people that we lost.

The league will be a monster again next year. We'll be in this room again next year having the same conversation. Villanova will be good. Providence will be good. Xavier will be good. Creighton will be good. St. John's will be good. Butler will be good. So for everybody who doesn't think Villanova is still one of the elite teams in the country, wait until they play them.

Joseph Jarzynka