WASHINGTON (AP) — Ed Cooley figures he has a pretty good idea of what to expect when he brings his current team, Georgetown, to play at the home of his former team, Providence, in a Big East matchup Saturday that’ll serve as a sort of homecoming for the basketball coach.
“I’m probably going to be heckled. Ridiculed. Signs, posters, booing,” Cooley said. “I’m going to take that as a ‘Thank you, Coach. I appreciate you helped create this.’”
“Here’s my reaction to it: It’s like a divorce. What divorce ends amicably? It doesn’t. They loved Ed Cooley and Ed Cooley loved them. And so when the love kind of broke off — or he decided to go and pursue something that he wanted to do; he felt it was time to leave — I knew that would kind of be a natural reaction. Because they loved Coach. They dearly loved him. And because he did a lot for them,” said Ivan Thomas, who was with Cooley at Providence and is now his associate head coach at Georgetown. “So they just couldn’t understand how he could make a decision that he needed to make for his life and that … he earned that right (to make) because of what he did for the city.”
The reaction in Providence when Cooley left in March — and what might be heard and seen on Saturday in that school’s arena 10 months later — stemmed from what was seen by some as a betrayal.
Cooley was, after all, the first men’s basketball coach to move directly from one Big East school to another. (Another former Providence coach, Rick Pitino, is now at St. John’s.)
“Presidents have done it. Athletic directors have done it. I think the anger is I used the word ‘never,’ which was a mistake, because ‘never’ is forever. I have to learn to be cautious with words,” Cooley said. “I’m from the city. Born in the city. And I can feel the angst.”
He knew he was undertaking quite a project at Georgetown and his current team enters this game with an 8-11 record, including 1-7 in Big East play and 1-5 on the road. The Hoyas are currently on a four-game losing streak; they were beaten 90-66 by Butler on Tuesday in their most recent outing.
Georgetown is 10th in the 11-team league, ahead only of DePaul, which is winless in Big East play and 3-16 overall and just fired its coach.
Under Cooley’s successor, Kim English, who left George Mason to coach the Friars, Providence is 13-6, 4-4 in the league, and has won two games in a row.
“I know the fans have emotion,” English said, looking ahead to Saturday, “but our focus is going to be on the court.”
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