SPECIAL GUEST IN THE BOOTH

     You never know who you’ll run into at the ballpark.  That’s one of the beauties of the game.  From the most anonymous fan in the world, to the President, Americans love baseball.  It came as no surprise that former Providence College Basketball Coach Pete Gillen was at McCoy the other day to watch the PawSox beat Indianapolis.  Gillen has a home on the Cape and says he stops at McCoy every time he is passing through to renew acquaintances with the friends he made while at P.C.  “Of course it’s sad that Ben Mondor is gone, but it’s great to see Mike and Lou.”  Gillen made friends with the PawSox brass while he served as head coach from 1994-1998.  Gillen told us that Ben Mondor, Mike Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer were the “best people I’ve ever met in sports in over 50 years as an athlete and a coach.”

     Gillen visited with us in the radio booth, spending a half inning with Dan Hoard and then with me on the air.  He told Dan that although he enjoys not coaching, he’d never rule out a return.  Pete is a college basketball analyst for CBS.  Gillen said he enjoyed his time in Rhode Island.  “I loved it here.  It’s a tremendous basketball community.  Joe Mullaney, Rick Pitino, Ernie D, Marvin Barnes, Kevin Stacom, Mike Riordan.  A great tradition.  I loved my four years here.  The people were wonderful.  They love basketball here.”

     Gillen fondly recollected the season he took the Friars to within a whisker of the final four.  “96-97, we had a special year.  Austin Croshere.  Rick Barnes recruited him and I inherited him and coached him for three years.  Ruben Garces, Jamel Thomas..we had a special team.  We beat Marquette in the first round, then we beat Duke.  We beat Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Then we faced Arizona.  They were beating us the whole game, then we came back.  We had two shots at going to the Final Four, but they beat us by 4 in overtime.  As you know, they went on to win the national title that season.”

     Gillen is optimistic about new Friars coach Ed Cooley, but he knows firsthand, how tough a job it is.  “Providence has great tradition, but it’s a challenge, in all candor.  It’s a small state and you don’t have a lot of players in the state.  You’ve got to go outside, to Boston, New York, Connecticut…It’s a challenging job, but I think it’s an excellent job.  Ed Cooley, who comes from my alma mater, Fairfield, is going to do a great job, but it’s going to take some time.”  Gillen seemes sincere in his praise for Cooley.  “Ed Cooley is a tremendous recruiter.  He’s a good person, solid.  I think he’s going to do a fine job.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s going to take a little bit of time, but I think he’s going to do well.”

     As our time together drew to a close, the always upbeat Gillen said so long.  “Great being with you guys.  You do a wonderful job.  I love baseball and you guys have a great place here in Pawtucket.”

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