HOMEGROWN: THE MAKING OF THE 1972-73 PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS
It's hard to believe that in just a couple of years, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the PC Friars' magic carpet ride to the 1973 Final Four of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. In fact, those Rhode Islanders who were around at that time will recall that PC was within a whisker of making it to a Finals showdown with the mighty Bill Walton-led UCLA Bruins. Unfortunately, in a semi-final game against Memphis, in which PC jumped out to an early lead, the Friars' dominant big man, Marvin Barnes, went down with an injury, short-circuiting PC' fast break offense, which was jumpstarted by Barnes' otherworldly rebounding ability.
What made this Friar team so remarkable was that it was led by two superstars players who were both local, homegrown talent. Both Marvin Barnes and Ernie DiGregorio turned down opportunities to play for larger, more prestigious colleges, choosing to stay close to home and play at Providence College instead. Not only were these two players Rhode Island natives, but so was their coach. Although Dave Gavitt grew up in Peterborough New Hampshire, what even some ardent Friar fans may not know is that he was born in Westerly, RI. When he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2006, for all that he did in the game of basketball, but particularly for his role in the creation of the Big East Conference, he became the first Rhode Islander to be enshrined.
Despite being an "outsider," from Queens, NY, Kevin Stacom's path to Providence was the direct result of a connection he had with a former Friar player. As a Crusader on the Holy Cross basketball team, Stacom had a solid sophomore season. However, when he felt growing uncertainty with the direction of the school's athletic programs, he confided in a friend suggested he transfer to PC. The friend was Mike Riordan, the late 1960s Friar star who also hailed from Stacom's high school. Stacom was unquestionably a great Friar and a supremely talented player, and even though he may not have been assigned superstar status à la Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes, no one could dispute that he was a vital component to the success of 1972-73 team. In fact, he was considered by many to be the glue that unified all the talent that Providence possessed that season, helping the team solidify their place in history.