PC’s A.J. Reeves is one of only two players with a taste of rivalry game vs. URI (Photo: PC Athletics
By BUNKY McCOY
They began playing in the 1920-21 season, these two old in-state rivals that will meet
Saturday afternoon at a sold-out Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
It’s a rivalry that’s seen players and coaches come and go, along with Presidents and countless
wars. Once upon a time, the Friars and Rams used to play twice a year. Alumni Hall and Keaney Gym, those were the days my friend. Then along came the Big East which PC and Dave Gavitt helped found and make a turn to the future that left URI in the wilderness of Kingston.
Through all the changes, it remains the biggest game on the state’s sports calendar – an early Christmas gift to the two fanbases who have never spared the rod when it comes to trading barbs. For don’t forget that this game is not about Nate Watson or Jeremy Sheppard, or even David Cox and Ed Cooley. It’s for the fans, because college sports are all about hated rivals. Just as Auburn-Alabama, Michigan-Ohio State, ect.
This is our game, the fans of the State of Rhode Island. We remain a college basketball state, even though the main focus has long shifted to the Boston pro teams and made us some suburban outpost that looks the same as Worcester, Springfield or Manchester, N.H.
What some denizens of our fair state can’t seem to grasp is that this is far from the biggest game on either team’s schedule. It may be the biggest non-league game in some years, but try VCU and St. Bonaventure for the Rams and
Villanova and UConn for the Friars. Those are the games that truly count on each team’s schedule and will help determine whether either is an NCAA Tourney hopeful or not.
Bottom line? Let’s enjoy the state’s latest version of a passion play that’s contested out on the
hardwood, for it only comes once per year (when there’s not a global pandemic).
• Michael Wacha. Rich Hill. Jackie Bradley Jr. Yes, baseball’s work stoppage meant the Red Sox
needed to be proactive, yet it is just me or is front-office boss Chaim Bloom spending a little too
much time shopping in Dollar General?
• Wacha hasn’t been effective since the 2013 World Series when he was on the St. Louis team
that lost to Boston. Hill is a nice story, being a local guy, yet he’ll turn 42 before Opening Day.
As for Bradley, all you need to know about his lone season in Milwaukee is that he posted a
negative 0.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). That ain’t very good Bunky.
• Bottom line, this Sox team is now a lot closer to the 2020 version that finished last than the
2021 group that finished two wins shy of winning the A.L. pennant. Remember these words next
summer when you’re sitting in an uncomfortable seat and chomping on an overpriced hot dog
at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.
• QUIZ OF THE WEEK: I am the only person in NHL history to win the Norris Trophy, the Art Ross
Trophy, the Hart Trophy, and the Conn Smythe Trophy in the same year. Who am I? (Answer
near the bottom of the column.)
• LINE OF THE WEEK comes from former Providence Journal sports columnist Jim Donaldson via
• Speaking of our current Governor, a group called the R.I. Freedom Fighters came out with a
poster that’s titled, “Dr. Scott: How The Unelected Governor Stole Christmas” that’s
accompanied by McKee’s face plastered on the Grinch’s body.
• Proof that we can’t have anything nice in this state was on full display Wednesday when
Get-A-Lifers showed up on the south lawn of the State House as the Christmas tree was lit.
• Did you see where former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan participated in Friday’s tree
lighting ceremony at Providence City Hall? Question is, where was Tonya Harding?
• QUIZ ANSWER: Bobby Orr in 1970.
• In need of a feel-good story? Look no further than the WPRI Ch. 12 story on the Acciardo
father-son team that’s rooted in back flips and sources of inspiration. Kudos to sports gal Rosie
Langello for being part Barbara Walters, part Roy Firestone. As Paul Harvey once quipped,
“Now you know the rest of the story.”
• Let’s not forget about the Patriots and the big test that awaits them Monday night in Buffalo.
Hope Florida native/Alabama product Mac Jones packed his hand warmers. The Bills Mafia awaits.
• My holiday shopping is almost done, yet I’m open to suggestions on what to get the
Independent Man. Maybe Gov. McKee put his name in for the COVID bonus list.
• Prediction: PC 65, URI 54. Expect a big game from Nate Watson.