Stonehill Graduate Ed Cooley New PC Basketball Coach
March 23, 2011
by Jim Fenton
His association with college basketball began two decades ago at Merkert Gym on the campus of Stonehill College.
Ed Cooley was a freshman forward on a team that was nicknamed the Chieftains in the 1989-90 season, recruited to the Easton school following a stellar career at Central High School in Providence.
After playing four years and serving as a captain twice at Stonehill, Cooley stayed connected with college basketball, working as an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in the 1994-95 season and returning to his alma mater to be an assistant in the 1995-96 season.
Those coaching jobs were the start of a career that took Cooley to the University of Rhode Island and Boston College where he was Al Skinner's assistant and on to Fairfield University where he was the head coach the past five seasons.
Now, Cooley, a 1994 Stonehill graduate, is in charge of a program in the challenging Big East Conference.
Cooley was hired on Tuesday to be the head coach at Providence College, not far from where he grew up before enrolling at Stonehill.
As he climbed the coaching ladder, from URI to BC to Fairfield, Cooley always remembered his roots at Stonehill, the place that got him going in college basketball.
David DeCiantis was an assistant coach at Stonehill during Cooley's playing career and, after becoming the head coach in the 1995-96 season, hired him to be an assistant. DeCiantis, who remains close with Cooley, saw a bright future for him back then.
"I didn't necessarily see Ed making a career out of coaching, but I knew whatever he was going to do, because of his personality, he would rise to the top,'' said DeCiantis. "At that time, he was teaching school. I could see Ed one day being a principal of a large high school. He has an outstanding personality and a great work ethic.
"People gravitate to Ed Cooley because he's just a really well-liked person. He's genuine. When he was at Stonehill, he was basically the mayor of Stonehill. He's just a great guy.
"You won't find anyone who is upset or jealous about Ed getting this great job at Providence College. I think everyone was rooting for him. I think Ed's excited about it. It's a real challenge for him.''
Cooley came to Stonehill after winning a pair of Rhode Island championships at Central High. A back injury while at Stonehill led to surgery following his second season, and Cooley received a medical redshirt in the 1991-92 season.
"His back started to bother him as a sophomore and he was never quite the same player,'' said DeCiantis. "He was a very, very, very good rebounder. I think if the back didn't affect Ed, I think he would have been a starter his whole career and an all-league player as a senior. He could have been one of those guys who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game.''
At Fairfield, in his first head coaching assignment, the 41-year-old Cooley went 92-69 and the Stags won at least 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Fairfield won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season title and reached the second round of the NIT, losing to Kent State on Sunday.
The Stags (25-8) set a school record for wins this season, and Cooley was named the MAAC coach of the year after winning the first title since 1995-96.
Cooley, the 15th head coach in PC history, replaces Keno Davis, who was fired earlier this month. The Friars have won only eight of their last 38 Big East games and were 15-17 this season.
It will be up to Cooley to turn the struggling program around, something he did at Fairfield.
"He had done a great job at Boston College with recruiting and Al gave him a lot of responsibility,'' said DeCiantis. "When he got his chance at Fairfield, he was ready. He did a great job of recruiting there.
"I'm assuming he's going to do the same thing at Providence, go out and get good players who are good people. He'll sell the program and people will want to come there.''
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