A group of women's basketball players in a huddle.

UPDATED: Sports in RI: PC Women’s Head Basketball Coach, Jim Crowley – John Cardullo

by John Cardullo, sportswriter

Photo: Providence College athletics

Update: On March 7th, Providence College announced Coach Crowley and the college have agreed to part company – not quite 1 month from when this article was written. In a statement to the Providence Journal, Crowley said, “I want to thank the administration for giving me the opportunity to lead the program over the last seven years,” Crowley said. “Providence College is a special place and I have really enjoyed my time here, but this is the right time for both me and the program to change course. I’m grateful for my staff, the players — past and present — and the support from our loyal community.”

Providence College Women’s Head Basketball Coach Jim Crowley loves where he is now, coaching a big-time program playing in an elite conference and making a difference in his community.

When the Providence College women’s basketball team named Jim Crowley their head basketball coach back in 2016 (the team’s 10th head coach in their history), they were hoping that the success of the coaches past would help lift the Friars to compete in the BIG EAST on a nightly basis against some of the top women’s basketball programs in the country. Not only have the Friars competed, but they have also been successful both on and off the court in his seven years at the helm of the Friars.

To truly know how far Coach Crowley has come, you must go back to the beginning. In 1993 Coach Crowley graduated from Keuka College, located in Windsor, New York, the same place where he was a four-year letterman in men’s basketball. In his three seasons as the head women’s basketball coach, the “Storm” a Division III school, had an overall record of 39-37. On his second season his team went 18-10 and made it to the ECAC championship.

Crowley left Keuka to become an Assistant Coach at St. Bonaventure and after his sixth season as an assistant under Head Coach Marti Whitmore, he was named the Head Coach of the Bonnies where he remained for 16 seasons, from 2000 to 2016. While at St. Bonaventure, Crowley’s teams won 20 or more win six times, and he was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year three times (2009, 2012 and 2014). He was named the Coach of the Year by in 2012. He coached his teams to their first 20-win season, and their first ever post-season appearance in 2009. His Bonnies went on to six post-season appearances, which included two invitations to the NCAA Tournament. In 2012, the team made it to the Sweet 16 round, and in 2016 his team made it to the second round. St. Bonaventure played in the WNIT in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Being a self-described “Northeast guy”, he jumped at the chance to move from the Atlantic 10 to the BIG EAST. With his wife, Monti, their daughter Jocelyn, and sons Patrick, Sean, and Luke he headed to Providence College and the BIG EAST. (Luke completed his degree at Providence College and also did his graduate work and served as a grad assistant manager for the men’s basketball team). “I was aware that the position would be demanding and challenging,” Crowley said. One of the appealing factors was that Providence College was smaller than most teams in the BIG EAST and he loved the location and community of Providence College. “The players we looked at recruiting had to be mentally tough. The season isn’t always about basketball. Academics, a vigorous travel schedule, and the ability for the players to balance their basketball and studies while maintaining their eligibility is a top priority for this program.”

While some other BIG EAST programs can be attractive to many players, Providence College showcases the Providence College campus, and the lifestyle both on and off campus that the student athletes may find enjoyable and attractive. “We like to convince them that the institution of the school and the education that they receive here, while playing basketball at Providence College and in the BIG EAST is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The Coach confesses that recruiting is a consistent part of being involved with a big-time program. “We usually take some time off to re-organize and re-energize from the end of the season until May, and work non-stop until August. But we are constantly reviewing, analyzing, evaluating and recruiting. We try to target the right players and develop them to reach their maximum potential. Every competitor wants to play at the highest level as possible.” The entire coaching staff stands behind this mission and is committed to getting their student athlete to be the best she can be.”

Crowley, his staff, and the team have made attending a Providence College Women’s basketball game an intimate experience, with fans are very close to the action on the court. The on-campus venue, Alumni Hall, has been the site of many memorable evenings for both the Women’s and Men’s teams over the years and the team has embraced the history of their venue.

When the game is over and the teams retreat into their locker rooms, it isn’t uncommon for fans to remain in the arena and shoot baskets and even meet the players. Community involvement and interaction is something the players enjoy. Setting up local clinics and camps for future basketball players is all part of the process of the teams off the court outreach development.

Under Crowley’s guidance, the Friars have earned wins in the BIG EAST tournament three of the last four years, which hasn’t been accomplished since the early 1990’s. In the 2018-19 season the team finished with a 19-15 overall record and advanced to the Sweet 16 round in the WNIT. This season the team is currently at 13-13 overall but are 4-11 in conference play.  The team has 5 conference games left before heading into the BIG EAST tournament on March 3rd. Coach Crowley remains optimistic as the team heads into the end of regular season play, and expects the team to play well at the BIG EAST conference tournament March 3rd through March 6th at Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Connecticut.


John Cardullo, sportswriter

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