The Georgetown University men’s basketball program brought onboard a new head coach to right the ship next season, as they have plucked Ed Cooley away from Big East foe Providence College.
Prior to his twelve-year stint manning the Friars, Cooley was the head coach at none other than Fairfield University, as he led the Stags for five seasons, from 2006 to 2011. Cooley finished his time at Fairfield with an overall record of 92-69, to go along with a 58-32 conference record. His first two seasons in Fairfield featured some growing pains, as he went 13-19 and 14-16 in 2006-07 and 2007-08, respectively. He secured his first winning season in 2008-09, with a 17-15 record.
His last two seasons in Stag Country gave the program some of its most successful seasons in recent memory, as he led the Stags to a 23-11 record in 2009-10, finishing second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) that season with a 13-5 record. The big strides Fairfield took that season earned them an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) that season. Fairfield made it to the quarterfinals after a thrilling overtime win over George Mason University in the opening round, winning that contest, 101-96. He also guided Fairfield to a miraculous comeback, overcoming a 27-point halftime deficit to shock George Mason. The Stags came up short vs Creighton University, taking the loss, 73-55 in the process.
The Stags built on their previous seasons’ success by finishing in first place in the MAAC with a 15-3 conference record, while going 25-8 overall. After being upset by Saint Peter’s University in the MAAC tournament, the Stags were invited to the 2011 National Invitation Tournament. The Stags found some success in the NIT, winning a hard-fought battle against Colorado State, 62-60, before coming up short in the next round to Kent State, 72-68. Cooley soon departed Fairfield to take the head coaching job at Providence on March 22, 2011.
In his twelve seasons at Providence, Cooley revitalized a floundering program and brought them back to a solid degree of respectability. After two rebuilding years, Cooley guided the Friars to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, before appearing in the 2019 NIT. Despite their success, Providence never advanced past the Round of 32, and only found itself climbing out of the Round of 64 just once. Providence returned to the Big Dance in 2021 after finishing atop the Big East conference standings that season with a 14-3 conference record while going 27-6 overall. This was Cooley’s most successful season on the job, as the Friars advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after defeating the likes of South Dakota State University in the round of 64 and the University of Richmond in the round of 32. The University of Kansas, led by future NBA first-round picks Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun, came on top of the Friars, 66-61, in a hard-fought matchup. Kansas went on to win the National championship that season, but out of all of the opponents they faced leading up to their title, the Friars gave them the biggest scare, squeaking by them by only five points.
Cooley returned for one more season, which culminated in another NCAA tournament appearance before falling short to the University of Kentucky, then bolting for Georgetown. Cooley will look to turn around a Georgetown program that desperately needs to regain its identity after a tumultuous decade that has seen struggles under former coaches John Thompson III and Patrick Ewing. It is also notable to see a former coach at Fairfield not only secure a position at a respectable program such as Georgetown but also accept a job at another Jesuit university. It may take some time for Georgetown to be admirable again, but Cooley knows how to build a winning program and culture, which he demonstrated at both Fairfield and Providence.