March 27, 2006
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Former Providence College men's basketball players Billy Donovan '87 and Jim Larranaga '71 are set to coach in what is believed to be the first modern era men's basketball match up between former Friars as Division I Head Coaches. With 334 Division I men's basketball teams, the odds of these two head coaches meeting in the Final Four is approximately 1 in 30,000.
Donovan and his Florida Gators will face Larranaga and the George Mason Patriots in the NCAA Division I men's basketball Final Four on Saturday, April 1 in Indianapolis, Ind. The tip off is set for 6:07 p.m., EST. The only other men's basketball meetings between former Friars is believed to come in the mid-1940s as Friars' Head Coach Larry Drew '46 faced Ted McConnon '43 at Saint Anselm's. The squads squared off three times with their last meeting coming on March 1, 1949 at the Boston Garden.
Former Friar Dave Gavitt was a guest on WEEI's Dale and Holly Monday morning, March 27, and commented on the PC hoops connection. "It's really a terrific thing for Providence College", Gavitt stated. "On behalf of Providence College, for a small school, to have two of their fine alumni and their fine players having taken teams to the Final Four and coaching against each other, that's pretty neat."
During his time with the Friars, Donovan helped lead Providence to the Final Four in 1987. A starting guard and captain under the direction of then-Head Coach Rick Pitino, Donovan averaged 20.6 points and 7.1 assists per game his senior year. Inducted into the PC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, he still holds PC's single-season three-point field goal mark with 97 threes set in 1987, a feat accomplished during the first year of the three-point shot. Donovan totaled 1,328 points during his collegiate playing career, a figure which currently ranks 15th all-time at the college. Earlier this season on December 6th, Donovan and the Gators faced the Friars to mark the first time he coached against his alma mater in Providence.
Larranaga played three varsity seasons with the Friars and was a senior captain under the direction of then-Head Coach Dave Gavitt. A three-time NABC All-New England selection, he also earned the team's Jimmy Walker MVP Award in 1970. Larranaga led the team in scoring twice, including his sophomore season where he was named the New England Sophomore of the Year as he averaged 19.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He still holds the PC record for most assists in a game by a junior with 15. As a senior Larranaga helped guide PC to a 20-8 record and a berth in the N.I.T. He mainly played guard his first two seasons, then was switched to forward for his final two years. Larranaga was inducted into the PC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Larranaga totaled 1,258 points during his collegiate playing career, a figure which currently ranks 18th all-time at PC. He was passed this season by senior Donnie McGrath (Katonah, N.Y.) who scored 1,282 points. Upon his graduation, Larranaga ranked fifth in scoring, fifth in assists (238) and 10th in rebounds (460).
On its road to the Final Four, SEC Tournament champion Florida defeated South Alabama (76-50), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (82-60), Georgetown (57-53) and Villanova (75-62). In writing its cinderella story, at-large entrant George Mason has knocked off Michigan State (75-65), North Carolina (65-60), Wichita State (63-55) and Connecticut (86-84 in overtime).
Donovan's Career Stats at Providence
Larranaga's Career Stats at Providence
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