The next generation of Friarbasketball is here!
Later this summer, Friarbasketball.com will transition to a weekly newsletter and content release in an effort to provide Providence coverage in a unique and informative manner.
One of the most important lessons I learned since starting Friarbasketball.com came on Dec. 28, 2012. Providence was playing in Brown’s Pizzitola Sports Center for the first time in years, and I was so excited to see the Friars play in a gym of 2,800 fans.
Brown hooked us up with a terrific spot along press row (“Us” being Craig Leighton, who had joined the site earlier in the year, and Craig Belhumer, who came aboard a year prior to Craig L.). It was set to be a perfectly unique basketball experience and a fun article to write.
I didn’t make it to Brown’s campus that night, however, as there was another story to chase.
As much as I wanted to go to the game, Friar signee Brandon Austin was taking on All American Rondae Hollis-Jefferson that night in Philadelphia. I knew the Craigs would have us covered at Brown, and not many people had seen Austin play. I also knew that if I could get footage of Austin vs. Hollis-Jefferson we could roll out coverage of both PC/Brown and Austin/Rondae all in one morning -- a range of content that simply couldn’t be found anywhere.
The weekend didn’t unfold as I had hoped. PC lost to Brown, and Austin laid a bit of an egg. I did catch footage of Hollis-Jefferson throwing an alley oop to himself off the backboard, but held off on posting the highlight -- a clip that The Basketball Diary published that night and got half a million views and a credit on SportsCenter for. I wrote a lengthy recap of Austin’s game, posted ten minutes of highlights, then drove home from Philly to Boston in a blizzard. It was awful.
When the hellish ride was finally over, I hopped onto my laptop to read about the PC game and catch the reaction to my video and article. The first thing I read was an online commenter essentially telling me that my scouting report of Austin was asinine.
Outraged, I figured I’d find an ally in my wife. What kind of ahole, I asked her, wouldn’t appreciate all I’d gone through to get video footage and provide an in-person report like this?
My wife was sympathetic but kept it simple: “You're only responsible for your actions, not how people react to them.”
She was right, of course. This guy didn’t owe me anything because I decided to drive to Philadelphia in the middle of the winter to write about a high school basketball game.
But, I also knew there were many others who both recognized and appreciated the effort. There were people, like me, who lived for that kind of content. That’s who I was writing for -- the diehards who lived for Providence basketball -- all aspects of the program -- in the same way that I did.
That’s who I always wrote for.
I’m proud of so many things we have done at Friarbasketball.com since 2009, mostly how many times the site evolved -- from adding staff, to improvements to video content, to podcasts, redesigns, and hopefully changing the way in which independent sites like ours are viewed by the fanbase.
In hindsight, there was a period in which I felt as though we lost sight of what made the site unique. Ironically, that came during the site’s peak in terms of viewership and engagement. Increasing viewership is supposed to be the goal, but for me it was never about the fans who “liked” our headlines on Facebook, but skimmed the articles. It was always about engaging with the fans who knew every last in and out of the program -- those were the people I targeted when I started. People who love the program like I do.
And those are the readers that I am hoping will come with us on the next phase of Friarbasketball.com.
The site has transitioned to Substack where we will have a weekly newsletter and content release. I told Kyle Jose (our video content lead) a year ago that my dream would be to pull together some sort of an online magazine that covers Providence basketball. I grew up reading Sports Illustrated, and I am hoping to recreate the excitement of that one day a week in which I knew I was going to pour through all sorts of terrific content. I want to provide the why behind the what of Providence College basketball, with more feature articles, deep dives on statistics, a weekly look around the Big East, mailbags, discourse, and a return to more in-person New England recruiting updates.
I have written over 2,000 articles on the Friars since 2009, Craig Leighton over 1,200, and I am hoping that you have enjoyed the content enough to come with us and Kyle on the next step in our site’s journey.
While some of the content will remain free on this new forum (roughly 30%), full access will be available to subscribers at a rate of $5 per month.
I have gone back and forth for some time about doing something along these lines, as I worried about turning off longtime readers. My hope is that we have built up enough loyalty and goodwill over the past eleven years that our readers trust that we will do this the right way.
We are forever grateful for your support of our site, and I can’t tell you how energized I feel about taking our content in this direction.
Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.
In the meantime, tell your friends!