Providence officially has a new head coach for its men's lacrosse program. This is truly exciting.*
Following a month-long search to find someone that isn't a longshoreman to live and work in Rhode Island, Providence Athletics Director Bob Driscoll picked Duke assistant coach Chris Gabrielli to drive the Friars into the murky future of Big East lacrosse. Driscoll, because he is an athletics administrator and is therefore full of optimism and hope and general cheeriness (until it comes time to fire some guy's ass for making him look like a buffoon), is ecstatic for the future of Providence lacrosse and where Gabrielli can take the program:
"I am thrilled to welcome Chris Gabrielli to the Friar family as head coach of our men's lacrosse program," Driscoll said. "His championship-level experience as an assistant coach, especially at Duke University, will aid him in the continued growth of our program here at Providence. The BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Conference is one of the premier leagues in the country, and our vision for the program is to compete for championships. I believe that Chris possesses all of the tools necessary to bring our lacrosse team to the next level."
Assuming -- and that's just about the biggest modifier since "Apollo 11: We think there may be something wrong with the tin can that you're pushing through deadly space" -- that Providence follows through with its commitment to build a new lacrosse stadium and locker room facility, Gabrielli's charge to move Providence into "a new era in Friar lacrosse" goes from "nearly impossible" to "labor-intensive sweating endeavor." Support for Gabrielli and the lacrosse program, like anywhere, is going to really determine just how successful the newly-minted head coach can be.
In the overall, though, Providence made a strong hire. Gabrielli is a life-long defensive disciple, having manned that end of the field while an undergraduate at Massachusetts and, most recently, serving as Duke's defensive guru for the past six seasons. He also has strong ties to the region, which is always important when it comes to establishing relationships and pulling kids into the program.
First-time head coaches, however, always have a bit of a learning curve and Gabrielli is going to need to adjust to that. He's had very good results as an assistant, but it's a different kind of animal when you're tasked with running the entire operation. (Especially an operation that has five wins in its last three seasons, saw a winless campaign in 2010, hasn't had a winning season since 2006, and is 43-81 since 2005. So, yeah. Good luck.)
With Gabrielli's hire, everyone's attention is now on Lafayette and Manhattan (and to a lesser degree Boston University and Monmouth), both of which are still looking to fill head coaching vacancies.
* Estimated excitement levels: +/- Indifference.