How could you send God to the NIT?
It happened last March as Providence freshman point guard God
Shammgod and the rest of the Friars looked on miserably from
their locker room while the NCAA tournament selection committee
burst their bubble. To make matters worse, ESPN cameras were on
hand to share the Friars' heartbreak with a national television
A newspaper photograph from that awful day, featuring Providence
teammates Austin Croshere and Michael Brown with heads in hands,
is now taped inside Croshere's locker, where he must examine it
every day. "I know that as sad as that moment was for me, it was
a hundred times worse for Michael because he was a senior," says
Croshere, studying the photograph. "Now I'm a senior, and I
won't let myself be in that same picture this March."
Don't bet against Croshere, a kid who in the summer of '95 beat
out Marcus Camby and John Wallace to make the U.S. team for the
World University Games even though at that point he had never
started a regular-season college game. As a junior last season
the 6'9" Croshere started every game and averaged a robust 15.3
points and 5.8 rebounds, but he didn't get complacent. Six days
a week this summer he sneaked into the campus gym through an
unlocked window to conduct rigorous solo workouts, the evidence
of which can be seen in his gym-rat pallor and heavier muscles.
"Most college kids have their brains going down 20 different
roads all at once," Friars coach Pete Gillen says. "Austin isn't
tempted to veer down Doughnut Avenue. He's driving straight down
Main Street all the time."
Even though the Friars' offense will revolve around Croshere,
it's always nice to know you have Shammgod on your side. The
Friars' point guard scored 9.6 points a game last season and
proved that God can create too, setting a Big East freshman
record for assists with 118, many coming off his trademark high
crossover dribble so reminiscent of his idol, former Syracuse
star Dwayne (Pearl) Washington. "I see myself as the head of a
snake," Shammgod says. "If I don't move, the team's not going
This season Shammgod will often dish inside to senior Derrick
(Flight) Brown, who averaged 14.8 points per game last season.
Shammgod is also hoping to improve his own shooting, especially
since his field goal percentage was 33.6% a year ago. He knows
that as the season progresses, this team with providence written
across the players' chests will need plenty of divine
intervention. No problem. The Friars' motto is tattooed on their
point guard's right biceps: IN GOD WE TRUST. --T.C.