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When it came time to find a replacement for Davis, Providence president Father Brian Shanley and athletic director Bob Driscoll brought in former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese for help with the search.

It didn’t last very long.

“Father and I put together our list, and Michael Tranghese put together his list, and our top five were the same. But most notably, the top candidate on each list was Ed Cooley,” Driscoll said. “We wanted someone who will be a teacher, mentor and coach. Ed Cooley was across the top of our lists.

“I wanted somebody who had built something out of nothing. His players absolutely love him and respect him.”

Cooley, who was an assistant at Boston College before taking the Fairfield position, preaches defense. The Stags (25-8) were second in the country this year in points allowed per game.

“We want to have the most dominant, physical team not just this year, not next year, but every year,” he said. “We want our off-court behavior to match our on-court behavior. Make your free throws. Make sure you go to class. We play in the toughest conference in the country and we’re going to be on top of it.”

After Cooley finished the press conference, he met his new players for the first time, a day after he had an emotional final meeting with his former players.

“I’m not running from Fairfield University,” he said. “I’m sprinting home.”