May 3, 2023
Head coach Erin Batth ready to usher in ‘a new era of Providence basketball’
Batth hopes to elevate Friars program to BIG EAST prominence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — There was a palpable buzz in Alumni Hall as Providence College introduced new head coaches for both its men’s and women’s basketball programs. Many in the audience of diehard Friars fans were there to measure up Kim English, the new men’s basketball coach. This wasn’t just English’s moment, though, which became clear the moment new women’s basketball head coach Erin Batth began to speak.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Batth as she addressed the crowd. “I cannot tell you — it’s been a long time coming, but the time is right now, right now. It is great to be here today welcoming a new era of Providence basketball.”
Batth takes over the Friars program after several years of NCAA Division 1 coaching experience. Most recently, she spent a season at Michigan as an assistant to head coach Kim Barnes Arico. With Batth as an assistant, the Wolverines claimed a No. 6 seed in the tournament, good for second-best in program history. The team was ranked nationally for nine consecutive weeks, rising as high as number 12, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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Prior to her season in Ann Arbor, Batth worked as an assistant to Wes Moore at NC State (2018-22), during which time the Wolfpack clinched three-straight ACC Tournament titles for the first time in program history. Prior to her stint with the Wolfpack, Batth was also an assistant at Liberty (2017-18), Georgia State (2014-17), Tennessee Tech (2012-14) and Towson (2010-12).
Stepping on campus, Coach Batth has her work cut out for her to return Providence women’s basketball to BIG EAST prominence. A member of the BIG EAST conference since it had women’s basketball in 1982, Providence College used to be one of the top teams in the conference. The program boasts three BIG EAST regular season titles (1983, 1986, 1990), one conference tournament title (1990) and five NCAA tournament appearances, its most recent in 1992. Since then, the program has had five head coaches who struggled to attain winning records during their tenures. This past season (2022-23) the Friars finished the season 13-19, ending the season with a first round exit from the BIG EAST tournament.
Locally in Providence, the women’s basketball program doesn’t have the fan support nor media following that the men’s program has. The men’s basketball program plays its homes games at the 14,000 seat Amica Mutual Pavilion (AMP) in downtown Providence, while the women’s program plays its home games at Alumni Hall on campus: capacity 2,620. During the 2021-22 season, the women’s team was scheduled to host UConn at the AMP (then called the Dunkin’ Donuts Center), but eventually ceded the arena to the men’s basketball team, whose game was rescheduled for the same day due to winter weather.
Coach Erin Batth hopes to change the tide in Providence. She urged fans in attendance at the press conference to show up for the women’s basketball games this season. She also has the support of the athletics administration, namely Friars athletic director Steve Napolillo.
“I wanted somebody that could awake a sleeping giant,” Napolillo said. “Just being around her, she’s what these young women needed, what this program needs. Her passion, her vision, her energy, this is who I wanted to be my teammate.”
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Building a program
On the Apr. 20 episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, host Howard Medal asked Coach Erin Batth the number of players she expects to bring in through the transfer portal prior to the 2022-23 season. The very next day, Providence College announced that Batth had signed her first set of transfers. This aligned with Batth’s goals for the portal this offseason.
“[The] reasonable goal is two [players] out of the portal, to be honest with you. All the women I’m recruiting right now are coming out of the portal. And so we’ve got three openings, we got a commitment the other day, so excited. So there’s two more that we’re looking — and then I really don’t love having 15 players — a full, full roster because of that. You want to have at least one or maybe two [roster spots] open for any kind of movement that may happen,” Batth said.
The two players that are joining the Friars via the transfer portal are Marta Morales Romero (Granada, Spain) and Sarah Bandoma (Johnston, R.I.).
Morales, who signed with the program on Apr. 18 as the first signee under Batth’s tenure, is a transfer from Wake Forest, where she played two seasons (2021-23). The 6’1 native of Granada, Spain, Morales has represented Spain in several FIBA-sponsored events, including the 2021 FIBA U-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup and 2021 U-18 3×3 Basketball World Cup. Her size, versatility and international experience add an immediate boost to Providence’s roster.
Bandoma, a local Rhode Islander from Johnston Senior High School, joins the squad after two seasons at St. Francis College Brooklyn (2021-23), which announced at the end of the 2022-23 season that it would be eliminating its Division I athletics after the Spring 2023 semester. The 6’3 forward started in 29 of the 49 games she appeared in as a Terrier, and led the team last season in rebounding (7.0 rpg), offensive rebounding (3.3 orpg), blocked shots (44) and field-goal percentage (.491, 81-165).
“We love that Sarah is a local product and making her way home to Friartown,” Batth said. “She is very athletic and will bring a tremendous work ethic to the court every day. She can run the floor, rebound, score in the paint and be a defensive presence that will help our team excel. Sarah also takes her academics very seriously and epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete.”
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As Batth continues to rebuild the roster and the Friars program in alignment with her vision, she knows the challenge that awaits in the BIG EAST conference, with premier teams like UConn, Villanova, Marquette, St. Johns and Creighton poised to continue to rule the conference.
“You want to play against the best. I mean, that’s what I’m recruiting; come to Providence College because we are playing against UConn, we are going to compete against DePaul and Villanova…I’m not afraid to talk about how good these other teams are. That’s great. That’s what you want,” Batth said on the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. “And if you want to become a pro, you need to be playing and you need to be tested. Every night, every night. There should be no rest time. You should have that feeling in your soul every, every evening.”
Coach Batth brings the same energy to Providence that she hopes to create for her players. If all goes according to her plan and the plans of the school’s administration, the new era in Friartown will reflect the school’s historic dominance and elevate the program to BIG EAST elite status once again.
Written by Tee Baker
Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.
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