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Brown to Host First-Ever Postseason Game Monday vs. Holy Cross

Sunday, March 16, 2014

 

The Brown University men’s basketball program picked up its first-ever win back on February 17, 1901 when it defeated Holy Cross at Brown’s Lyman Gymnasium 29-10. Now, 113 years later, the Bears will host the Crusaders again for what will be the first-ever postseason home game.

Brown and Holy Cross will square off Monday night at 7 pm inside Brown’s Pizzitola Sports Center in opening round action of the College Insiders.com Tournament (CIT).

Fifth postseason appearance

This is a big moment in Brown basketball history as the program has only competed in the postseason four other times prior to this season. “I think it’s great, any time you can play postseason basketball,” said Bears head coach Mike Martin. “To be able to play the game at home where we’re comfortable in front of our fans makes it even better.”

Unlike Holy Cross, Brown has not had a rich tradition of winning on the hardwood for the past century. However, that seemed to change when Glen Miller was hired in 1999.

Ironically, one of Miller’s first recruits was Mike Martin who was one of the keys to Brown’s turnaround on the hardwood. In Martin’s junior year, the Bears won what was a school-record 17 games at the time and finished 12-2 in the Ivy League losing to fierce battles to eventual league-champion Penn.

Brown Head Coach Mike Martin

Postseason in second year

Now, 11 years later, Martin leads the program back to the postseason in only his second season as head coach. “It’s pretty neat,” said Martin. “Playing in the postseason is a great thing for our program. For our seniors it’s validation of the progress we have made over the past two years and, for our underclassmen, it’s more opportunity for us to practice, be together and to improve our program.”

Leading the way for the Bears is senior tri-captain Sean McGonagill who has had a career that will go down as one of the best ever on College Hill. The Chicago native is Brown’s third all-time leading scorer, all-time leading 3-point shooter and second in career assists. He was recently named First Team All-Ivy by the league’s coaches.

Another player who has had a stellar season is sophomore forward Cedric Kuakumensah. For the second consecutive season, Kuakumensah was named the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year for his tenacious play under the rim where he swats away shots at a record pace and alters many others. He has set single season records for blocked shots in each of the past two seasons recording a new high of 90 this year. On his current pace, he will shatter the Ivy League record in that category well before the end of his senior year.

Ironically, Kuakumensah is a native of Worcester, Massachusetts where the College of the Holy Cross is located. He was also recruited heavily by the Crusaders. In fact, his three official visits his senior year at St. Andrew’s in Barrington were to Brown, Holy Cross and Penn where Martin was an assistant coach at the time. “It’s going to be a great experience playing against Holy Cross,” Kuakumensah said. “Being from Worcester, I used to play up there with some of their guys in open gym. My sister went there as well. So it will be fun.”

Kuakumensah also understands how important it is to still be playing basketball at this time of year. “I think this will be a great experience for our program because if we strive to make the NCAA Tournament in the future, we need to get used to playing at this time of year,” he said.

Ivy League on the rise

While the Brown basketball program is clearly on the rise, so too is the rest of the Ivy League. In fact, this season, a record five Ivy League men’s basketball teams will play in the postseason with Harvard going to the NCAA’s, Princeton to the CBI and Yale and Columbia joining Brown in the CIT.

Should the Bears win Monday night, it’s anyone’s guess as to whom and where they will play next. Unlike some other postseason tournaments, the CIT does not have an official bracket per say. It is possible that Brown could host a second round game later in the week on Friday or Saturday, or the Bears could head out on the road as well.

However, that is a concern for another day. For now, the Brown Bears are happy to still be playing basketball and the team understands that Holy Cross presents a significant challenge. It should be a lot of fun at the Pizzitola Sports Center Monday night.

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Greatest Players in Brown Basketball History

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10. Russ Tyler

Class of 1971

In addition to being one of the program's greatest players of all-time, Tyler has also been it's biggest supporter remaining close to the Brown basketball for the past 4 decades. There is no one who is more positive in his support of the coaches and players who wear the brown and white. Russ holds the second highest scoring average in the Brown record book, averaging 22.7 points per game for the Bears in 1970-71... His 46-points and 18 field goals against Rhode Island in 1971 rank second in Brown history... Ranks 10th in career scoring average with 15.1 points per game... His 568 points in 1970-71 was a Brown record at the time and still second in Brown's record book... Scored 1,133 career points... ECAC All-East selection... Also owned the Brown records for career assists, consecutive free throws, free throw percentage and most field goals in a season.

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9. Mike Cingiser

Class of 1962

A tough-as-nails player and coach for Brown whose accomplishments on the court and the bench were as good as anyone. Netted 1,331 points from 1959-1962, the Brown record at the time, and now fifth... Only one of three Brown players to be a three-time first team All-Ivy selection... Went on to coach the Bears to their only Ivy League Championship in 1986, posting a 16-11 record, 10-4 Ivy, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament against Syracuse... His team play was evidenced by his leading the team in assists and was second in rebounding throughout his varsity career... Tossed in 492 career field goals, still sixth in the Brown record book.

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8. Damon Huffman

Class of 2008

The prototypical "gym rat," Huffman scored 1,306 points in his illustrious career at Brown. He finished his career in style scoring 39 points in a loss to the Ohio Bobcats the College Basketball Invitational Tournament. Huffman drained a school record 9 three-pointers in that game and graduated as Brown's all-time leading 3-point shooter. He teamed up with Barrington's Mark McAndrew to lead the 2007-2008 team to a school-record 19 wins under then head coach Craig Robinson.

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7. Sean McGonagill

Class of 2014

Brown fans will get to see one of their all-time greats play at least one more game Monday night when the Bears host Holy Cross in the CIT. Heading into the game, McGonagill is the school's 3rd all-time leading scorer with 1,608 points. His 257 career treys are the most of any player in Brown history and his 519 assists are second all-time. Recently named First Team All-Ivy, McGonagill showed his amazing toughness as a freshman when he returned to play quickly after an accident in which his upper lip ripped away from his face. Despite 30+ stitches and doctor recommendations to not play for 4 weeks, he returned less than 48 hours after that accident with a mask on where he proceeded to light up the Columbia Lions with a career-high 39 points.

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6. Alai Nuualiitia

Class of 2003

Recognized as Brown's "Iron Man," having started every game in his four-year Brown career, encompassing 110 games... Scored 1,344 career points, fourth on Brown's all-time list... Held the Brown career record with 119 blocked shots at the time of his graduation... His shooting percentage of .617 (126 of 206) in 2002-03 is second in Brown history... Ranks fifth in career field goal percentage (.557)... Helped Brown to an NIT appearance in 2003, and to a school record 57 victories in his four-year career.

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5. Mike Waitkus

Class of 1986

Brown's all-time assists leader with 577 career assists... Scored 1,165 career points... Brown's first ever Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 1983... Holds Brown records for free throw percentage in a season (.898, 97 of 108 in 1983), and a career (.861, 279 of 324)... His 5.8 assists per game in 1983-84 is also a Brown record... Helped Brown to its first ever Ivy League Championship in 1986... Averaged 5.5 assists per game for his career, a Brown record... Two-time All-Ivy selection.

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4. Phillip Brown

Class of 1975

Holds Brown all-time record for rebounding with 931 rebounds... Scored 1,241 career points... His 24 rebounds against Dartmouth are third in the Brown record book... Helped spark the Bears to 30 wins in three years at Brown, a record at the time... Three-time All-Ivy selection, twice a first team honoree... All-New England selection and team captains in both his junior and senior years... Set Brown and New England records for field goal percentage, and Brown records for rebounding. He accomplished this in just 3 years of play as freshman were not allowed to play varsity basketball in Brown's era.

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3. Jason Forte

Class of 2005

The brother of former North Carolina Tarheel and Boston Celtic Joe Forte, Jason was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2004... His cat-like quickness made him almost impossible to guard... Three-time first team All-Ivy selection... Scored 1,597 career points, third in Brown history... Posted the Ivy League's first "Tiny," leading the league in both scoring (21.4 ppg.) and assists (5.79 apg) as a junior... Set a single-season Brown record with 155 assists in 2002-2003... Completed his career ranked first in steals (192), second in assists (524), second in free throws (536), seventh in three-point field goals (121), and tenth in field goals (469)... AP All-American as a junior.

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2. Arnie Berman

Class of 1972

Arnie Berman was Earl Hunt long before Earl Hunt was born! A prolific scorer who compiled his gaudy stats in just 3 years of varsity play. Held the Brown scoring record for over 30 years with 1,668 career points... Holds Brown seasonal records for points (658 in 1971-72), scoring average (25.3 ppg in 1971-72) and free throws (250 in 1971-72), and career marks for free throws (636), and scoring average (21.6 ppg)... Connected on 25 of 26 free throws vs. Cornell in 1972... Ranks third in career rebounding (878) and rebounding average (11.4 rpg.)... First team All-Ivy selection in 1972... Held 17 Ivy League, Brown and New England scoring records... Led all New England scorers as a senior with 25.3 points per game, earning New England Player of the Year honors.

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1. Earl Hunt

Class of 2003

To steal a line for the former comedic coach of Providence College Pete Gillen, Earl Hunt is the best Brown basketball player, alive, dead or yet to be born! Hunt could score at will by either making jump shots, getting to the rim or getting to the charity stripe. Brown's all-time career scorer and the only Bears player to score over 2,000 career points (2,041)... Three-time first team All-Ivy selection... Scored 39 points twice in his career (vs. Harvard and Central Conn.), sixth in the Brown record book... Owns three Top 10 seasonal marks for points... His 18.9 ppg career scoring average is second at Brown, while his 499 career free throws ranks third... Helped Brown to a school record 17 wins twice (2002, 2003), and to a school record 12 Ivy wins (12-2) in 2003, with the Bears advancing to the National Invitation Tournament.

 
 

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