Brown’s McGonagill Set To End Illustrious Brown Career
Friday, March 07, 2014
Sean McGonagill will be playing his final two regular season games in a Brown uniform this weekend, possibly marking the end to one of the greatest careers of a basketball player in the history of the program. We say "possibly" because there is a chance that the Bears could be playing in the postseason.
“It’s crazy to think that it’s almost over,” McGonagill said. “The time has really flown by. I can remember being a freshman like it was yesterday.”
The senior guard for the Bears has essentially rewritten the record books at Brown. He is currently the school’s 4th all-time leading scorer with 1,566 career points. He needs just 32 points in home games against Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend to jump into third place.
McGonagill is also Brown’s all-time 3-point field goal leader for a career and for a single season. He is third in career assists and seventh steals with a chance to improve his standing in both of those categories with only a modest showing this weekend.
“Sean has really been everything you could ask for in a player,” said Brown second-year head coach Mike Martin. “In addition to all of his production on the court, he is a tireless worker who spends extra time in the gym. He’s our hardest worker in practice. He’s just a special player.”
Those, like yours truly, who have been lucky enough to watch McGonagill do his thing on the hardwood for the last four years on College Hill can attest to Martin’s description of his star player. But there was clearly a defining moment in his illustrious career and it came as a freshman.
On February 2, 2011, McGonagill was giving it his all at practice as has been the norm for his career at Brown. He made a diving attempt at a loose ball and his head bounced off of the leg of one of his teammates forcing his face to come into violent contact with another teammate’s knee. The result was gruesome.
McGonagill’s upper lip was literally torn away from his face and he had four of his teeth knocked in in what was a rather unpleasant and bloody scene.
Rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, he required 30+ stitches to reassemble his face. The surgeon literally had to put his upper lip back together and reattach it to his gums. Doctors told him it would be wise not to play for about four weeks.
Less than 48 hours after that horrific accident, McGonagill was in the Bears’ starting line-up at home against Columbia. While that in itself would have qualified as a great story, what McGonagill did that night will never be forgotten by diehard Brown fans.
Wearing a mask to protect his face, the freshman played all 40 minutes and proceeded to light up the Lions to the tune of a career-high 39 points. His line score looked like something you would expect only from LeBron James. McGonagill went 15-19 from the field. His 15 field goals are a Pizzitola Sports center single game record. He went 3-4 from three point range and 6-8 from the free throw line. More importantly, he led the Bears to an 87-79 win over Columbia, Brown’s first Ivy win of the season.
“It’s a night I will always remember for the rest of my life because I have a scar to show for it,” said McGonagill. “Even though the doctors recommended that I not play right away, I really didn’t think much about that because all that I wanted to do was to be out there playing so that I could help the team try to win a game. That’s how I have felt all four years here.”
While McGonagill will leave Brown having fallen short of his goal of winning an Ivy League championship, it’s not for lack of effort. “I can’t say enough about the type of player and person Sean has been for us,” said Martin. “He’s confident yet has a great sense of humility. As a coach, one of the most important things you can ask for when you take a job is complete buy-in from the upperclassmen and Sean has done that. I know that when I leave the locker room, the same message I am preaching to the team is being delivered by him and that means a lot to me.”
McGonagill embraces Martin’s message because he believes in everything that his head coach is doing at Brown. “I’m amazed at what a great job coach Martin is doing here,” he said. “To see the success we have had the last two seasons under coach is great and I feel like it’s only going to get better and hopefully lead to Ivy League championships.”
Mike Martin has played with and coached some all-time greats when it comes to Ivy League basketball. His teammate at Brown was the school’s all-time leading scorer Earl Hunt. He coached one of Penn’s all-time greats in Zach Rosen and, for the past two seasons, has coached McGonagill. Because of that experience, he has a pretty good idea as to what makes the great ones so special.
“The great ones like Sean or Earl (Hunt) , their daily approach is what separates them,” said Martin. “They show up to practice every day like they have something to prove. They have a hunger, a drive, a desire to always get better and feel like they have to prove that every day.”
“Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks says that Kevin Durant approaches every day like he’s an undrafted free agent trying to make a team,” Martin said. “That’s Sean.”
In this state, players from Providence College or the University of Rhode Island may receive most of the attention from the local media and college basketball fans because they are considered the “high profile” programs that play in the power conferences like the Big East and Atlantic Ten. But you could argue that none are more deserving of accolades from local fans than McGonagill.
(Brown hosts Dartmouth College Friday night at 7pm at the Pizzitola Sports Center and Harvard University Saturday night at 7pm. Prior to the start of Saturday's game, McGonagill and fellow senior Josh Biber will be honored as part of "Senior Night" ceremonies at Brown)