Martin, Bears Ready For Debut
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Mike Martin is excited. Why wouldn’t he be?
After all, Martin has returned to his alma mater Brown University where he will lead the men’s basketball program he once played for as the new head coach.
The Brown Bears will officially open the 2012-2013 season at Binghamton Sunday and that is when the Mike Martin era will officially begin.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “Naturally we all have some anxious energy, the staff, the players. But it’s my job to make sure that we are ready to play with confidence and execute our offense and defense.”
Martin played for the Bears from 2000-2004 and was part of the only class in Brown men’s basketball history to post four consecutive winning seasons. Now he hopes to recreate that winning culture at Brown as head coach. But it won’t be easy.
The Bears enter the upcoming season a bit undermanned. While other teams in the Ivy League have 16, 18 or even 20 players on their rosters, Brown enters the season with just 11 players on their roster. And it’s not as if Martin will have all 11 players at his disposal.
One of the 11 players is a walk-on from the Brown baseball team. Two more players are nursing back injuries which have plagued them throughout their careers limiting both their practice time and their availability to play in games. Another player is working his way back into shape after missing an entire season due to mononucleosis and other related ailments while still another has just returned to practice from a dislocated shoulder.
To say that the Bears are thin heading into the upcoming season would be an understatement. They are razor thin. But Martin can’t worry about what he doesn’t have.
“Will it be challenging playing with such a limited roster this season? Sure,” he said. “But battling through it will make us all better players and coaches.”
Tri-captain Matt Sullivan (9.8 ppg) is entering his senior season and is ready to be one of the players that shoulders the load for the Bears this season. “Not having a lot of bodies means that those that are healthy are getting a ton of reps,” he said. “I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been and if I have to play 40 minutes that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Sullivan also likes what his new head coach is preaching from the outset. “We’re really working hard on defense and improving our work ethic,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be more defensive oriented than we have been in the past. We hope we can hang our hat on our defense.”
Fellow tri-captain and junior point guard Sean McGonagill (13.5 ppg) agrees with Sullivan. “Our defense is looking good,” he said. “”I’m really excited to start the season. I know it’s going to be a challenge but I love that. It’ll be big to have some of the new guys like Rafa (Rafael Maia) and Cedric (Kuakumensah). Those guys along with Tyler (Ponticelli) and Schmidtty (Jon Schmidt) should give us a good post presence. Matt will be hitting the outside shots. It should be good.”
The return of junior forward Tucker Halpern to the line-up should be a big boost for the Bears on the offensive side of things. Halpern sees the floor better than any player his size and is not only a threat to score, he also gets the ball to teammates in the right places and makes everyone around him better.
Halpern is still working his way back into shape after missing last season due to mono which severely impacted his entire body. For that reason, he will be slowly worked back into the rotation likely having limited minutes to start the season.
Sophomore Longji Yiljep will be pressed into service after missing half of last season due to injury. At 6’5”, Yiljep is long and can knock down the perimeter shot which he will have to do on occasion as opposing defenses focus in on the likes of McGonagill and Sullivan.
It will take a year or two for Martin and his staff to bring enough players into the program to get the roster to a more workable number. In the meantime, he wants Brown fans to know that this team will work hard every time they hit the floor.
“We’re going to try to be the best half-court man-to-man defensive team we can be,” he said. “We want to be competitive in every game we play.”
It all starts Sunday in Binghamton.
Here’s a look at the Bears’ 2012-2013 schedule:
11 Sun. at Binghamton 2:00 p.m
15 Thu. at Central Connecticut 7:30p.m.
17 Sat. at Maine 7:00 p.m.
21 Wed. BRYANT 4:00p.m.
24 Sat. ST. FRANCIS (NY) 2:00 p.m.
29 Thu. SACRED HEART 7:00 p.m.
1 Sat. at NewHampshire 1:00p.m.
8 Sat. at NotreDame 7:00p.m.
23 Sun. at Northwestern TBA
28 Fri. PROVIDENCE 7:00 p.m.
31 Mon. at Albany TBA
4 Fri. Rhode Island TBA
8 Tue. NIAGARA 7:00p.m.
12 Sat. DANIEL WEBSTER 2:00 p.m.
19 Sat. YALE 7:00p.m.
26 Sat. Yale 2:00p.m.
1 Fri. at Dartmouth 7:00 p.m.
2 Sat. at Harvard 7:00p.m.
8 Fri. at Princeton 7:00p.m.
9 Sat. at Penn 7:00p.m.
15 Fri COLUMBIA 7:00 p.m.
16 Sat. CORNELL 6:00p.m.
22 Fri. HARVARD 7:00p.m.
23 Sat. DARTMOUTH 6:00 p.m.
1 Fri. at Cornell 7:00p.m.
2 Sat. at Columbia 7:00p.m.
8 Fri. PENN 7:00p.m.
9 Sat. PRINCETON 6:00 p.m.
Head Coach: Mike Martin ‘04
Associate Head Coach: TJ Sorrentine (Vermont ’05)
Assistant Coaches: Dwayne Pina (Boston College ’01) and Kevin Snyder (Williams ’09)