PROVIDENCE (WPRI) – On a weekend where Providence, Rhode Island, and Bryant were all on the road, the spotlight was on Brown men’s basketball, and deservedly so. The Bears played in front of a raucous crowd at the Pizzitola Sports Center Saturday afternoon. They blasted Cornell early and cruised to an 80-66 win. The victory marked No. 134 for head coach Mike Martin, which moved him past Stanley Ward for first place on the school’s all-time wins list.
Martin’s latest accomplishment is one of many during his time on the East Side. He has his fingerprints all over the history books of a program that began hooping in the 1900-01 season.
As a player, he helped the Bears go 12-2 in the Ivy during his junior season (2002-03) and reach the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
As a head coach, he was named the 2018-19 Ivy League Coach of the Year after guiding Brown to its first and only 20-win season ever (20-12). The following year the Bears won 15 games, which still stands as the most wins (35) in a two-year span in program history.
A memorable season for Martin and Co. is still unfolding. The Bears are 6-4 and control their own destiny to reach their first ever Ivy League tournament. And they’re only one game out of first place with four games to go.
As we approach championship week, make sure to keep an eye on the Bears den. Hibernation season might be over earlier than expected.
With that, let’s get to the latest edition of the WPRI12 College Hoops Column.
Thoughts and observations are below. You can always reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @MHershgordon.
No. 20 Providence
Record: 18-7 (10-4 in Big East, 4th place)
Last: 73-68 loss at St. John’s
This Week: Host Creighton Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., Host Villanova Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.
Plain and Simple: Tuesday is a must win to stay alive for a repeat
The two games this week provide one last chance to stay in the race for a repeat. With a win over Creighton on Tuesday the Friars would jump into a tie for third and pull within just one game of Marquette, which faces Xavier on Wednesday night. A loss would mean Friars lose the tiebreaker by getting swept by the Blue Jays and would fall two games back in the loss column to the Golden Eagles and Musketeers. It’s one game at a time for PC, who let a prime opportunity slip on Saturday at St. John’s.
WATCH: Devin Carter gives back to local community.
Hard Truth: Bynum needs to go back to 6th man role
This has been one of the main talking points during the past few weeks. Jared Bynum’s presence off the bench adds a different dimension that the Friars do not have when he starts. As we saw in the games leading up to Saturday’s loss at St. John’s, his spark creates depth for Ed Cooley. Games will go one of three ways. First, the Friars get off to a great start, have the lead and then can bring Bynum in to sustain or further extend the lead. Second, the Friars will go back and forth with their opponent and then have an all-league caliber guy to bring in who is fresh and can create an early advantage. Third (and we have seen this especially on the road) the Friars get off to a slow start, find themselves down, and then can call Bynum’s number to stop the bleeding and make a push to get the game back to even. Here’s what Ed Cooley said on Saturday when I asked him his thought process behind the decision.
Miss the third episode of Season 2 of ‘PC Hoops with Coach Cooley’? Make sure to tune in this Sunday Feb. 19 at 10:30 p.m. on FOX Providence
PC Hoops with Coach Cooley
🏀 1-on-1 with Coach Ed Cooley
🏀 “Be Them Dudes” Play of the Week
🏀 Trivia Question of the Week
🏀 Five Friar Fast Facts
Record: 8-16 (4-8 in Atlantic 10, tied for 12th place)
Last: 75-67 loss at George Mason
This Week: Host VCU Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., Host UMass Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.
Plain and Simple: If you’re time is limited, just go watch the women
There’s a growing chance Archie Miller’s team won’t win 10 games. It’s understood that they’d have to go 0-7, 1-6 or 1-7 for that to happen. But with the loss of Brayon Freeman, the Rams only have one player on the roster averaging double digit points. Meanwhile, Tammi Reiss’ squad earned a record six votes in this week’s AP Top 25.
Hard Truth: Rams might not win a road game all season
As of Monday Feb. 13, URI is one of 15 Division I schools in the nation (out of 363) not to have won a road game all year. The other 14 are Tulsa, Notre Dame, Louisville, Georgetown, Presbyterian, Cal State Northridge, UTSA, IUPUI, Wyoming, California, LSU, Georgia State, Pepperdine and Hartford (which is transitioning to Division III). There’s only two more cracks. At third place Fordham at the end of the month, and at last place Loyola Chicago on the first of March.
Record 16-9 (7-5 in America East, tied for 3rd place)
Last: 76-73 loss at UMBC
This Week: Host UMass Lowell Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
Plain and Simple: KVonn Cramer’s injury could be a backbreaker
The potential result of a late injury to KVonn Cramer at the end of Saturday’s game at UMBC will pale in comparison to what he dealt with in December when he fought for his life in the Cincinnati Medical Center ICU. He was on a ventilator when he staved off an aggressive case of the flu that had doctors thinking his life was in danger. Following a six-week absence, Cramer rejoined the team in late January and has played 100 minutes across the seven games since he’s been back. The nearly 14.5 minutes a night that he’s provided Jared Grasso and the Bulldogs have bolstered the weak front court and lengthened the bench. But his spill against the Retrievers might result in an ACL or MCL tear that would certainly sideline him for the remainder of the year.
Hard Truth: All the eggs need to go into Wednesday night
All the postseason tournaments are quickly approaching, but none as fast as the America East Conference. As PC, URI, and Brown wrap up on March 4, the AEC conference postseason begins the next day and it’s far from a lock if Bryant even gets one home game. It primarily hinges on the outcome of Wednesday’s game at home to UMass Lowell. The River Hawks destroyed the Bulldogs in the first meeting and if Bryant doesn’t put forth a full 40-minute effort, they’ll be swept and most likely outside the top four when it’s all said and done.
Record: 13-10 (6-4 in Ivy League, tied for 3rd place)
Last: 80-66 win vs. Cornell
This Week: At Princeton Feb. 17 at 7 p.m., At UPenn Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.
Plain and Simple: Mike Martin has done wonders with this team
The Bears were supposed to be rebuilding this season after losing Tamenang Choh and Jaylen Gainey. Early challenges in non-conference play prepared the Bears for January and February. Even more, Martin has pulled all the right strings with a depleted roster. Malachi Ndur is done for the season, standout rookie Kalu Anya has been sidelined the last five games, and Dan Friday has been in and out of the lineup. It would be quite a story if this was the group that got the program over the hump.
Hard Truth: Regular season championship is within reach
A win over Princeton on Friday would catapult Brown into second place, and could pull them tied to Yale if the Bulldogs also lose at Penn. Three of the last four games of the season are against the other teams currently in the postseason picture. A 3-0 mark in those could mean banner time.