Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Brown isn’t quite ready to win a game like this

February 8, 2014 Columns No Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Brown gave it all they had against the Ivy League favorites. Lack of effort wasn’t the problem, and talent-wise they might not have been far off. They had their chances, and head coach Mike Martin noted that several times in addition to the reality that they didn’t convert enough of their chances. That’s really what this came down to in one sense.

But in another sense, this was a battle of a young team against a veteran team that has won a lot of games on the latter’s home court. And that is not one this Brown team is ready to win just yet, their 52-45 setback at Harvard serving as the evidence.

“We played hard,” said Martin. “We could have played better, certainly, offensively. I think we could have played smarter. We competed on a night we didn’t play our best.”

Brown came into the game tied with Yale at 3-1 right behind Harvard, so a win would have evened things up in the standings. Considering the Bears’ youth, that would have shocked many who saw this as something of a rebuilding season, although they have good talent. That means they had an opportunity not only to pull off a big win, but to put themselves right in the middle of the Ivy League race early on.

The Bears stayed with the Crimson until a tough stretch late in the first half and for the first few minutes of the second half. They led at times in the first half, at one point by four, and after falling behind got within 23-21 before Harvard scored the last four points of the first half and then the first nine of the second half.

Brown would fight back, but it was basically all she wrote from there. The Bears never gathered enough momentum to cut into the lead until later, and never gathered enough. They got within 48-45 with 2:17 left, but would get no closer.

Harvard played well enough to win, but this is a game Brown could have had. The Bears shot 27.3 percent from the field, including 2-16 from long range. That and 15 turnovers went a long way to erasing a 46-39 rebounding edge. Martin was happy with the rebounding, although he will surely look at the tape and find a few times where bad box-outs or no box-outs at all hurt them. While Brown had a 16-14 edge in offensive rebounds, Harvard had an 18-6 edge in second-chance points and seemed to get them at crucial junctures.

“The difference was they converted and we didn’t,” said Martin of the second chances.

And maybe it also comes down to the Bears not being ready to win a game like this just yet. Although Harvard got a big lift from a freshman on Friday night, they started two seniors and three juniors and brought another senior off the bench. This team has pulled out close, big games in their careers, including on the road. Brown, meanwhile, has five freshmen who either start of play significant minutes. In addition, two other starters are in their second year of college basketball.

Those two starters who are veterans by comparison, junior Rafael Maia and sophomore Cedric Kuakumensah, struggled on Friday night. They were a combined 3-14 from the field, and while they had 17 rebounds they also turned the ball over six times. Kuakumensah is the best defensive player in the Ivy League but continues to be in a funk offensively, and he was symbolic of the team’s issue on Friday night of not finishing as much as anyone. He was 1-6 and is shooting 34 percent on the season, which is abysmal for a big man. His defense has plenty of value, but offensively he has become almost a liability.

The Bears’ 15 turnovers are a study in the relative experience of the two teams. Freshman Tavon Blackmon led the team with 11 points but also had a team-high five turnovers on the night. In all, 12 of their 15 turnovers came from players in either their first or second year of college basketball. Harvard gave the ball away nine times in all.

Perhaps symbolic of the night was a possession with over a minute left and the Bears down 50-45. McGonagill had the ball and was trying to initiate a play while being hounded, as he was all night long. The other Bears didn’t move much, basically leaving McGonagill on an island, and as the shot clock wound down all he could do was drive right into trouble and hope to create something. The resulting turnover basically sealed the game at that point.

Certainly, it helps Brown that they played three of the first four league games at home, and the first weekend was against winless (against Division I teams) Cornell and a Columbia team that is about as young as they are. That’s not to say the Bears’ 3-1 start was a mirage, because they could easily have lost a couple of those games, but they took advantage of the schedule makers giving them some early games at home. They got the chance to come to Cambridge with some confidence, and they appeared to have it. With it, they fought to the end, but were just a little short.

“We’re a confident team,” said Martin. “We’ve got guys that are good players, guys that are capable of being good players in this league on a good team. I think we played hard, I think we could have certainly played better and we could have played smarter.”

In the end, Brown isn’t quite ready to win a road game against the league favorites. In a month, when Harvard comes to their place, they might well be ready to win a game like that at home.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2018

March 27, 2018 by

With the Final Four all set, we look back on the regional finals and ahead to the final games of the season. We are joined along the way by veteran writer Ken Davis and Towson head coach Pat Skerry for their insights as well.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.