Sports

In first round of CIT Tournament, men’s basketball team to host Crusaders

Monday marks first time postseason game will be played on College Hill in program history

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, March 14, 2014

Coming on the heels of a heart-breaking overtime loss to NCAA tournament-bound Harvard last weekend, the men’s basketball team accepted a bid to compete in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Bruno will host its first-round matchup against the College of the Holy Cross Monday.

Holy Cross (19-13, 12-6 Patriot) finished third in the Patriot League this season. The squad was recently bounced from its conference tournament by American University (20-12, 13-5), a team the Bears (15-13, 7-7 Ivy) beat 72-67 during the non-conference portion of their schedule in early December.

Despite falling to fifth place in the Ivy League, Bruno still managed to earn a spot in the CIT — just its fifth postseason tournament berth in program history. Throughout the entire season, the Bears never lost a game by double-digits and consistently threatened the top teams in the conference.

Head Coach Mike Martin ’04, who was a member of the 2003 squad that appeared in the National Invitational Tournament, believes that the tournament bid demonstrates “the progress we are making and the hard work of our players.” He also emphasized the excitement of the entire organization regarding the invitation.

The Bears will join 31 other teams in the single-elimination-style bracket. Bruno qualified for the tournament by finishing the season with a winning percentage of .536 — satisfying the CIT’s miniumum requirement of a winning season — despite dropping its final three games of the season. The selection committee based its invitations primarily on strength of schedule, strength of conference and the team’s final 10 games of the season.

Brown forward Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 will anchor the squad in the first home postseason game in program history. Kuakumensah was recently honored with the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year award, making him just the second player in Ivy League history to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

In the second half of the season, Kuakumensah flourished, proving he is capable of leading the Bears on both offense and defense. In the last five games of the season, the sophomore averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and 5.4 blocks per game. Kuakumensah was also selected as an All-Ivy Honorable Mention.

The Crusaders’ Dave Dudzinski will challenge Kuakumensah in the paint on both ends of the floor. Dudzinski, an NABC first-team All-District honoree, has captained the squad for the past two years. This season, Dudzinski averaged 15.4 points and 7.5 rebounds, starting all 32 games for Holy Cross.

Dudzinski is a machine on the offensive end. He shot nearly 50 percent from the field on over 350 attempts. The 6-foot-9 center occasionally drifts out behind the arc and takes a three, but the majority of his points are scored down low. The big man has a variety of post moves that make staying in front of him a challenge.

Dudzinski and Malcolm Miller, a starting forward for Holy Cross, form an imposing duo in the paint. Miller is the team’s second-leading scorer, pouring in almost 11 points per game. He is also the Crusaders’ primary rim protector, having blocked 58 shots this season.

Anthony Thompson, Justin Burrell and Eric Green round out the usual starting five for Holy Cross. On average, the starters score 78 percent of the team’s points, with the majority of the bench scoring coming from Cullen Hamilton. But Hamilton has battled injuries throughout the season that have kept him from being a constant contributor.

For the Bears, Sean McGonagill ’14 will suit up once again. The illustrious career of the face of the men’s basketball program was presumed to have ended with the team’s Ivy season. McGonagill currently sits tied for third on the conference’s all-time games started list, with 113. Assuming he will start the tournament game against Holy Cross, he will take sole possession of that spot and move within one game of the former Quaker Zach Rosen, who started 115 games for Penn from 2008-2012.

If Bruno can advance in the tournament, McGonagill will further his stranglehold on the Brown record books. The senior trails Arnie Berman ’72 by 60 points for second on Brown’s career scoring list. A deep run by the Bears could give McGonagill the time to move even further up on many of the school’s all-time lists.

It is unclear who the Bears would face were they to advance in the tournament — the second-round matchups are chosen based on the results of the first round. But Martin’s squad will undoubtedly only think about the next round if it gets there, sticking to its coach’s mantra of taking it “one game at a time.”