Brown Basketball Opens Pre-Season Today Amidst Optimism

Brown Basketball Opens Pre-Season Today Amidst Optimism

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Providence, Rhode Island – The Brown men's basketball team, under the tutelage of fourth year head coach Jesse Agel, will begin its pre-season practice on Friday afternoon, October 14, with a strong mix of returning players and newcomers that is expected to compete in the upper echelon of the Ivy League.

The Bears' challenging 31-game schedule includes games in the NIT Season Tip-off and matchups against Providence, Iowa and Rhode Island.  Brown's opening game is on November 11 at home against Johnson & Wales.


Brown's basketball program has laid the groundwork for its future success with a bevy of experienced young players in coach Jesse Agel's first two recruiting classes, as the Bears look compete at the top of the Ivy League standings.  The  Brown squad features just one season, a strong and experienced junior and sophomore class, including sophomore guard Sean McGonagill, the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year, and junior All-Ivy forward Tucker Halpern, along with an exciting freshman class that will have an immediate impact on the Bears' fortunes.


"Even without a senior class, we have an experienced core group that will be together for the next two years," said Agel.  "Our team has already had success by posting the third most non-league wins in Brown basketball history last year, and being very competitive in the Ivy League that ranked in the top half of the country (15th) in the college RPI. With the experience gained from the many close games we were in last year, we are poised to move up in the league standings and compete for a championship."


The 6-8 Halpern, a team leader who averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Bears, leads Brown's experienced front court. Halpern scored in double figures 19 times, including a career high 29 points against Harvard where he connected on 10 of 15 field goals, including 6 of 9 from behind the three-point arc, 10th best in Brown basketball history. 


A marvelous passer, Halpern dished out 66 assists, including seven in the Bears' victory over Princeton. He grabbed a career best 12 rebounds against Quinnipiac and completed the double-double with 26 points against the Bobcats. Halpern ranked sixth in the Ivy League in scoring with 14.3 ppg in league games.


Junior forward Andrew McCarthy is a prodigious shot blocker, who swatted-away 63 career shots in two years, eighth best in Brown basketball history. He averaged 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last season, but saved the best for last, exploding for a career high 21 points against Columbia, while pulling down 10 rebounds in Brown's final game of the season.  He's comfortable around the basket and shot 56-percent from the field.


Sophomore forward Dockery Walker made an immediate impact in his rookie campaign and registered three double-doubles for the Bears. With a penchant for the spectacular dunk, Walker scored 10 points and pulled down a career high 13 rebounds in his first significant playing time against American. He also had a double-double against Lyndon State (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Columbia (13 points, 12 rebounds), where he connected on all six of his field goal attempts.


Agel's squad will also look to get strong contributions from junior forward Tyler Ponticelli and sophomore forward Josh Biber. Ponticelli missed all of the 2009-2010 season due to injury and came back to play in 23 games last season.  He scored a season high nine points against Sacred Heart, and pulled down a season best seven rebounds against Lyndon State.  Biber showed tremendous growth in practice and saw action in 14 games for the Bears.


Two experienced and savvy guards headline the Bears' backcourt with the return of McGonagill and junior Matt Sullivan, as well as sophomore transfer Stephen Albrecht and senior Jean Harris.


A unanimous selection for Ivy Rookie of the Year, McGonagill was a four-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, and Brown's top Ivy League scorer, averaging 14.6 points per game, fourth best in the Ivy League.  He ranked third in the league in assists with 5.7 per game and seventh in the Ivies overall in free throw percentage (.819).
The fourth Brown player to earn Ivy Rookie of the Year honors, McGonagill set a Brown freshman record with 147 assists, third best in the Brown record book. He was only Brown player to start all 28 games, and logged more minutes than any other Brown player, averaging 33.3 minutes per game. 


The game that set McGonagill apart from the rest of the league was his 39-point performance in a win over Columbia, where he tied the Pizzitola Sports Center and Brown freshman scoring record with 39 points against the Lions. His phenomenal performance against the Lions took place less than 48-hours after a facial injury in practice that required 20 stitches from a plastic surgeon, major dental work and necessitated a protective mask to be worn.  His 39 points rank 6th all-time at Brown, and are the most points scored by an Ivy League player in eight years (2003). McGonagill also connected on 15 of 19 field goals against Columbia, shattering the Pizzitola record for field goals in a game, seventh best in the Brown record book.


Sullivan is a hard-nosed player and team leader, who saw action in 27 of Brown's 28 games in 2010-2011, and has started 35 games over the last two years. He averaged 5.7 points per game last year as he transitioned from point guard to shooting guard. Sullivan scored in double figures five times last year, netting a career high 22 points at Princeton on 7 of 11 shooting from the field.  He also turned in a strong performance against Hartford, connecting on 5 of 6 treys in scoring 19 points.


Albrecht practiced with the Bears last year after transferring to College Hill from Toledo.  He started 11 of 12 games for Toledo, while averaging 11.2 points and 2.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game.  Albrecht scored 20 points against Michigan State and Cornell, and 19 points vs. Cincinnati, and netted 15 or more points five times. A strong long-range shooter, Albrecht shot 41-percent (28 of 68) from behind the three-point arc.  Harris is the only member of the Bears' senior class, and returns after a year and a half hiatus.  He scored 18 points in Brown's 2009 season opener against St. Francis, and has the ability to provide instant offense for the Bears.


The development of Brown's freshman class will play a major role in the Bears' climb up the Ivy standings.  Agel welcomes four players to the Brown backcourt – Christian Gore, Joe Sharkey and Longi Yiljep – and two first year players – Rafael Maia and Jon Schmidt – to the front court.


Gore is a 6-2 guard from El Paso, TX, who averaged 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game at Franklin High School.  Sharkey, the MVP of the 2011 National Prep School Championship, is a 6-2 combo guard from Norwood, MA, who averaged 15 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds per game as a senior at Northfield Mount Hermon.  A native of Samari-Zaria, Nigeria, Yiljep averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds a game as a senior at Westtown (PA) High School. Maia is a 6-9 center from Santa Cruz, Brazil, who led Maine Central Institute (MCI) to the Prep School Championship, while averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior. Schmidt, a 6-7 forward from Baltimore, MD, scored 1,202 career points and grabbed 1,079 rebounds at Friends School of Baltimore.