Brown boasts one of the oldest collegiate basketball programs in the country, thrilling fans on College Hill since 1900. The home of the Bears for much of that period was Marvel Gym, which opened in 1927, and since 1990 its home is the Pizzitola Sports Center.
All Brown fans celebrated with the return of Mike Martin '04 as the Bears' head coach of the Bears on June 1, 2012.
Brown’s all-time leading scorer, Earl Hunt ’03, scored 2,041 career points from 1999-2003, fourth best in Ivy league history, and led the Bears to an NIT berth. Arnie Berman, netted 1,668 points in his three seasons at Marvel, dazzling East Side fans with long-range marksmanship.
Other Brown sharpshooting greats Joe Tebo ’58 (1,319 career points) and Rusty Tyler ’71 (1,133 career points), Phil Brown ’75 (Brown’s all-time rebounding leader), and Mike Waitkus ’86 (the Bears’ all-time leader in assists) also honed their skills at the gym on Elmgrove Avenue. More recently, Ivy Player of the Year Jason Forte ’05 (third all-time scorer), Steven Spieth (fifth all-time scorer), First Team Academic All-American and 1,000 point scorer Matt Sullivan, long-range shooter JR Hobbie (all-time 3-point leader), and Cedric Kuakumensah (Ivy League's all-time leader in blocked shots) have developed their skills at the Pitz.
On a February evening in 1938, Harry Platt ’40 set a school record by tallying 48 points against Northeastern. Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno ’50 played two years of basketball at Brown. Among the visiting legends include Bob Cousy, former Holy Cross guard and Hall of Famer from the Boston Celtics, and Bill Bradley, Princeton’s all-time leading scorer, New York Knicks forward and former United States Senator.
Brown captured the Ivy League title in 1986 with the help of Ivy Player-of-the-Year Jim Turner as Brown made its first NCAA Tournament appearance, battling the Syracuse Orangemen in Syracuse. That team was coached by Mike Cingiser ’62, Brown’s second all-time leading scorer, a draft choice of the Boston Celtics and three-time first-team All-Ivy selection.
The onset of the 1989-90 season brought the Bears to a new arena, the 2,800 seat Pizzitola Sports Center, located in the center of the athletic complex, just a short walk from Thayer Street and the heart of the campus. Opened for the 1989-90 season, the Bears have shown that their new den gives them a significant home court advantage with a tremendous increase in attendance. The Bears have had great success in “The Pitz” with several sellout crowds each year and a strong home court advantage.
Recent seasons have seen several sellout crowds of nearly 3,000 “Pack the Pitz” for memorable games against Penn, Princeton, URI, and Yale, as the Bears battled for the Ivy title through the final weekend of the season.
In addition to its Ivy League schedule, Brown also plays a regional schedule as well as a national slate. The Bears recently traveled to play Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Baylor, after playing games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Michigan State, and traveling to Sacramento, Dallas, and Chicago.
Brown’s reputation of excellence in both academics and athletics will continue to assist the program in attracting top-level players. The new Bears are establishing their own tradition of success, with names like recent graduates Steven Spieth, Tavon Blackmon, Cedric Kuakumensah, Matt Sullivan, Damon Huffman, Peter Sullivan, Mark McAndrew, Chuck Savage, Rick Lloyd, Eric Blackiston, Alai Nuualitia and Earl Hunt setting records for future generations of Brown basketball players to strive for at the Pizzitola Sports Center.