Providence, Rhode Island - Faced with a challenging 31-game schedule that includes a school record 15 home games, the Brown men's basketball team tips off its 2011-2012 season on Friday, November 11, hosting Johnson & Wales at the Pizzitola Sports Center. Playing on Veterans Day, tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
The Season Opener: Brown is opening its 106th season of intercollegiate basketball Friday evening against Johnson & Wales, playing the cross-city school for the first time ever. Head coach Jesse Agel is 2-1 lifetime in season opening games. Last year, Brown opened its season with a 69-65 win over Fordham in the Bronx, NY.
Did You Know: The Bears are scheduled to play 31 games in 2011-2012, tying the school record for games played…Brown posted an 11-17 record last year, including a 4-10 Ivy League mark… Sophomore point guard Sean McGonagill was the 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year…Junior forward Tucker Halpern was an All-Ivy selection last year.
NIT Season Tip-Off: Following Friday's game, the Bears are off to Syracuse, NY, to compete in the NIT Season Tip-off, played at the Carrier Dome. Brown will face Albany on Monday, November 14 at 4:00 p.m., and then either Syracuse or Manhattan on Tuesday, November 15. The tournament will continue with games either 11/21-11/22 at campus sites, or 11/23-11/25 at Madison Square Garden.
Head Coach Jesse Agel: Bears' head Coach Jesse Agel begins his fourth season at the helm of the basketball program with a goal of building the Brown basketball program into an annual contender for the Ivy League Championship. Before taking over the reins of the program, the 48-year-old Agel (pronounced A-gull) was an assistant at Brown for two years, helping the Bears register a school-record 19 victories in 2007-2008, while gaining a berth in the post-season College Basketball Invitational. During his 17-year stint at Vermont, Agel was the architect of the Catamount's recent success on the basketball court. A 1984 graduate of Vermont, Agel was the associate head coach at Vermont for eight years under head coach Tom Brennan.
All-Ivy Halpern Returns: Brown's experienced front court is led by the 6-8 co-captain Tucker Halpern, an All-Ivy player who averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Bears. Halpern scored in double figures 19 times a year ago, 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.
McGonagill Leads Bears' Backcourt: A unanimous selection for Ivy Rookie of the Year in 2011, sophomore Sean 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 the 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.
McCarthy Among Top Shot Blockers: Junior forward Andrew McCarthy is a prodigious shot blocker, swatting-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.
Team Chemistry: This year's men's basketball team features one senior, four juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. Jean Harris is the lone senior; Tucker Halpern, Andrew McCarthy, Matt Sullivan and Tyler Ponticelli are juniors; Stephen Albrecht, Josh Biber, Sean McGonagill and Dockery Walker are the Bears' sophomores; and Christian Gore, Rafael Maia, Jon Schmidt, Joe Sharkey and Longji Yiljep are the freshmen.
What's Up Doc? 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.
Co-Captain Matt Sullivan: Junior co-captain Matt 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.
Bear Facts: The only senior on the Brown squad, Jean Harris, returns to the Brown squad after a year-and-a half hiatus. He scored 18 points against St. Francis on 7 of 7 shooting from the field, in Brown's 2009 season opening game…Junior Steven 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. While with the Rockets, 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.
Brown's Class of 2015: Head coach Jesse Agel welcomes three 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 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.
Bears On The Air: Brown's entire 31-game schedule is being broadcast on WPRV-AM 790 with Scott Cordischi, the voice of Brown basketball and football, calling all the action. Former Brown basketball star Russ Tyler '71 (1,133 career points) provides the color analysis. Brown fans can also listen to the broadcast on brownbears.com.