Brown finished with a disappointing 8-20 record last season and won just three games in the Ivy League. The Bears have had just one winning season since 2010 and are in desperate need for some hope around the program.
That hope may seem hard to come by at first, given that Cedric Kuakumensah, last season’s leading scorer, has graduated. Brown also absorbs the loss of junior guard Jason Massey, who transferred to Florida Atlantic.
But that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare.
With Kuakumensah gone, Brown will look to the senior duo of Tavon Blackmon and Steven Speith for leadership. The guard Blackmon was the Bears’ second-leading scorer last season, and led the team in minutes played and steals per game, as well as the entire Ivy League in assists per game, with 5.5. Blackmon is a capable scorer himself, posting double-digit scoring efforts on 20 occasions in 2015-16, and scoring more than 20 points four times. Blackmon has improved steadily in each of his three seasons, and Brown will depend on him to get even better.
The forward Speith was the second best player on the glass, grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game, good for seventh overall in the Ivy League. He also scored in double figures in 18 games, including a career-high 24 points against Princeton.
The Bears welcome four freshman this season in guard Brandon Anderson, center Brandon Charnov, and forwards David Erebor and Joshua Howard. Anderson, a New Jersey native, led his high school program to the state finals, and ultimately chose Brown after considering reigning Patriot league champion Bucknell and Ivy league contender Columbia.
The 6’11 Charnov will add some needed size, and enters college after a senior season where he averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds in high school.
Howard is a versatile forward and two-sport athlete who finised second in all of North Carolina in 110 hurdles.
Erebor, meanwhile, comes in with comparisons to Kuakumensah, and elected to go to Brown over top Ivy League talent Princeton.
The Bears also bolstered their coaching talent during the offseason. Brown recently announced that it added John Linehan and John Mariano to their coaching staff. Linehan previously played at Providence College, a neighbor of Brown, where he was a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was named NCAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. More recently, Linehan served as the operations assistant at Drexel University.
Mariano joins Brown after serving as the head assistant coach at St. Anselm’s from 2012-16, where he helped to recruit six standout all-conference players in the Northeast-10 conference. Mariano also played four years at St. Anselm.
As Brown approaches the 2016-17 season, it looks to finally catch up to the rest of the Ivy League. The Bears won’t be picked at or near the top of the league, but its possible that the pieces will slowly fall into place.