Why is Brown basketball down?

Tavon Blackmon is averaging 7.4 points and 2.9 assists this season, (providencejournal.com)
Tavon Blackmon is averaging 7.4 points and 2.9 assists this season. (providencejournal.com)

So what’s up with Brown?

The Bears have always been a solid defensive unit under coach Mike Martin. They boast a frontcourt that features two-time Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Cedric Kuakumensah and fellow defensive stalwart Rafa Maia. Sophomore guard Steven Spieth also came into this season with a bit of a reputation as a strong backcourt defender as well.

And yet the Bears also have what is comfortably the worst defense in the conference statistically at this early stage of the season. They can’t defend in transition at all.

And in last night’s 66-49 loss against American, the Bears compounded their problems with transition turnovers and a lack of any offensive rhythm whatsoever. Turnovers weren’t the problem yesterday, but they have been for most of the season, as Brown ranks next to last in the league in turnovers, behind only Penn.

So what does it all mean going forward? Brown is a still young team with plenty of time for its defense to gel. That’s step one. This defense is bound to get at least marginally better as the season progresses.

But the Bears need to convert on the offensive end of the floor as well. That means greater shot selection and breaking full-court presses, two bugaboos for Bruno so far. Tavon Blackmon’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.8 easily ranks lower than Tony Hicks’, Alex Mitola’s, Javier Duren’s, Amir Bell’s, Wesley Saunders’, and many more. Blackmon has to be a more efficient point man. Sharpshooter J.R. Hobbie also has to can more jumpers after finishing with 1-for-7 shooting and four turnovers in 26 minutes last night.

Brown will get better, but as of now, it’s not an upper-tier Ivy team. The Bears’ ceiling is still very high, but it won’t be reached until they come together at both ends of the floor.

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