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Men's Basketball Visits UConn Sunday for Exhibition Game at Civic Center. Tipoff at 1 pm.

Men's Basketball Visits UConn Sunday for Exhibition Game at Civic Center.  Tipoff at 1 pm.

November 2, 2007


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The Bryant men's basketball team heads to Hartford, Connecticut Sunday afternoon for the first of two preseason exhibition game when the Bulldogs square off with the University of Connecticut Huskies at the Hartford Civic Center.  Tipoff is set for 1 pm. This will be the fourth straight year the Bulldogs and Huskies have played in a preseason game with UConn winning the previous three matchups including a 70-45 win last year.  All three previous meetings were played at the Civic Center.  Bryant will travel to Provo, Utah on Wednesday to face BYU in the final preseason exhibition (7pm MT) before opening the regular season at the University of Bridgeport November 17.

BRYANT Probable Starters                   
P - No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown                 
F - 4 Jerrann Wright Jr. 6-7 215 Cincinnati, OH     
F - 32 Ryan McLean Jr. 6-7 225 Plymouth, MA   
F - 25 John Fogarty Sr. 6-7 225 Smithfield, RI    
G -  11 Chris Birrell Fr. 6-2 185 Scituate, RI
G -  21 Jon Ezeokoli Sr. 6-3 205 South Orange, NJ   

Under the direction of seventh year coach Max Good, the Bryant men's basketball team has developed into one of the region's top Division II programs. Good has led Bryant to four straight Division II NCAA tournaments including a trip to the NCAA Championship game in 2005.  Last year, the Bulldogs reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the third time in four years before falling to rival Bentley College in the regional championship game played in Waltham, Mass. Two starters and eight letterwinners are back from last year's team that went 21-11 overall and 14-8 in the Northeast-10 Conference.  Leading scorer Chris Burns has graduated after leading the team last year with a 15.5 ppg scoring average and 113 made three-point field goals.  Second leading scorer Jon Ezeokoli (South Orange, NJ) is back for his senior season.  The third-team all-conference selection averaged 15.1 points per game and made 60 three's on the season.  Ezeokoli, a 6-foot-3 guard, led the Bulldogs with 5.4 rebounds per game. 

Junior Jerrann Wright (Cincinnati, OH) is back after starting 29 of the team's 32 games.  The 6-7 forward averaged 6.9 ppg and 5.2 rebounds per contest as a sophomore.   He'll joined up front by 6-7 junior Ryan McLean (Plymouth, Mass.) and 6-6 junior Nick Pontes (New Bedford, Mass.).  McLean was a regular off the bench last season, averaging 3.6 ppg and 3.1 rpg while playing an average of 13.8 minutes per game.  Pontes, who has a nice scoring touch down low, averaged 6.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg. 

In the backcourt, the Bulldogs will look to sophomore Chris Birrell (Scituate, RI) to run the offense while junior Orlando Baeza (Palmdale, CA) recovers from an ankle injury this summer. Baeza had a strong showing in last year's NCAA tournament, scoring 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field in a first round win over Adelphi.  He had 16 points the previous outing in a loss to Bentley in the conference championship game.  He's one of the team's better free throw shooters, converting 37 of 44 (.841) from the line last year.

Nov. 5, 2004 - at Maryland 85-100 L  Bryant led 48-46 at halftime
Nov. 11, 2004 - at UConn 65-90 L  Just 7 three's made
Nov. 3, 2005 - at UConn 62-109 L Burns 15 points
Nov. 12, 2005 - at UNLV  63-81 L  Burns 13 points
Nov. 1, 2006 -  at Syracuse 86-92 L  Burns 33 points
Nov. 6, 2006 -  at UConn 45-70 L  McLean 8 points, 4 rebounds

The Bulldogs dropped a 70-45 decision to the Huskies last season at the Civic Center as UConn blew the game wide open in the second half to cruise to the easy win.  Bryant, which was coming off a six-point loss at Syracuse five days earlier, trailed by just six at the half (36-30) but were outscored 34 to 14 in the second half.  The Bulldogs were held to only 28.8 percent shooting from the floor and went to the free throw line only once, compared to UConn's 42.3 percent shooting and 37 free throw attempts (27 made).  The Bulldogs were led by Chris Burns who had 13 points in the game while graduated seniors Nate Sudlow and Dan Hammond each had nine. Jon Ezeokoli (South Orange, NJ) did not play in the game due to an injury.  Ryan McLean (Plymouth, Mass.) had eight points and four boards. Jeff Adrien had 15 points and five rebounds while Hasheem Thabeet had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.  UConn blocked a total of 12 shots in the game and held a 49 to 34 rebounding advantage against the smaller Bulldogs.

Bryant University, located in Smithfield, RI (7 miles NW of Providence), is a Division II school with an an enrollment of 3,200 ...  On October 17, 2007, Bryant officially accepted an invitation by the Northeast Conference (NEC) to join the league and will formally begin a four-year transition to Division I.  Bryant will officially become a member of the Northeast Conference in the fall of 2012.  Monmouth, Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac are three of the 11 members of the NEC.  Bryant will become the 12th member of the conference for all sports.  This will be the final year of competing as a member of Division II and as a member of the Northeast-10 Conference and will play its first Division I schedule starting in the 2008-09 academic year ... Former Athletic Director Dan Gavitt stepped down in August of 2005 to become Associate Commissioner at the BIG EAST Conference ... Bryant has won three Northeast-10 Conference Presidents' Cup trophies (2004, 2005, 2007), an award given to the top overall athletic program among 15 member institutions.  This year, Bryant's fall sports teams are a combined 75-32 (.700). 

The Bryant front line got much bigger over the summer, thanks to the addition of sophomore center Sam Herrick (Nantucket, Mass.) who transferred from the University of New Hampshire.  The 6-foot-11 center played in 20 games  - starting in four (10.2 minutes per game) for the Wildcats, averaging 2.6 ppg and 2.0 rpg.  He had a season-high eight points vs. Harvard.

Sophomore Chris Birrell (Scituate, R.I.) has looked sharp in the early going. The 6-2 guard will see time at the point this year, his first at Bryant since transferring from Community College of Rhode Island. 

The Bulldogs were picked to finish fourth by the league coaches in the 2007-08 Northeast-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll released earlier this week.  The Bulldogs garnered 162 points.  Defending conference champion Bentley was picked to repeat, earning 14 first place vote while Saint Rose (NY) and Pace (NY) were second and third respectively. 

Freshman Barry Latham (Taunton, Mass.) begins his first season with the Bulldogs.  The lefthander attended Marianapolis Prep in Thompson, Connecticut playing for coach Dave Vitale.  Both parents are Northeastern University graduates.