This is the second of a two-part series previewing the 2018-19 Bryant University men's basketball team. For the preview of the Bryant backcourt, click HERE.
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bash Townes is ready to run.
A year after missing much of the season due to injury, Bryant University men's basketball junior SaBastian Townes (Chesapeake, Va.) has slimmed down and will be key to the Bulldogs' efforts in the frontcourt in the first year under head coach Jared Grasso.
"The fast pace was something I had to get adjusted to early," said Townes. "I dropped a couple pounds and got faster and quicker. Coach Grasso believes in me and believes in the team. With everyone finding what they're best at and what they can do to help the team, it will be a good season, especially with the fast pace. We all really like playing this way."
When Townes was on the court, the 6-5 Virginia native was integral to the Bryant offense. In the 15 games in which Townes played 20 or more minutes, he was in double-figures in scoring in 12 of them, including four performances of 20-plus points.
"We have a group of forwards who are continuing to improve," said Grasso. "Bash Townes has lost 25 pounds and is in the best shape of his life. Both Bash and Pat Harding are high IQ, skilled guys who can play inside and out. Juan Cardenas has brought some versatility and length to our frontcourt. Tanner Johnson is a guy who can really stretch the floor with his shooting range and gives us another offensive weapon."
Freshman Patrick Harding (Fairfield, Conn.) and junior college transfer Juan Cardenas (Medellin, Colombia) are two newcomers who will make an impact in their first year in Black and Gold. The 6-9 Harding joins the Bulldogs after a postgraduate year at Suffield Academy and a successful high school career at Fairfield Prep. Cardenas averaged 14 points per game in his season at Midland College in Texas.
In addition to Townes, Bryant returns numerous options in the frontcourt. Redshirt-sophomores Brandon Carroll (Bronx, N.Y.) and Monty Urmilevicius (Kaunas, Lithuania) made a combined 18 starts a year ago, with Carroll tallying a pair of 20-point games and Urmilevicius collecting a double-double. Junior Tanner Johnson (Lexington, Ky.) averaged 10.1 points per game when in the starting lineup a year ago and ranked in the top 10 in the NEC in made three-pointers during conference play. The Bulldogs also gain the services of 7-2 Dren Dedushaj (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who redshirted in his first year in Smithfield.
"It is a very exciting time of year for coaches and players throughout the country," said Grasso. "We are a work in progress and right now our focus is to keep improving and getting better every day. Our players have worked very hard since April and look forward to the lights going on Tuesday night."
Bryant opens the 2018-19 season Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the Bulldogs travel to Kingston to face Rhode Island for the first time since 1986.
Season and single-game tickets for home games at the Chace Athletic Center are available by clicking HERE or calling (401) 319-TIXX.