Brown ‘an awesome place’ for hoops coach

Barrington resident Mike Martin ‘fortunate to be associated with Brown for over 20 years’

BY MIKE SCANDURA
Posted 1/13/21

Mike Martin has the best of two worlds.

Not only have Martin, his wife Kristen and their three daughters resided in Barrington since 2012, a town they relish, but he also has his dream job: head …

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Brown ‘an awesome place’ for hoops coach

Barrington resident Mike Martin ‘fortunate to be associated with Brown for over 20 years’

Posted

Mike Martin has the best of two worlds.

Not only have Martin, his wife Kristen and their three daughters resided in Barrington since 2012, a town they relish, but he also has his dream job: head men’s basketball coach of his alma mater, Brown University.

“The quality of the schools for our children is great,” said Martin. “Living fairly close to Brown was important. Living here you have access to beaches and water plus there are great people.”

Coach Martin, a four-year starter, graduated from Brown in 2004 and was part of the winningest class in Brown history (63-45 overall and 39-17 in the Ivy League). In addition he graduated ranked third all-time in career three-point shots (143).

Prior to the 2012-13 season, he got the call he wasn’t quite sure he would get – the one that made him the Bears head coach.

“I’ve been really fortunate to be associated with Brown for over 20 years,” he said. “It’s an awesome place. I’m grateful for my affiliation with the school.

“It was great to be able coach the program for which I once played.”

In his first year, he was a finalist for the Joe B. Hall Award which is presented to the nation’s outstanding first-year head coach.

Fast forward to the 2018-19 season and Martin was voted the Ivy League Coach of the year after guiding the Bears to their first-ever 20 victory season.

“Any time you’re recognized by you peers it’s an honor,” said Martin. “But it’s a testament to our team and staff. Those types of things are about the coaching staff and the student-athletes who put on the uniform and do all the hard work.”

When the curtain came down on the 2019-20 season, Brown had compiled the most victories (35) over two years in school history. In addition, Jaylan Gainey ’23, was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.

“I was involved in the (search) process from Day One,” said Brown Director of Athletics Jack Hayes. “The criteria are you try to find candidates who come from a winning program and have had good coaching experiences that would put them in a good position where they would be successful with this position.

“You want to find people who come from coaching backgrounds that would be applicable to our job and where they could be successful in the position at Brown.”

Martin grew up in a basketball family since his father, Mike Sr., was a long-time high school coach.

“That clearly had an impact on my decision to go into coaching,” said Martin. “I interviewed with financial services companies and accepted a job with an investment bank as a senior at Brown (Martin was an economics major).

“When the season ended, I played one year in Europe. When I came back (then-head coach) Glen Miller offered me a position in 2005 as an assistant and I accepted it.”

Mike Martin senior’s influence proved to be of paramount importance.

“They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” said Martin. “I’m doing what my dad did. I was able to realize the type of impact you can have on young peoples’ lives and I can stay close to the game I love.”

When Miller was named the head coach at Penn, prior to the 2006-07 season, Martin followed him and was an assistant on a team that was 22-9, won the Ivy League championship and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In retrospect, don’t underestimate the importance of Martin’s having been a student-athlete at Brown.

“I think my experience as a student-athlete helps me,” he said. “I have an understanding of the demands on our young men. I think my experience here has allowed me to maintain relationships I had with faculty and alumni.

“My playing experience gave me a huge understanding of the program I was leading.”

That was a huge point in Martin’s favor when the search committee made its decision.

“Mike knew Brown and he knew the Ivy League,” said Hayes. “He had played at Brown during a great run and he had coached at another school (Penn) that had been successful. I felt those experiences would be applicable to our position.”

Besides Xs and Os, arguably the most difficult task confronting any coach at Brown is being able to recruit student-athletes who meet the university’s high academic standards.

“You’re representing one of the premier academic institutions in the world,” said Martin. “We have instant credibility because of the school at which we work.

“We have to make sure we work really hard to find out about a recruit and his family so we’re making the right decisions regarding who we recruit.”

Hayes has seen first-hand Martin’s ability to recruit players who meet academic and athletic standards.

“Mike’s done a great job attracting students to Brown and helping with their development as players during their tenure,” said Hayes. “One who came in my first year was Cedric Kuakumensah (who set Brown’s career record for blocked shots and who attended St. Andrew’s). There’s also Steven Spieth (an Academic All-Ivy selection) and Tamenang Chou (a two-time All-Ivy League selection) who would have been a senior this year.

“There are a number of student-athletes who have improved during their tenure. It’s a credit to Mike and his coaching staff who have made those students better players.”

Martin, who was quick to credit the support he’s received from Brown President Christina Paxson and Hayes, faced his most difficult challenge when he had to inform his players that the Ivy League had cancelled the winter sports season due to the pandemic.

“We felt that we had a chance to have the best team we’ve had in my nine years,” he said. “I felt frustrated like they did but I encouraged them as quickly as possible to pick ourselves up and focus on the positive.

“What determines our future success is how we respond to adversity. Our guys have handled it well.”

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