The Springfield College men’s basketball team fell victim to one of the most devastating plays in basketball on Saturday. Holding a three-point lead in the final seconds on the road at Babson College, the Beavers sank a three that sent the game to overtime, eventually edging the Pride 64-59.
However, the Pride are no strangers to dramatic finishes. Just last Wednesday, Springfield hit a buzzer beater of their own to win a game in overtime.
Sean Martin, a sophomore point guard out of Rindge, N.H., saw a loose ball get tipped out to him with an open lane to the hoop down at the other end. WPI’s Jaime Shannon was helpless as Martin outran him with the ball in his possession and finished high off the glass with his left hand as time expired.
“He outran their kid to get to the basket with the ball,” said coach Charlie Brock. “He’s deceptive that way. He’s relentless.”
Martin’s relentless style of play has been a huge reason why the first-year player has cracked the starting lineup for Brock.
During the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic, with the Pride trailing Eastern Connecticut State by close to 20, Martin checked in.
“We were down like 20 or 22 and coach put me in,” said Martin. “The rest of the game I had like five steals, and we almost came back; we got within like eight. I think that might have had something to do with [starting].”
Since that tournament, which marked the end of non-conference play, Martin has been running the point for the Pride.
Since NEWMAC play started, Springfield is 5-2.
“From my perspective, I thought he did a nice job in that tournament,” said Brock. “He’d been doing it long enough, I knew he knew what to do, but I didn’t know if he could do it on the floor.”
For the majority of the season, Alex Berthiaume was starting at point guard. Berthiaume has been a scoring machine, averaging 17.8 points per game. He has been the Pride’s leading scorer in 13 of 19 games this season.
Now, the Springfield, Mass. standout is doing the majority of his scoring at shooting guard.
“When change happens, everybody’s not always happy about it, but I think people are starting to identify what their roles are and we’re buying into what’s got to be done,” said Brock.
Martin feels the same way.
“I think as long as games are won, it doesn’t really matter who’s on the court or who’s getting time,” said Martin.
“Before, when I wasn’t playing, there was no one complaining about not playing, so I wouldn’t expect anything to change,” he added.
Despite his defensive qualities and seemingly infinite stamina, there have been some things Martin has had to adapt to.
Although he played shooting guard in high school, his main position is point guard.
“In AAU and everything else, I’ve always played point guard and it’s what I like to do,” said Martin. “I like being in control; I like to control the pace of the game.”
The pace of the game that best suits Martin is an up-and-down the floor type game, however, Springfield runs a majority of the offense out of the half court.
“I really like to get out and run, so whenever we get a chance to do that, that’s what I really love,” said Martin. “And I’ve never really run like a motion flex offense before, so having to learn that completely from scratch, it wasn’t difficult, it was just something new.”
“It was good to learn a half-court offense because all my life it’s just been up and down.”
After taking a year off his freshman year to get used to the college atmosphere, Martin has become a reliable piece for Brock and the Pride.
“I talked a lot to [Geoff] Hensley before and told him how I wanted to come back and play, how I missed playing and they took me seriously, which was good,” said Martin.
And although he’s been struggling offensively for the Pride, Martin knows scoring will come.
“My shot’s been off, and I haven’t really gotten on track shooting this year, but that will come,” said Martin.
“I know as long as I keep shooting, keep getting shots up, they’ll go in eventually.”
Corey Hanlon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org