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Prior to assuming the head coaching role at Brown, Mike Martin was an assistant at Penn from 2006-12.

Credit: Katie Zhao

Penn basketball takes the court for the first Ivy doubleheader of the season this weekend, traveling up to Yale on Friday before heading over to Providence for a battle with Brown. In anticipation of the matchups, The Daily Pennsylvanian talked with Bears’ coach Mike Martin, who was an assistant for the Quakers from 2006-2012.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: How would you summarize your non-conference schedule?

Mike Martin: I thought we had some solid performances. We had some games where we would have liked to have played better and closed it out with some leads and some games. Hopefully, we’ll learn from those experiences and those will help us in conference play. We did some good things, competed well and unfortunately weren’t able to close a few out where we had leads late.

DP: Penn and Princeton are the two schools that do not play both of their travel-partner head-to-head’s prior to the first Ivy doubleheader weekend. Meanwhile, Brown played Yale twice in the last few weeks. Which way do you prefer?

MM: I think the biggest challenge with us not starting the real true Friday-Saturday round robin until this weekend, the reality is it’s really hard to get non-conference games in early-, mid-, late-January. Anytime in January, it’s really tough to get non-league games. That’s why you see Penn have one game since the Princeton game. That’s the reality of it, so the solution is probably just to play your travel partner in those weekends leading up to the first Friday-Saturday weekend.

DP: How would you describe the progression of Cedric Kuakumensah over the last few years?

MM: He’s a great kid. He’s a really hard worker and extremely humble and coachable. He’s gone from a guy who’s really a defensive presence and a rebounder his first year, year-and-a-half to a guy who was our leading scorer. He can stretch the floor, he can shoot the three, score inside, make plays off the dribble. That’s all because of how hard he’s worked. Just to see the development in him has been great as a coach and it’s because of how hard he’s worked and the time he’s put in.

DP: Who are the underclassmen that are standing out to you?

MM: In reality, one senior plays and three juniors are part of our rotation. The other nine guys are all freshmen and sophomores. That’s a lot of our team, and we’ve seen a lot of good performances. Maybe we’d like to see a little more consistency, and the guys are working hard to be more consistent, but I think that’s what you see with freshmen and sophomores in college basketball. We’re really excited about our young players and are really optimistic about their futures and our future as a program. We’ve got a lot of guys that have worked really hard.

DP: How would you describe your relationship with Steve Donahue?

MM: He was the head coach at Cornell when I was playing at Brown. We had mutual respect for each other, I had coached against him when I was an assistant at Penn, when he had those great teams at Cornell. He’s been a guy that I’ve looked up to, we’ve had a good relationship. I have respect for how his teams played. When he was at Boston College, I would visit him here and there, watch his team practice and talk to him about the game, coaching college basketball. He’s a great coach, and he’s a really good person.

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