By Kevin Aherne
Discussions of college sports in Rhode Island generally focus on the PC Friars, Rhody Rams, and even occasionally, Brown Bears. However, the one athletic program in the Ocean State that is left out of these conversations is refusing to be ignored any longer...
Since making the leap to Division I in 2008, Bryant University has made a strong commitment and investment into its athletic program. In 2012-13, this investment is yielding huge returns. From top to bottom, the relatively small Smithfield school has become a force in the mid-major scene, and have now tacked a few postseason appearances to their resume.
In their first year of eligibility, Bryant sent three of its men's teams into postseason play:
The basketball squad was considered an elite team in the NEC, and despite being upset by Mount St. Mary's in the conference tourney, earned a spot in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). Although they lost in the first round to a powerful Richmond team, they finished the season with an impressive 19-12 record... a 17 win improvement over its previous season.
The Bulldog Lacrosse team actually had a lackluster regular season, but still punched Bryant's first ticket to an NCAA "Big Dance." After starting off the season with seven straight losses, they gained momentum at the right time. They went 4-1 in conference play, and then swept through the NEC Tourney, landing themselves in the NCAA Tournament. They were paired up against Syracuse in the first round, and despite hanging tough for three periods, the powerhouse Orange ended up pulling out the victory in the end, winning 12-7.
The baseball team didn't start off much better than their Lax Brothers, as they failed to record a win in their first seven games. However, the Steve Owen led Bulldogs then proceeded to go on a remarkable 44-10 tear, plowing their way through the NEC, and landing themselves in the College World Series Super-Regionals.
This is where we stand today... Bryant is in Manhattanville, Kansas, waiting to begin a double-elimination regional bracket, which they are pitted against Kansas State, Wichita State, and perennial powerhouse Arkansas, who they play on Friday.
So show your Rhody Pride, and cheer on Dan Muscatello, Kevin Brown, and the rest of the Bulldogs as they attempt to obtain Bryant's first ever Division I Tournament win.
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