By Eric Brod
Bryan Cohen ’12 is the man who the Bison men’s basketball team relies on on a nightly basis to shut down the opposing team’s top player. Whether it’s Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum or the UConn Huskies’ all-purpose guard Kemba Walker, Cohen has always responded with tenacity that has earned him back-to-back Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year awards. During last week’s 67-61 victory over American, it was Cohen’s offensive game that was celebrated when he nailed a three-pointer in the opening minutes for his 1,000th career point. Cohen became the 35th player in program history to reach the milestone, sending the boisterous student section into a frenzy as fans held up signs to celebrate the moment.
“It is a great accomplishment for me because it put me in the company of some of the greatest players to come through this basketball program,” Cohen said. “It is also a great accomplishment for me because this is an achievement on the offensive end of the floor which can be difficult for me at times, having to chase around opponents all over the court throughout the game.”
While Cohen has maintained his defensive prowess this season, most notably holding McCollum, the nation’s fifth leading scorer as of Wednesday night, to 14 points on 5-15 shooting, his offensive game has been solid. So far this season, Cohen is shooting 32 percent from three point range while averaging 6.6 points per game, good for fifth-highest on the team. Most importantly, Cohen has had a knack this season for scoring buckets when the team needs it, whether it’s a big three or timely layup to end the opposing team’s run, as was the case against Lehigh.
“Honestly, it is extremely tough to have the assignment of guarding the best offensive player, as well as being aggressive on the offensive end of the floor,” Cohen said. “Coming into college my freshmen year I was more of a scorer; however, throughout the rest of my career my coach had given the role of focusing more on the defensive end by becoming the defensive stopper to help the overall success of the team. It is a role that most players do not tend enjoy the most but it was the role I was given and took it in stride.”
As the veteran leader of the team, Cohen knows the importance of his role as his team looks to defend its Patriot League title and advance to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.
“The main focus of the team is that we must understand that we have a bull’s eye on our back, being the defending champions, which means that we are getting every team’s best shot every game,” Cohen said. “We must attack every practice and make sure that we are focused for every single game because every team plays their best game against the champs.”
Without a doubt, the will of Cohen and his defense will play a huge factor in the Orange and Blue’s effort to defend their league title.