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Bryant's Bans making his 'point'

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Shea graduate and Bryant University sophomore point guard Erickson Bans, above, wants the ball more in his hands this season after all-conference guard Michael Green III transferred to Robert Morris.

SMITHFIELD — Whether it be high school or college, it’ll never come as a shock to learn that Erickson Bans wants the ball in his hands.

As the Pawtucket native and Shea High product prepares for his sophomore season with the Bryant University men’s basketball team, he does so with an eye towards holding down the fort at point guard. This particular version of Erickson Bans wants to do his part to place Peter Kiss, Charles Pride, Chris Childs, and others on the Bulldog roster in advantageous positions to score.

This isn’t to say that Bans is turning over a new leaf. He isn’t bidding farewell to the scoring prowess that proved instrumental to him becoming the top scorer in R.I. Interscholastic League history.

That particular side of his own personal basketball equation will never leave him.

In order for Bryant to take one step further after dropping last year’s NEC Championship Game on its home floor, the player who head coach Jared Grasso once described as a playmaker who can really pass the ball plans to be all in on serving as the Bulldogs’ floor general.

“The point guard role is something that I want to have, but I just want to win at the end of the day,” said Bans prior to the start of Monday’s practice at the Chase Athletic Center. “Whatever it takes, I’m willing to do. I’m just coming into practice looking to put my work in so it pays off on the court.”

The opening that Bans hopes to ultimately seize was created when Michael Green III decided to transfer following two strong seasons with the Bulldogs. Green is currently hooping it up at Robert Morris.

On the subject of replacing Green, Grasso mentioned George Washington transfer Tyler Brelsford, senior Luis Hurtado Jr., and Kiss as potential trigger men to power a Bryant attack that returns four players who averaged double digits as part of last year’s 15-win group.

“I do think [the point guard spot] will be by committee,” said Grasso. “The way we play on misses, whoever gets the rebound is the point guard. The only time we worry about that spot is on makes. Whoever gets the ball on misses is the one starting the break.”

Then there’s Bans.

“I think he’s grown in terms of basketball intelligence. He’s in his second year and has a better understanding of what I want from him … picking his spots offensively and giving us great energy defensively,” said Grasso. “Learning the game has been the biggest thing for him.”

Bans’ freshman season with the Bulldogs was earmarked by noticeable growth. By season’s end, he emerged as a valuable member of Grasso’s rotation. His crowning moment came in Bryant’s win over Sacred Heart in the NEC semifinals. With several regulars sidelined with COVID-19, Bans started and logged 39 minutes while scoring 13 points.

“At the end of the season, it was more about me stepping up and giving it all that I had to help us win,” said Bans. “The older guys helped me a lot with the little mistakes on defense and the details I was missing in practice.”

Chemistry-wise, Bans noted the Bulldogs are light years ahead of last year’s group. They spent six weeks together during the summer and have been squaring off against one another daily since the official start of practice in late September.

“We were able to connect as last season went along, but starting in the summer and being with your guys as you put in the work, I feel like we have a good group who are bound to go far,” said Bans. “One through five, we have a lot of talent. Everyone can shoot. Everyone can dribble the ball. We all play hard. We just have that winning mentality.”

On the subject of pundits and prognosticators picking the Bulldogs to represent the NEC in the NCAA Tournament, Bans says it’s a testament to how far the program has come in Grasso’s time in Smithfield.

“It’s big because this program wasn’t where it was at a few years ago, but we’re going to do what it takes to win,” said Bans. “We’re in the gym 24/7. I feel like it’s all going to pan out. Last year we got a taste of being in the finals. We know what’s expected of us to win this year.”

A new college basketball season means the return of fans. For someone who used to play his high school home games in tight quarters that would feature a higher decibel level whenever Shea played a big game at The Cage, Bans says there’s no time like the present to get re-introduced to playing before spectators.

“Feeding off their energy is going to make us better and make us have more fun on the court,” said Bans. “We’re not going to win without the fans.”

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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