Ryan Martin did a lot of everything last season for the Keene State men’s basketball team.

He served as point guard, was counted on to score and relied upon to provide shut-down defense where needed on the court.

“I had the ball in my hands a lot,” said Martin, a 2008 Maranacook graduate. “I had to guard the point guard all the time.”

Added Keene State coach Rob Colbert: “We put a lot of pressure on him. We asked him to do a lot for us, and he did. But it had some drawbacks late in the season.”

Indeed, it did for Martin, who was named Mr. Maine Basketball after leading the Black Bears to the Class B state championship his senior year.

As the Owls marched through the Little East Conference last season, Martin’s numbers slowly begin to dip.

“We pushed him probably a little too much,” Colbert said. “We asked probably too much of him. So this year we decided to take some of the load off his shoulders. We need him to be fresh for us all year.”

The results?

Martin is thriving yet again.

He’s averaging a team-best 14.7 points a game, which is good for third in the Little East Conference, as the starting shooting guard. Martin averaged 17.1 points last season.

“It’s a different role,” said Martin, who is in his third season at Keene State after transferring from the University of Maine. “There is not as much of a load on my shoulders. It is a little bit different not having the ball in my hands.”

Martin has started 20 of 21 games for the Owls (13-8), who sit fourth in the LEC behind Southern Maine, Eastern Connecticut and frontrunner Rhode Island College.

The senior guard is also shooting 49.2 percent from the floor, which leads the team and is 10th in the conference.

“We expected a big season from him,” Colbert said. “We count on him for scoring. We want him shooting the ball. We actually want him to take more shots.”

The Owls have reached the LEC semifinals for two consecutive seasons. Last year, they lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to top seed Eastern Connecticut. Keene State finished 19-8.

Colbert said the team is well-positioned for another run. The Owls are just two games out of first with four regular season games remaining.

“I feel great,” said Martin, a physical education major. “It’s a tough league we play in. It will all come down to winning three (LEC) tournament games, and which team is hot.”

Martin added he plans to pursue a professional career in basketball.

“I want to play basketball for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m going to try and see if I can get tryouts, maybe play over seas. We’ll see.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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