A basketball player at Brown University was in critical condition after being punched in the head in what appeared to be an unprovoked assault on the East Side of Providence. Deputy Police Chief Thomas Oates said Joseph Sharkey, 21, of Norwood, Mass., suffered severe head injuries when a man came up to him and hit him early Sunday morning while he was talking to a group of women around Thayer and George streets. Both campus and Providence police responded. Oates said he did not know if Sharkey and the assailant knew each other. A Rhode Island Hospital spokesman said Sharkey was in critical condition.