After a banner year in which Penn, Princeton and Yale claimed a share of the Ivy League championship, the 2002-03 season promises to offer up even more exciting, high-quality hoops action.
Penn, Princeton, and Yale are not the only causes for optimism. Harvard and Brown both posted winning overall records a season ago, and Cornell returns eight letter winners.
Here’s a quick look at the Ancient Eight, in order of predicted finish.
1. Penn Quakers (25-7, 11-3 Ivy, Tied 1st)
Penn returns all of its starters, including three senior All-Ivy selections: forwards Ugonna Onyekwe, Koko Archibong, and guard Andrew Toole. Onyekwe led the team with 17.5 ppg, while Archibong and Toole chipped in 14.2 and 13.9 ppg. Guards Jeff Schiffner and Tim Begley round out the starting five.
Penn is not just an outstanding Ivy team; The Sporting News has the Quakers ranked No. 29 in the nation. Cornell head coach Steve Donahue concurred with the media’s praise of Penn saying, “They can be like Gonzaga was, within a couple points of the Final Four. Nothing would surprise me. That’s how good they are.”
It will be a major surprise if anyody knocks the Quakers off the Ivy pedestal.
2. Yale Bulldogs (21-11, 11-3, Tied 1st)
All five starters return from a 21-win team. Four players scored in double-digits per game last season, paced by guard Edwin Draughan’s 11.5 ppg. Another guard, Alex Gamboa, was Ivy Rookie of the Year last season. Inside, forwards Paul Vitelli and T.J. McHugh are excellent on the boards. Additionally, Ime Archibong, a swingman, contributed 9.2 ppg.
The Eli offense is one of the Ancient Eight’s most potent attacks. Unfortunately, unless Penn collapses, the Bulldogs will likely end up in the NIT. However, with one of the younger rosters in the league, the Bulldogs could make some noise down the road.
3. Brown Bears (17-10, 8-6, 4th)
Led by All-Ivy guard Earl Hunt, the Bears have posted their first back-to-back winning seasons in 27 years. Hunt led the team with 19.7 ppg in 2001-02, with guard Jason Forte and center Alai Nuualiitia contributing 11.3 ppg and 11.2 ppg, respectively. Forward Jaime Kilborn and guard Mike Martin will round out the starting five.
Despite boasting the conference’s best offense, Brown also gave up a league-high 74 points per game. If it can shore up its defense, Brown will continue its recent string of Ivy League successes.
4. Princeton Tigers (16-12, 11-3, Tied 1st)
John Thompson is one of the league’s best coaches and guard Spencer Gloger is perhaps the most versatile player in the league, so the Tigers are hard to discount. Andre Logan, a talented forward, scored 9.3 ppg last year. Other key contributors include guards Kyle Wente and Will Venable, and forwards Konrad Wysocki and Ray Robins.
While the Tigers lack the talent of past Princeton teams, their disciplined play may allow them to challenge for the Ivy crown, especially if Gloger returns to his 1999-2000 form, when he averaged 13 ppg.
5. Harvard Crimson (14-12, 7-7, 5th)
The Crimson has a solid core of players led by All-Ivy guard Patrick Harvey. The sharpshooter scored 18.1 ppg last season and will be joined in the backcourt by Elliot Prasse-Freeman. Prasse-Freeman led the league in assists at 5.3 per game a year ago.
Additionally, Harvard’s recruiting class, highlighted by forward Zach Martin, might be the best in the league.
Overall, chances are good that Harvard will win at least ten games for the eighth consecutive year. However, it is unlikely that Harvard will crack the first division given the strength of the teams ahead of it.
6. Cornell Red (5-22. 2-12, Tied 7th)
See pgs. 3-4 in the supplement for previews of the team’s guards and forwards.
7. Dartmouth Green (9-18, 2-12, Tied 7th)
Small forward Charles Harris will be the Green’s primary scorer. Last year, Harris averaged 10.8 ppg. Guard Mike McLaren will be another offensive option. He contributed 9.1 ppg a year ago.
However, the graduation of All-Ivy guard Flinder Boyd will hamper the Green. The bench has little to offer, with center Scott Klingbeil the only reserve that averaged more than 10 minutes a game last season. An uninspiring freshman class probably will not provide much help, either.
8. Columbia Lions (11-17, 4-10, 6th)
Only center Chris Wiedemann returns to the starting lineup from last year’s underachieving team. He averaged 7.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 2.5 bpg in 2001-02.
2002-03 will constitute a rebuilding year for Columbia. Many newcomers will see significant playing time immediately, including small forward Chris Owens and power forward Dodson Worthington.
Archived article by Mark Fetzko