November 2, 2007

Cornell Challenges For Ivy Supremacy

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For the first time in awhile, it looks like every team will have a legitimate shot at capturing the Ivy League basketball crown. With Penn graduating four starters — including former two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Ibrahim Jaaber — the Ancient Eight seems to be open for the taking. The Red has been predicted to win the crown — its first since 1988 — by the Ivy League media. Right behind Cornell are Yale, Penn, Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth, respectively. The Ivy League also made news this off-season with huge head coach signings. Harvard made the biggest splash of them all, signing former Seton Hall and Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker.

Pennsylvania Quakers
2006-07: 22-9, 13-1 Ivy

The question around the Ivy League is, did last year mark the end of Penn’s Ivy League supremacy? After losing two-time All-Ivy performer Ibrahim Jaaber and standout Mark Zoller, uncertainty looms around the team’s chances of heading to the NCAA tournament. With only two starters returning and much inexperience around them, former Brown coach Glen Miller seems to have his hands full in Philadelphia.
Despite the departures, the Quakers do return nine letter winners and have a rich winning history in the Ancient Eight. The Quakers have won three consecutive Ivy League titles and seven in the past decade.

Cornell Red
2006-07: 16-12, 9-5

See pages 7-11 for an in-depth preview of the 2006-07 men’s basketball team.

Princeton Tigers
2006-07: 11-17, 2-12

The Tigers, who have been relatively quiet over the years, made a big smash in late April with the hiring of head coach Sydney Johnson. Johnson, who once played for the Tigers, brings immediate credibility to the squad having coached under Georgetown’s John Thompson III during the Hoyas NCAA tournament runs.
While the Tigers featured a very young team last year, they did lead Division I in scoring defense, allowing only 53.3 points per game.
Senior co-captains Kyle Koncz and Noah Savage will look to guide a team that is returning four starters. Koncz, who was limited last year due to a foot injury, is expected to perform at full health. Sophomore guards Marcus Schroeder and Lincoln Gunn started each game for the Tigers last year and now have a full year of experience.

Columbia Lions
2005-06: 16-12, 7-7

The Red’s New York counterparts will fight for in-state supremacy this year after returning one of the Ivy Leagues best big men, senior John Baumann. Baumann had the best shooting percentage last year in the Ivy League and has led the Lions in scoring for the past two years. He will also be aided inside by senior center Ben Nwachukwu. Sophomore guard Patrick Foley will also play a bigger role after a standout freshman campaign.
With a squad that returns all five starters, the Lions possess the most experienced team in the Ancient Eight.

Brown Bears
2006-07 : 11-18, 6-8

Under the instruction of the 2007 Ivy League Coach of the Year Craig Robinson, the Bears will look to ascend to the top of the Ivy League rankings. Brown returns an All-Ivy backcourt, headlined by senior guard Mark McAndrew, who averaged 15.8 points per contest last season (third in the Ivy League). One of his stellar performances came against the Red, a game in which he scored a career-high 33 points.
All-Ivy honorable mention Damon Huffman will look to aid McAndrew in the backcourt along with two other returning starters. Huffman was the Ivy League’s seventh-leading scorer with 14.7 points per game.
Huffman has shown his great ability in shooting — in particular the 3-point shot. In a contest against Rhode Island, he went 8-for-11 behind the arc to score a career-high 30 points. His 160 career 3-pointers are third best in Brown’s basketball history.

Yale Bulldogs
2006-07: 14-13, 10-4

The Bulldogs will enter the Ivy League season as one of the favorites to win it all. Thanks to the scoring ability of All-Ivy senior guard Eric Flato and the return of three other seniors, Yale expects to be in the Ivy League title race. The Bulldogs fell one win short of capturing the title last season after losing at Penn in the last weekend of Ivy League play. One large impediment is the loss of second team All-Ivy performer Casey Hughes at small forward, who was also the team’s best defender.
The biggest weakness for the Bulldogs will stem from the frontcourt, from which they lost all three starting players. Juniors Ross Morin, Travis Pinick and sophomore Paul Nelson will look to fill the void left by last year’s graduating class.
Freshman Michael Sands figures to have an impact in his rookie season as one of the best big men in Long Island (after being named Nassau County Player of the Year) and one of the best in New York State.

Harvard Crimson
2006-07: 13-14, 5-9

The Crimson made some huge noise this off-season signing former Michigan and Seton Hall head coach Tommy Amaker. Amaker, like Princeton’s Sydney Johnson, will bring credibility to the squad and play a huge role in the team’s recruiting and playing success.
The question is, will Amaker be able to coach this team to a championship without players that he has recruited? Junior point guard Drew Housman looks to be the team’s key player with last year’s top scorer graduating.
In his sophomore campaign, Housman scored 13.3 points per game and led the team in assists and steals. His performance was good enough to earn him All-Ivy honorable mention. Joining Housman in the backcourt is junior Andrew Pusar, who started every game for the Crimson last year.

Dartmouth Green
9-18, 4-10

The Green is looking to make its first NCAA Tour­na­ment appearance since 1959. The key for the Green this year will be to avoid injuries. Last year, a wealth of injuries decimated the roster and led to the team’s 4-10 Ivy League record. Dartmouth will need to stay more healthy this year with last season’s leading scorer, Leon Pattman, graduating. On the positive side, the squad returns three players from last year’s starting lineup.
The Green hope adjusting its backcourt will have a positive impact on the season. Junior DeVon Mosley, who started 24 games at point guard last year will move over to shooting guard, allowing junior Marlon Sanders to play the point. Sanders started the first two games for the Green last year before suffering an injury.
The team’s best player just might be sophomore forward Alex Barnett, who showed at times last year that he could be an All-Ivy performer.