November 11, 2010

Princeton Tigers Ready to Pounce in Men’s Basketball Ivy League Preview

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Penn Quakers

2009-10: 6-22, 5-9 Ivy (T-5th)

A season ago, Penn shocked the college basketball world by defeating then-No. 22 Cornell at the Palestra in Philadelphia on Feb. 12, 79-64. Two of the engineers behind that upset, junior Zack Rosen and senior Jack Eggleston, will return for the Quakers in 2010-11 in hopes of repeating the magic of last February. Rosen’s 24 points and Eggleston’s 22 led the team in its rout of the eventual three-time defending Ivy League champs, and their great play throughout the year earned both players All-Ivy honors at season’s end. Despite the high-profile victory over the Red and the emergence of two Ivy League stars, the Quakers finished just 5-9 in the conference last season (6-22 overall). 2010-11 is a new season, though, and Penn figures to be healthier and better equipped for an Ivy League run this winter. In addition to Rosen and Eggleston, former Ivy League Rookie of the Year and All-Ivy honorable mention Tyler Bernardini will be back in uniform after suffering a season-ending injury in the Quakers’ second game a year ago. If Bernardini returns to form and Rosen and Eggleston maintain their high level of play, head coach Jerome Allen should see a significant jump in the standings in his first full season at the helm.

Princeton Tigers

2009-10: 22-9, 11-3 (2nd)

With Cornell predicted to be in a transition stage after three straight Ivy League titles, Princeton once again finds itself atop the conference prior to the 2010-11 season. The top five scorers from last season’s second-place Tigers squad will be back this year in hopes of building on an 11-3 conference record (22-9 overall) and earning its first NCAA tournament bid since 2004. Douglas Davis and Dan Mavraides will figure to lead the Princeton offense once again this season after averaging 12.7 and 11.5 points per game, respectively, a year ago. While offensive statistics garner all the attention, though, it is the defensive side of the ball where the Tigers will shine this winter. Princeton ranked No. 1 in scoring defense in the NCAA last season, allowing just 53.3 points per contest. If the best offense is truly a good defense, the Tigers will once again be competing for an Ivy League championship in 2010-11.

Columbia Lions

2009-10: 11-17, 5-9 (T-5th)

The Lions are yet another team to welcome in a new head coach in 2010-11. Kyle Smith was named the 22nd head coach in school history this past summer and will look to improve a Columbia team that finished 5-9 in the conference (11-17 overall) a season ago. Thirteen players will return from that squad, including All-Ivy League junior guard Noruwa Agho. Agho averaged over 16 points per contest in 2009-10 –– good for second among all returning Ivy League players –– and is a considerable threat from beyond the arc. To balance Agho, the Lions feature four seniors at the post positions. If Columbia can return to its usually defensive-minded form after giving up 65.3 points per game a year ago, expect to hear from the Lions in 2010-11.

Brown Bears

2009-10 : 11-20, 5-9 (T-5th)

The post-Matt Mullery era will begin for Brown in 2010-11 as the Bears look to avoid yet another middle-of-the-pack finish in Ivy League play. With its No. 16 all-time leading scorer and two-time All-Ivy selection now graduated, Brown will turn to senior forward Peter Sullivan to lead the way this season. Sullivan is also climbing the Bears’ scoring ranks –– currently ranked No. 20 –– and will try to improve upon a 12.3 points per game scoring average in 2009-10. Joining Sullivan in the Brown frontcourt will be sophomore Tucker Halpern, who last year ranked third on the team with 8.1 points per game. The player to look out for may be senior guard Garrett Leffelman, though. Leffelman averaged 12 points per Ivy League contest last season. With nine underclassmen on the roster, Jesse Agel’s Bears squad might have to wait a couple of years to climb the Ivy standings, but don’t be surprised if Brown makes some noise in 2010-11.

Yale Bulldogs

2009-10: 12-19, 6-8 (T-4th)

While most Ivy League programs appear to be in coaching turmoil heading into the 2010-11 campaign, the Yale Bulldogs boast the most tenured coach in the conference. James Jones has coached the Bulldogs for 11 years and will begin his 12th this season with hopes of improving his team’s 6-8 conference record (12-19 overall) from a season ago. The task will not be an easy one, as Yale will be without the graduated Alex Zampier, who led the team in scoring in 2009-10 with 17.4 points per game. As a result of Zampier’s departure, senior Michael Sands will be relied upon to lead the Bulldogs after emerging as an All-Ivy honorable mention last year. Sands averaged 10.8 points per contest in 2009-10.

Harvard Crimson

2009-10: 21-8, 10-4 (T-3rd)

No Jeremy Lin? No problem. At least that is the preseason perception surrounding Harvard prior to the 2010-11 campaign. Despite losing its four-time All-Ivy guard to the NBA last spring, the Crimson figures to once again vie for the conference title after finishing with a commendable 21-8 (10-4 Ivy) record in 2009-10. Eight players return for fourth-year head coach Tommy Amaker’s squad, including last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Kyle Casey. Casey, who was second on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game and first in rebounding with 5.1 per contest last year, figures to play an even larger role in the Crimson attack this season. Junior co-captains Oliver McNally and Keith Wright, who both averaged over seven points per game a year ago, will join Casey in trying to live up to the team’s preseason No. 2 ranking in the Ivy League. In all, the roster will consist of three juniors, five sophomores and six incoming freshmen, so expect the Crimson to reside in the better half of the Ivy League standings for years to come.

Dartmouth Green

2008-09: 9-19, 7-7 (T-4th)

A year after finishing a dismal 5-23 with just one win in Ivy League play, the Big Green is once again predicted to reside in the conference cellar this season. Nevertheless, the team will be returning eight players from a year ago, including leading scorer Ronnie Dixon (9.3 points per game), and will also be welcoming back Paul Cormier as head coach. After Terry Dunn resigned as coach midway through last season, Cormier was hired to return to the Big Green this offseason. Cormier last coached Dartmouth in 1991 and will look to build a competitive program from the ground up.

Original Author: Dan Froats