2001-02 Ivy League Preview
by Adam Shandler
Attention Ivy Leaguers: Anybody? Anybody? Anybody other than Princeton and Penn?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you want me to say Penn or Princeton is going to win the Ivy and then move on with “yada yada” reports about the also-rans. Can’t say I blame you. Not since 1988 has a team other than Princeton or Penn made the NCAA tournament. (Useless trivia: that team was Cornell.)
The Tigers and Quakers remain the class of the league, but this year, clubs like Brown, Yale and Columbia just might have a shot at stealing the title. Now won’t that be a hoot?
Projected Champ: Princeton
Dark Horse: Columbia
Better off Studying: Dartmouth
1. Princeton: I pick them only because they were last season’s champ, they’re deep and they have a lot of leadership. So sue me! The backdoors will be opened by F Mike Bechtold and Freshman C Dominick Martin. Last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year Konrad Wysocki could be Player of the Year this season.
2. Brown: Yeah, you read right. I picked Brown. Not just to be controversial but because I think that this team has the talent. Enough talent to unseat Penn at second place. The Bears return league-leading scorer Earl Hunt, who averaged an Ivy-unheard-of 19.7 points per game last season.
3. Pennsylvania: Fran Dunphy, if he puts together the cohesive unit we’ve come to know, could lead the Quakers to a league title and a reconsideration from me. Their success hinges on 6-8 junior forward Ugonna Onyekwe, but the big-man must behave himself or he will be ridin’ pine.
4. Yale: I’d like to say the Bulldogs have reached Brown-style contender status. In the early going, they’re showing flickers of decency. They beat Penn State at State College (small victories are still victories, y’know!) and forward Paul Vitelli and freshman Edwin Draughan could be a lethal tandem.
5. Columbia: If you’re passing through Harlem with nothing to do, head over to the Levien Gym. 6-6 Craig Austin is versatile for a swingman – a quality all-around player who is fun to watch. If the backcourt shows up, Columbia could be the nicest surprise of the league.
6. Cornell: A team that needs a little more time. How ’bout another decade? No, I kid because I love. Coach Steve Donahue brought a slew of rookies to Ithaca, including Chris Vandenburg, who was just named to the Canadian National Junior Team. The Big Red only managed 25 points in an early-season 30-point loss to Notre Dame. More like a scrimmage.
7. Harvard: Wicked prahblems in Cambridge. All backcourt (a three-guard alignment makes the Crimson tick) and no front. The Ivy League is getting better at getting bigger but Harvard lacks the size upfront to compete. An early win over Fairfield kicked off the season right with point guard Patrick Harvey netting 19 points and 6 assists.
8. Dartmouth: Since there are only eight teams in this league I can’t rank the Green Wave (what is it with the Ivy League and these colorful names?) any lower. Point guard Flinder Boyd is a playmaker, but he has no one else to make plays for. 17 Dartmouth turnovers resulted in an opening season loss to Division I newcomer Binghamton.