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Ivy League Notebook

December 31, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Jason Haslam

Harvard Hanging in There

After opening the season at 7-2, their best start since the 1984-85 season, the Crimson seem to be fading quickly after dropping games to Boston College, Richmond, and VMI. The Crimson now 7-5, begin Ivy League play January 4th against Dartmouth, but can’t be feeling too confident after consecutive defeats in the Spider Invitational.

Senior point guard Elliot Prasse-Freeman has been sensational in guiding the Crimson through their fast start. But in the defeat to BC he played just 26 minutes, fouling out with a little over five minutes left in regulation, scoring zero points, with six assists, and three turnovers. Things got worse for Freeman, who is currently fourth in the nation in assists per game (7.8), against Richmond as he committed eight turnovers to just four assists, in a loss to the Spiders 86-59 on December 28.

Those two games belie the fact that Freeman has played like the team’s MVP. The real culprit has been maligned leading scorer, senior shooting guard Patrick Harvey. Playing through tendonitis in his right foot he is shooting a horrid 34 percent from the field. Team captain Brady Merchant has been playing admirably taking up a portion of the scoring load averaging 15.8 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. As the Crimson go into league play they lack solid contributors off the bench and a formidable defensive presence. The Crimson have five senior starters, four of who are averaging 33 minutes a game or more, the rest of the squad is loaded with inexperienced sophomores and freshman. They are sixth in the league in points allowed at 71.3 per game, ironically they are tied for second in the league at holding opponents to just 40 percent shooting.

Additional notes: Freeman set a school-record with 16 assists in 86-74 win against Mercer, December 19, his assist/turnover ratio is a solid 2.3 to 1…Despite a weak bench sophomore guard Kevin Rogus has shot a hot 13-for-27 from beyond the arc, but is averaging just eight minutes a game…Senior power forward Sam Winter leads the league in rebounding with 8.3 a contest.

Princeton Can’t Seem to Find a Rhythm

At 4-6, and coming off 77-71 a loss at Santa Clara, the Tigers seem unable to put together a string of wins. A season-ending knee injury to junior forward Andre Logan three games into the season, a tough non-conference schedule and the inability to take advantage of open looks have hindered the squad thus far. Spencer Gloger has been a linchpin, leading the conference in scoring with 17.8 a game and shooting a steady 46 percent from the field. The Tigers have suffered perplexing losses to both Rider and Florida International, yet came within three points of upsetting Texas and within six of Rutgers.

The Tigers play three more non-conference games against Holy Cross (who have already beaten Harvard and Brown), then play University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and Ursinus. All three appear to be winnable games, and if the Tigers can take these next three, they will go into conference play with a winning record and some confidence.

As the conference’s leading scorer, Gloger is averaging a mere 13 shots per game, and even more impressive is how well he takes care of the ball. In the last five games, he has committed only five turnovers. That says a lot about his maturity and patience, especially since he averages over 34 minutes a game and as the leading scorer, is getting the most touches.

Cornell Has The Talent, But Not The Wins

With an extremely young roster, coach Steve Donahue’s Big Red are skidding out of control amid a five-game losing streak, in which they are losing on average by almost 15 points a game. At 2-6 with only two seniors and one junior, the Big Red are being carried by their youngsters. Sophomore power forward Eric Taylor and sophomore shooting guard Cody Toppert are performing exceptionally despite the team’s futility.

Taylor is putting up first-team Ivy League numbers averaging 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and is shooting a blistering 58 percent from the field. Toppert is scoring 14.5 a game and leads the conference with 3.3 trifectas a game. However, both are struggling in the department of free-throws. Taylor lacks accuracy, shooting an abysmal 45 percent (23-for-51). Toppert’s problem seems to be an unwillingness to drive to the basket as indicated by his thirteen attempts on the season. Last year despite shooting 91 percent from the line, Toppert ,managed a miniscule 35 attempts in 27 games.

At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Taylor is a hulking presence and in just his second season is a tri-captain on the squad. In their loss to Syracuse back in early December, Taylor faced off against Carmelo Anthony, considered the top freshman in the nation and probable NBA lottery pick. Though Anthony had 21 points and 10 boards, Taylor held him to 5-for-13 shooting and managed 13 points and nine rebounds against the freshman phenom.

     

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