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Ivy League Notebook

February 12, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Jason Haslam

Brown’s In the “Hunt” For First Place

Brown owns an eight game-winning streak, including six league victories, and are off to their best start in league play since 1981. Senior guard Earl Hunt scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half as the Bears gutted out a 91-86 win over Harvard 91-86. The Bears (11-9, 6-0) are on the cusp of being considered league contenders, supplanting both Harvard and Yale who have dropped out of the picture. That status will be tested this weekend when the Bears will travel to both Penn and Princeton.

Led by the scoring machine Hunt and the brute play of Alaivaa Nuualiitia, the Bears are turning into the surprise story of the league. Hunt was named Ivy League Player of the Week for the third time this season as the Bears margin of victory during this streak is nearly 12 points a game. The inside-outside attack of Hunt and Nuualiitia are giving opposing defenses fits, and the stability by Jason Forte at point guard has been instrumental. Forte is averaging 11.4 points a game, a team-leading five assists and almost two steals a game. Moreover, the diminutive sophomore, Forte, (6-feet 160 pounds) also leads the team in free throw attempts. Coincidentally the Bears top the league in free throw shooting as a team at 74 percent.

During their eight-game tear, the Bears have vastly out-shot opponents from the charity stripe 175-for-232 (77 percent) to 88-for-132 (67 percent). Such disparities have been paramount to the Bears success. For example, on February 1 at Columbia, Bears were out-rebounded by a 41-25 margin, but connected on 31 free throws as the Lions only attempted 14.

Such differences have played a huge part for the Bears, but with an RPI ranking of 196, they need to hope some things fall their way in league play, and if they can manage a split this weekend, they would be putting themselves in great shape for a chance at the title.

The Crimson Are Left With Little

As the college basketball season has moved forward, the Crimson have not. Despite a solid jump out the gate at 7-2, the Crimson (10-9, 2-4) have lost seven of their last 10, and that’s not even the bad news. Senior shooting guard and leading scorer Patrick Harvey has been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season, crushing any hopes of salvation for a team that some observers thought could overcome the league dominance of both Penn and Princeton.

According to reports in The Harvard Crimson, coach Frank Sullivan notified Harvey as well as the rest of the team that their star player had just played in his last game of his collegiate career, a 73-68 loss to Yale. Unfortunately, a lackluster effort in the classroom is nothing new to Harvey. He missed the entire 1999-2000 season due to academics and upon completing last year’s spring semester, he was put back on probation. Not only does Harvey lose his place on the basketball squad, it has also been indicated that he will be forced to withdraw from the university too.

Harvey leads the team in scoring, minutes per game, three-pointers, free throw shooting, and steals. It should be interesting how coach Sullivan leads his team through this. Seniors Elliot Prasse-Freeman, Sam Winter, and Brady Merchant will continue to carry this youthful squad on its backs, as the post-Harvey era begins this Friday against Columbia. Guard Jason Norman, who is averaging 11.3 minutes and 3.4 points a game is a likely replacement for the now departed Harvey. And finally some good news for the team. Center Brian Cusworth had a big day in the loss to Brown, collecting his first double-double of his young career 14 points and 12 rebounds. The league recognized his efforts by naming him Freshman of the Week.

Onyekwe and Quakers Outmuscle Tigers for 65-55 Win

Ugonna Onyekwe did what a senior is supposed to do. He took care of business and was willing to do it at any cost.

“I just wanted it real badly today,” said Onyekwe after a dominating 22 point and 12 rebound performance to beat arch-rival Princeton 65-55, as the Quakers moved up to 13-5 and 5-0 in league play. Last season the Quakers were an uncharacteristic 2-3 after five games, but managed to win nine straight and clinch the league crown. The Quakers have now won 14 straight league games, and finally look to be getting that Ivy swagger back.

“We still have to beat Brown,” Onyekwe said. “We’re not taking anyone for granted.”

The Quakers were in firm control throughout the first half, as Onyekwe set the tone by dashing across the lane with an acrobatic block that left Tiger guard Will Venable on his backside. The Tigers (10-8, 4-1) scored just two points in the final 10 minutes of the first half trailing 27-19. However, the Tigers would make things interesting as star forward Spencer Gloger, who was held scoreless in the first half, started to catch fire, as the Tigers put together a 14-2 run with just over 11 minutes left to play.

Onyekwe played like a swashbuckler, constantly demanding the ball down low. He put the Quakers up 38-37, which guard Andrew Toole followed with a short bank shot that gave them the lead for good. Onyekwe’s timely performance made up for teammate Koko Archibong’s five fouls in 17 minutes. One Tiger defender after another tried to contain Onyekwe, but to no avail. He unleashed an arsenal of dunks and alley-oops.

     

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