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Ivy League Notebook

March 13, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Jason Haslam

Penn takes their winning ways to the Big Dance

If you follow the Ivy League, you can’t ignore the Penn Quakers sheer dominance through the past 15 years. This past weekend the Quakers (22-5, 14-0) disposed of Columbia and Cornell, clinching the Ivy title, earning them a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and running their winning streak to 24 in Ivy play. The Quakers are one of three teams that are undefeated in conference play with Weber State and 2nd-ranked Kentucky having unblemished records as well. Coach Fran Dunphy has now guided five Quaker teams to undefeated seasons in Ivy competition, while capturing eight titles in his 14 yearlong tenure. Overall the Quakers have a 15-game winning streak and have collected victories on the road at Villanova and USC. Despite all this, they have yet to grab the attention of voters from the Associated Press, ESPN, and Hoopville Top 25 polls.

After beating Cornell last Saturday night, the Quakers celebrated with their fans and family as all converged onto the court to watch the victors cut down the net. Senior guard Andrew Toole hopped up onto the rim using as it as his own throne leading the crowd in chants. Ivy Champs!

“It feels tremendous, I’m so happy for our guys,” Dunphy said. “To do what we did last weekend was critical. We were in trouble a couple of times and somehow somebody made a big play.”

Unlike last year’s three-way tie for the crown and a one-game playoff win over Yale, the Quakers win/loss last night against Princeton, was moot in regards to the outcome of the league champion. Dunphy didn’t seem to mind the cushion they gave themselves.

“It is different, but it’s a good different and I’m grateful for that,” Dunphy said.

The wins actually hurt the Quakers RPI, dropping them down to 64, but that doesn’t matter now that they have nailed down the automatic bid in the field of 65. This “Selection Sunday, they know their name will be called, it’s just a matter of what neutral site they will be assigned and who they will matched up against. Most observers see them being a 12 or 13 seed, but that could change depending on how many upsets their are in conference tournament play. Nevertheless, the Quakers aren’t like most Ivy teams that depend on crisp ball movement and solid perimeter shooting. The Quakers strength is their one-two punch of power forwards Onyekwe and Koko Archibong. This opens up the Quakers outside shooting, led by junior Jeff Schiffner who as of last week was the top three-point shooter in the country.

Senior forward Ugonna Onyekwe Penn’s second leading scorer of all-time said, “We’re definelty taking one game at a time…We’re not looking to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Columbia shows Hill the exit sign

“If anything can go wrong this year, it just keeps going wrong. What can I say, it was a tough ride, but their are two things you can’t control: mother nature and traffic.”

Coach Armond Hill was talking in reference to the rush-hour traffic the Lions bus hit during their trek to Philadelphia against Penn last Friday night. The Lions arrived 15 minutes after the seven o’clock tip-off. The Lions were given 30 minutes to dress and warm-up for the game, as this season for Hill and his undertalented squad can’t end fast enough. However, now that it has, the school announced on Monday the dismissal of Hill, after leading them to their worst campaign in the program’s history, 2-25, including zero wins in Ivy play, the first time that has occurred since 1966 by Dartmouth. In his eight-year tenure Hill compiled a record of 72-141, including 33-79 in league play.

No players on the Lions roster managed to average more than nine points a game as they were the only team in the Division I to average under 50 points a game, with 49.6. They seemed to regress throughout the season and the 44-40 loss at Princeton marked their 18th straight defeat, a school-record. The Lions football team also failed to secure a league win, marking the first time that a school has lost all its league game in both sports the same year.

“It’s been a tough, tough season and it’s not any of their faults, I mean their giving me what they have, of course I’m asking for more. The only thing you can do is continue to encourage them and keep fighting, play with heart and play together, and if you continue to do that it allows you to stay in the games, and that’s all i was asking them to do,” Hill said.

Bears have their sights set on the NIT

Brown ended its season on a high note by beating Dartmouth 79-67 and Harvard 93-80 this past weekend to secure themselves second place and a possible bid in the National Invitational Tournament. The Ivy’s leading scorer, senior guard Earl Hunt scored his 2000th point in the win over Dartmouth, and became just the fourth player in league history to reach the plateau. Overall, Hunt has accumulated 2,030 points, with a chance to add to that if the Bears(17-11, 12-2) get a bid to the NIT. Last year, the Ivy League was represented by two teams, Princeton and Yale. The Bears 12 wins are the most from a team other than Penn or Princeton, since Columbia won 12 in 1968. Like the streaking Penn Quakers, the Bears have won 14 of their last 16 games.

Senior center Alai Nuualiitia set a school-record by starting all 109 games in his career as a Bear. He numbers on the year are impressive averaging 12.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and was second in the league in shooting at 61percent.

     

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