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Ivy League 2002-03 Season Recap

July 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Ivy League 2002-03 Season Recap

by Phil Kasiecki

The Ivy League was fresh off a big season last year, and with much of the league’s talent returning, expectations were sky high this season. Three teams saw postseason play in 2001-02 as the conference finished 13th in the RPI ratings, and it would not have surprised anyone if three teams went again this season.

But what resulted didn’t quite go with the preseason expectations. Brown got off to a fast start in league play, but then it looked like it might come down to Pennsylvania and Princeton once again. Brown put that to rest by knocking off Princeton for the second time during the next-to-last weekend of the season, marking the first time Brown ever swept Princeton. Pennsylvania swept through the league, while Brown finally got the results it was looking for with its talent and experience. Much was expected of Yale, but the Bulldogs never had any consistency and fell back to fourth place with an 8-6 league record.

In the second division, Harvard played well in non-league games, before getting off to a slow start in league play and never recovering. Cornell made some strides forward, as did Dartmouth, and both should continue to make inroads in future seasons. Columbia had a disastrous season, winning just two games and becoming the first school to not win an Ivy League game in both football and men’s basketball in the same year.

In terms of individual talents, the league wasn’t appreciably more guard- or forward-oriented. The Ivy League continues to have teams that play a style revolving around good ball movement, passing, getting and making open shots, and more team-oriented basketball as opposed to 1-on-1. This isn’t likely to change anytime soon, even as players in the league get quicker, more athletic and stronger with time, much like throughout college basketball.

Without further adieu, here is a look at teams in postseason play.

NCAA Tournament
Pennsylvania – Oklahoma State (L 77-63)

Brown – at Virginia (L 89-73)

And now, here are our postseason league awards.

First Team All-Ivy
Jason Forte, So. G, Brown
Earl Hunt, Sr. G-F, Brown
Alai Nuualiitia, Sr. F, Brown
Ugonna Onyekwe, Sr. F, Pennsylvania
Jeff Schiffner, Jr. G, Pennsylvania

Player of the Year

Earl Hunt, Brown

After an injury slowed him early, Hunt was on fire once he was able to recover. He would lead the Ivy League in scoring en route to becoming Brown’s all-time career scoring leader, finishing fourth in the Ivy League in that category, and surpassing 2,000 career points. He was again the go-to guy for the Bears and led them to their second-place finish and NIT bid.

Freshman of the Year

Lenny Collins, Cornell

Collins was an easy choice after claiming Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors seven times during the season. He led all Ivy freshmen in scoring and rebounding, and will be a key component of the Big Red’s attempts at climbing the conference ladder the next few years.

Defensive Player of the Year

Jeff Schiffner, Junior, Pennsylvania

Schiffner certainly gets attention because he’s a deadly three-point shooter, but the junior guard also shows his mettle at the defensive end. He uses his size well and is good both on and off the ball, and often had the task of guarding the opposing team’s top offensive player.

Coach of the Year

Fran Dunphy, Pennsylvania

There was no clear winner in this category, but give Dunphy credit for what he did with this team. Early on, the Quakers did not play well, and looked like they might disappoint. But he was able to get the team back on track as they finished the non-conference schedule on a strong note, then rolled through the Ivy League undefeated.

Brown Bears (17-12, 12-2)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 2/3
Key players departing:
Earl Hunt (graduating)
Alai Nuualiitia (graduating)

Key players returning:
Jason Forte (So. G)
Patrick Powers (Jr. F)
Jamie Kilburn (Jr. F)
Luke Ruscoe (Fr. F)
Harold Bailey (Jr. G)
G.J. King (So. C)

Key injuries: Guard Mike Martin missed most of Ivy League play after tearing his ACL

Leading scorer: Earl Hunt (19.1 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Alai Nuualiitia (5.3 rpg)
Assists leader: Jason Forte (5.3 apg)

Notes: The Bears appeared headed for another disappointing season when they opened up 1-7, but they got their act together after final exams, led by Earl Hunt. Hunt was able to heal from an early injury, then played like a man possessed as he became the school’s all-time leading scorer and just the fourth player in Ivy League history to top 2,000 career points. Nuualiitia was once again a solid complement, and Forte improved markedly, especially later in the season. Kilburn, a former starter, and Penn transfer Bailey were solid reserves, and Ruscoe showed signs of being a solid player down the road.

Columbia Lions (2-25, 0-14)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 2/3
Key players departing:
Marco McCottry (graduating)
Chris Wiedemann (graduating)
Grant Clemons (left school)

Key players returning:
Jeremiah Boswell (So. G)
Tito Hill (So. G)
Allan MacQuarrie (So. G)
Dragutin Kravic (Fr. F)
Maurice Murphy (Jr. G)
Dalen Cuff (Fr. G)
Matt Land (So. F)

Leading scorer: Marco McCottry (9.0 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Marco McCottry (7.6 rpg)
Assists leader: Maurice Murphy (1.9 apg)

Notes: After a terrible season where the young Lions struggled mightily, Armond Hill was fired as head coach. Joseph Jones, recently a Villanova assistant, was hired to replace Hill, and should prove to be a nice hire for the school. The Lions’ problems began on the offensive end, as they were the worst offensive team in Division I in averaging under 50 points per game and shooting 37.3% from the field. McCottry was one of the few bright spots, though Wiedemann was a defensive enforcer and would have led the league by far in blocked shots if he was eligible (he fell one game short).

Cornell Big Red (9-18, 4-10)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 0/5
Key players departing:
Jacques Vigneault (graduating)

Key players returning:
Ka’Ron Barnes (Jr. G)
Eric Taylor (So. F-C)
Cody Toppert (So. G)
Lenny Collins (Fr. F)
Grant Harrell (So. F)
David Lisle (Fr. G)
Gabe Stephenson (So. F-C)

Leading scorer: Ka’Ron Barnes (14.0 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Eric Taylor (7.0 rpg)
Assists leader: Ka’Ron Barnes (4.0 apg)

Notes: Although their record doesn’t look good, the Big Red had their moments this season. They had a three-game winning streak at one point, but two of those wins were against Columbia. But the Big Red had a young team, as Vigneault was the only senior, and aside from Barnes, the key contributors were all freshmen and sophomores. Barnes had a solid season at the point, while Taylor was solid up front. Toppert added good support, and Collins was the top rookie in the league. The Big Red doesn’t look like future Ivy League champions just yet, but they should only get better.

Dartmouth Big Green (8-19, 4-10)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 2/3
Key players departing:
Charles Harris (graduating)
Greg Friel (graduating)

Key players returning:
Mike McLaren (So. G-F)
Steve Callahan (So. G)
David Gardner (So. C)
Michael Lang (Fr. G)
Scott Klingbeil (Jr. C)
Calvin Arnold (Fr. F)

Leading scorer: Charles Harris (12.2 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Charles Harris (4.7 rpg)
Assists leader: Steve Callahan (2.9 apg)

Notes: The Big Green won all of their games with four two-game winning streaks. But despite their size, they had the worst rebounding margin in the league by far. Harris had a good year as the team’s top player, while Callahan capably ran the show and McLaren was a good sniper from long range. Gardner and Klingbeil didn’t give them the presence at center they needed, a prime reason for the rebounding disparity. There was speculation that head coach Dave Faucher might not be back next season, but he will return for his 13th season.

Harvard Crimson (12-15, 4-10)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 4/1

Key players departing:
Elliott Prasse-Freeman (graduating)
Sam Winter (graduating)
Brady Merchant (graduating)
Brian Sigafoos (graduating)

Key players returning:
Jason Norman (So. G)
Brian Cusworth (Fr. C)
Kevin Rogus (So. G)
Michael Beal (Fr. G)
Graham Beatty (So. F)
Matt Stehle (Fr. F)

Leading scorer: Brady Merchant (15.4 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Sam Winter (8.1 rpg)
Assists leader: Elliott Prasse-Freeman (7.7 apg)

Notes: The Crimson never recovered from four straight road losses early in the league schedule. Losing top player Patrick Harvey due to academics didn’t help matters, as they had a senior starting five that did well together, while the reserves were solid in their roles. Prasse-Freeman closed out a solid career as the Ivy League’s all-time assist leader, while Winter led the league in rebounding to close out a career of constant improvement. Merchant was the team’s go-to guy, and Sigafoos was good, though foul-prone, in the middle. The underclassmen provided some hope for the future, especially Norman, a solid defender who got more minutes by starting once Harvey was gone. Cusworth had his moments, Beatty was serviceable in the post, Beal is the team’s quickest player and had some good moments in limited minutes, Rogus tailed off shooting the ball after a good start, and Stehle showed signs of being a contributor down the road.

Pennsylvania Quakers (22-6, 14-0)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 3/2
Key players departing:
Ugonna Onyekwe (graduating)
Koko Archibong (graduating)
Andrew Toole (graduating)
David Klatsky (graduating)

Key players returning:
Jeff Schiffner (Jr. G)
Tim Begley (So. G-F)
Adam Chubb (Jr. C)
Jan Fikiel (So. F-C)
Charlie Copp (Jr. G)

Leading scorer: Ugonna Onyekwe (16.5 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Ugonna Onyekwe (6.4 rpg)
Assists leader: Andrew Toole (2.9 apg)

Notes: Much was expected of the Quakers entering the season, and at first it looked like they may have been all hype. But starting with a blowout of Temple at the Big 5 Classic, the Quakers got on a roll and swept right through the Ivy League to win another title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Onyekwe had another good year, but he never dominated or took over games. Archibong didn’t have the consistency of his junior season, while Schiffner and Begley were solid perimeter threats and Toole capably ran the show with help from Klatsky. Chubb and Fikiel were capable reserves up front. As much as the Quakers made headlines with their offense, they led the Ivy League in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense and had the top rebounding margin in the league.

Princeton Tigers (16-11, 10-4)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 2/3
Key players departing:
Ray Robbins (graduating)
Kyle Wente (graduating)

Key players returning:
Judson Wallace (So. F-C)
Will Venable (So. G)
Ed Persia (Jr. G)
Andre Logan (Jr. F)
Konrad Wysocki (Jr. F)

Key injuries: Andre Logan (knee problems limited him to three games)

Leading scorer: Judson Wallace (10.9 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Judson Wallace (5.6 rpg)
Assists leader: Kyle Wente (3.5 apg)

Notes: The Tigers were once again in the title hunt until the next-to-last weekend of the season, though they started to slump shortly after leading scorer Spencer Gloger was declared academically ineligible. They shot the ball better than any other team in the league, but the trademark defense wasn’t there as only Brown allowed opponents to shoot a higher percentage from the field. The Tigers also didn’t shoot from long range as well as they are capable of, finishing sixth in three-point shooting at just under 36%. Wallace had a nice sophomore season and has a good future, as does Venable, though Venable looks like he could do more. Wente and Persia capably ran the show, while Robins closed his career as one of four double-figure scorers. Having Andre Logan for just three games before knee problems resurfaced (he tore his ACL in 2001-02) didn’t help matters.

Yale Bulldogs (14-13, 8-6)

Number of starters leaving/staying: 3/2
Key players departing:
Chris Leanza (graduating)
T.J. McHugh (graduating)
Ime Archibong (graduating)

Key players returning:
Edwin Draughan (So. G-F)
Matt Minoff (Jr. F)
Alex Gamboa (So. G)
Paul Vitelli (Jr. F)
Mark Lovett (So. F)
Scott Gaffield (Jr. G-F)
Justin Simon (Jr. C)

Key injuries: Josh Hill played just five games before a hernia ended his season

Leading scorer: Edwin Draughan (11.4 ppg)
Leading rebounder: Matt Minoff (6.2 rpg)
Assists leader: Matt Minoff (2.7 apg)

Notes: The Bulldogs were a streaky team all season long, but really hit the skids after breaking for exams with a 5-2 record after five straight wins. Vitelli wasn’t the force on the glass he was as a sophomore, while Gamboa had a sophomore slump. But losing Josh Hill in the season’s fifth game also hurt, as they lost a guy who wasn’t afraid to mix it up inside. Leanza and McHugh finished their careers on good notes, and Draughan had another good season while still looking like he could be better. Minoff was the team’s do-everything player, ranking in the top ten in the league in four different statistical categories.


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