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Ivy League Notebook

December 5, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Owen Bochner

The theme of this young season for the Ivy League has been a valiant (though usually unsuccessful) attempt to play with the big boys. One look at the early non-conference schedules of several Ancient Eight squads gives the impression that maybe these teams have eyes slightly bigger than their stomachs. Then again, the performance on the court justifies the high ambitions.

Start with Yale. No one expected the Elis to be anywhere in the same time-zone as in-state rival UConn in the Preseason NIT two weeks ago, least of all the then No. 1 Huskies. But the boys from New Haven had other plans, even taking a small lead into halftime before Connecticut woke up and won the game, 70-60. The Bulldogs continued their strong play, hammering Eastern Michigan and Coastal Carolina to win the Marist Classic the following weekend.

Cornell put on a similar performance in its home opener against Georgia Tech on November 23. For 30 minutes, it looked as if the Red was primed to pull off the upset, until Tech’s superior athleticism took over late in the second half. Of course, the Yellow Jackets moved on to bigger and better things, beating UConn and Texas Tech the following week for the Preseason NIT championship.

Brown and Penn also began auspiciously, with the Bears visiting Texas and the Quakers hosting Wisconsin. Like their Ivy pals Cornell and Yale, Brown and Penn lost. Unlike Cornell and Yale, though, these games were not exactly close. The then No. 11 Longhorns blew Brown away, 89-51, while No. 15 Wisconsin had no trouble with either the Palestra or the Quakers, winning the road contest, 64-53. But Penn rebounded. After slipping past local rival Drexel on November 24, the Quakers went 1-1 at the Coca-Cola Classic in East Lansing, falling to host Michigan State, 77-52, before beating up on Indiana State, 86-48, in the consolation game. Charlie Copp made a statement on the perimeter, hitting his fist six three-point attempts of the game. He bested his previous career high of eleven points with the quick eighteen to lead the Quakers over their Big East rival.

Player of the Week
Judson Wallace, Princeton

The Tigers’ junior has picked up right where he left off at the end of last year – as a dominating low post presence and a most prolific scorer. In Princeton’s wins over Colgate and Holy Cross, Wallace averaged 29.5 points per, shooting a red-hot 75 percent from the field. In the Tigers’ 74-63 victory over Colgate, Wallace posted a double-double with 11 rebounds, and then added nine more boards in Princeton’s 61-55 win against Holy Cross a week later.

Rookie of the Week
Sam Manhanga, Brown

Coming off the bench to open his collegiate career, Manhanga has proven that he is no slouch in the court time he does see, averaging a team-leading 12.8 points per game in only 20 minutes per game. He was one of only two Bears players in double digits in the season-opening loss to Texas (10 points), and set a career high of 20 points in Brown’s first win of the season in the Maine Invitational. He also added six rebounds as Brown beat Maine-Fort Kent, 95-73, in the opening round of the tournament.

Brown Bears (2-3)

It’s been a struggle thus far for Brown, which has dropped three of its first five games, winning only one against a Division I opponent. With the graduation of Earl Hunt and Alai Nuualiitia after last year, Brown has already felt the effects on offense, as points have been rather difficult to come by for the Bears. The team shot only 30 percent from the floor in its 89-51 loss to Texas, barely showing any improvement in that department four days later in the 69-53 loss at Rider. The Bears shot 33 percent to the Broncos’ 37 percent. Points started to come a little more easily once Brown returned home November 25 in a 63-57 victory over Wagner.

The Bears will look to continue their upswing when they host Rhode Island December 3 and travel to Ohio December 6 before breaking for exams.

Columbia Lions (1-2)

New coach Joe Jones’ rebuilding project got off the ground with a couple of losses to area opponents. The Lions’ second half surge in the season opener against Army fell short, as the Black Knights pulled out a 63-57 win in Jones’ debut. Columbia seemed to be on the verge of upsetting Manhattan in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on November 24, coming within two points of the lead early in the second half. However, the Lions shooters went cold in the second half, allowing Manhattan to pull out the 72-57 victory. Jones finally did pick up his first career victory December 2 against Sacred Heart, as junior Matt Preston hit five of six free throws in overtime to push the Lions over the host, 85-79.

Columbia’s travels continue on December 6 with a visit to local rival Hofstra, where Jones was once an assistant, before the Lions open their home schedule on December 8 against Lehigh.

Cornell Big Red (2-2)

Despite dropping its first two games of the season, the Red has shown that it will be a force to be reckoned with thus far. A diverse offensive attack has taken the pressure off of senior Ka’Ron Barnes, who was depended upon heavily as a scorer last season. After dropping its opener against Georgia Tech, Cornell battled back after trailing Colgate by as many as 10 with 12 minutes to go in the second to force overtime. However, the Raiders hit all eight of their free-throws in the extra period to claim the 84-77 win. Cornell had no trouble picking up its first win of the season against Army in a neutral site game in Rochester, N.Y., as 2003 Ivy Rookie of the Year Lenny Collins posted a career-high 18 points. The Red returned to Ithaca December 2 to demolish Division III Ithaca College, 69-37, in an intra-city battle to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. Freshman Graham Dow made his presence felt for the first time, scoring eight points and a career-high nine rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.

Cornell will travel to Vermont and New Hampshire on December 5 and 7, respectively, for a couple of serious road challenges before breaking for exams.

Dartmouth Big Green (0-4)

Dartmouth is 0-4 but could very easily be 4-0 at this early point in the season. All four losses have been within four points, and three of the losses were decided with less than eight seconds remaining the game. Accordingly, the Green has played very well so far. Four players have posted career highs in various categories so far, including junior center David Gardner, sophomore forward Jason Meyer, sophomore forward Calvin Arnold, and Freshman guard Leon Pattman.

The Green will host Division III squad Tufts in its home opener December 4 before breaking 10 days for exams. Dartmouth returns to action in a New Hampshire state tripleheader in Manchester on December 14 against the University of New Hampshire.

Harvard Crimson (0-4)

The Crimson has had a tough ride thus far in the season, and is off to its worst start in over a decade. Much of this is due to the inexperience factor – only Jason Norman had ever started a college game before this season – and Harvard’s greenness is showing. The Crimson was totally outclasses in losses to Fairfield, Holy Cross, New Hampshire, and Maine. Of course, being without 7-0 center Brian Cusworth for all four of those contests has not helped.

Harvard will take a brief respite from New England competition on December 6 with it visits Lehigh, before returning to the region to face Boston University on December 9.

Pennsylvania Quakers (2-2)

Head coach Fran Dunphy went out of his way when scheduling the Quakers’ 2003-04 season so as to ensure an adequate non-conference challenge. Mission accomplished. The Quakers got off to a bumpy start, but have played some very high quality opponents over their first four games. No. 14 Wisconsin came into the Palestra in Penn’s opener and emerged with an 11-point win. After bouncing back three days later with a 79-73 victory over local rival Drexel, Penn turned its attention to the Coca Cola Classic and a game against No. 8 Michigan State. Not surprisingly, the Spartans had no trouble dispatching the Quakers, 77-52. The next day, Penn evened its record in the consolation game with an 86-48 thrashing of a decimated Indiana State team in a match up that saw Charlie Copp pour in eighteen points in the game’s first eight minutes.

Do things get easier for the Quakers now? Not exactly. On December 6, the Quakers will welcome Big 5 rival No. 11 St. Joseph’s to the Palestra, the third top-15 squad Penn will play in the season’s opening weeks. Penn completes this stretch at home on December 9 against another Big 5 rival, Villanova.

Princeton Tigers (3-0)

Princeton has feasted early on some less than stellar competition, including the first back-to-back home games to start a season since 1989-90. In the team’s wins over Colgate, Holy Cross, and UMBC, junior center Judson Wallace has been a force to be reckoned with. Named Ivy League Player of the Week for his efforts, Wallace has averaged well over 25 points per game thus far.

The Tigers’ schedule will become increasingly difficult, as it heads west to participate in the McCaffrey Classic at Fresno State December 5 and 6. Princeton is slated to tip off against California-Irvine and the host, before continuing its road swing the week after with visits to Rutgers and No. 7 Duke.

Yale Bulldogs (3-2)

The Bulldogs have played by far the Ivy League’s toughest schedule so far and have come through it quite admirably. After putting a hell of a scare into then No. 1 Connecticut in the Preseason NIT, Yale came back to win the Marist Classic, then bounce Patriot League rival Bucknell in the span of five days. The Bulldogs returned to earth with a 86-61 “home” loss to No. 19 Wake Forest in a game played in Bridgeport, Conn. Junior guard Edwin Draughan, named the MVP of the Marist tournament, is shooting a blistering 61 percent from the floor and is second on the team with 14 points per game. Classmate Dominick Martin leads the team with 15.6 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Yale hosts Sacred Heart and Fairfield on December 7 and 11 respectively before visiting St. Peters in its final game before the exam break.

     

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