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Ivy League Notebook

January 28, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Owen Bochner

Going into this season, no one expected that Yale would struggle like it did last season. With a mature, healthy roster and the collective memory of both winning the league and falling back to mediocrity, the Elis, it seemed, were primed for a repeat of 2001-02, not last season. The team’s preseason NIT showing against Connecticut only helped confirm that expectation. Then the calendar turned to December and things have not been nearly the same. It began with an embarrassing 71-57 home loss to Fairfield on Dec. 7 and has not ended since. Yale has now lost eight consecutive games to Division I opponents, including its last two to travel partner Brown. With Penn and Princeton upcoming, the road gets even more daunting. And title contention now seems out of the question.

Meanwhile, with Harvard and Princeton returning from exams, this weekend marks the beginning of the league’s annual six-week run of “Ivy Weekends.” As the only conference to use the travel partner Friday/Saturday scheduling format, all eight teams will be in action every Friday night and every Saturday night until the end of the season on March 6. On tap this weekend: Columbia and Cornell visit Dartmouth and Harvard; while Penn and Princeton play Brown and Yale.

How They Stand

Brown and Cornell sit tied atop the league standings, having swept travel partners Yale and Columbia, respectively. Penn and Princeton have yet to begin conference play, while Dartmouth and Harvard split their series earlier this month. While still early, this weekend could be critical in figuring the final results of the season. As the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, Columbia and Yale are likely out of contention at 0-2 thus far.

Game of the week:

Brown vs. Penn; Sat., Jan. 31, 7:00 p.m. EST.

First meeting of the season between last year’s top two teams. The ex factor will be Brown junior guard Jason Forte, who is playing like a man with something to prove this season, arguing a very effective case as the league’s top point guard.

Player of the Week

Mike Martin, Brown

Martin scored a season-high 19 points – including 13 in the second half – to help Brown to its second win of the season against Yale. He had five 3-pointers on the game, including going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in his explosive second half. His efforts capped an impressive home performance by Brown, which swept Yale for the second straight year.

Rookie of the Week

Leon Pattman, Dartmouth

The freshman guard had yet another huge week, scoring back-to-back 29-point games last week in losses to Vermont and Hartford. Pattman scored the most combined points in consecutive game of any Dartmouth freshman ever in winning his second consecutive Rookie of the Week nod. It is the fourth time this season he has been so honored.

Brown Bears (6-9, 2-0 Ivy)

Unlike the game in New Haven a week earlier, there was little doubt that Brown would roll past Yale on Jan. 23. The Bears completed the season series sweep, 77-65, to move to a perfect 2-0 in league play. Jason Forte scored a game high 22 points with eight assists. Senior guard Mike Martin, senior forwards Pat Powers and Jaime Kilburn have all substantially improved their shooting since earlier this season, as the Bears have now won three straight heading into a home weekend against league favorites Penn and Princeton.

Columbia Lions (4-11, 0-2)

After leading Cornell by thirteen points at halftime in their own gym on Jan. 24, the Lions completely collapsed in the second half, allowing Cornell to cruise to a 66-53 win to sweep the season series between the New York State rivals. Sophomore forward Dragutin Kravic scored 10 points and added four rebounds in only 22 minutes while junior forward Matt Preston led the team with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Columbia out-rebounded Cornell, 42-29, but also committed eighteen turnovers in the loss. The Lions will attempt to end their conference losing streak at nineteen when they visit cellar dwelling Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.

Cornell Big Red (7-8, 2-0)

For the second consecutive season, Cornell opened the season with consecutive victories over travel partner Columbia. And like last season, the Red had to contend with a huge challenge at Levien Gymnasium. Last year, the Red blew a large halftime lead to barely pull away with a victory. This time, it was the Lions who held a lead at the half, but Columbia was unable to hold on, as the Red outscored Columbia, 44-18, in the second half to secure the 66-53 victory. Senior guard Ka’Ron Barnes had a game-high 18 points, and continues to lead the league in scoring with 20.4 ppg. The game came as a relief for Cornell, which had lost its five previous road games, including one on Jan. 20 at Bucknell which saw the Red shoot a dismal 29 percent on the game. More road tests await Cornell, which travels to Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.

Dartmouth Big Green (3-13, 1-1)

Leon Pattman has been named Rookie of the Week four times this season. Unfortunately for the Green, he is the team’s lone bright spot in a season characterized by continued struggles. After beating Harvard on Jan. 3, Dartmouth has lost its last six consecutive games, including a set of ten-point losses last week. The Green fell at Colgate (70-60), and in Hanover to Vermont (76-66) and Hartford (78-68). Pattman scored 29 in the latter two games to raise his season average to a team-leading 13.4 points per, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of production around him. In each of these losses, Dartmouth has been within reach throughout before allowing the opponent to go on a late run, making the losses even more painful. The good news for the Green though, is the return of sophomore guard Mike Lang, who returned against Vermont after missing five games due to a stress fracture. The Green plays host to Columbia and Cornell this weekend.

Harvard Crimson (2-13, 1-1)

The Crimson’s sixteen-day exam layoff will end on Jan. 30 when Cornell comes to town. This game will be an important one for Harvard on many levels, due in part to the status of injured center Brian Cusworth. The 7-0 sophomore has yet to play this season due to a stress fracture in his left foot, and having already missed over half the season, there is a possibility that he will now take the remainder of the year off and apply for a fifth year of eligibility. Though it is struggling, Harvard has won at least one game of every home Cornell-Columbia series since the 1992-93 season, a trend it will hope to continue.

Pennsylvania Quakers (7-6, 0-0)

Before Penn can get into its Ivy League season, it must complete its Philadelphia Big 5 season, which ended last week in disappointment. The Quakers fell to Temple on Jan. 21, 73-69, at home to finish 1-3 in Big 5 play. The team shot only 39 percent from the floor in the loss, despite four players scoring in double figures. Junior guard Tim Begley scored 22 points, while senior guard Jeff Schiffner returned to the radar screen with fourteen points and a career-high eight assists. Penn opens its Ivy season this weekend when it visits Yale and Brown. The Quakers will be putting their 23-game conference winning streak on the line.

Princeton Tigers (6-6, 0-0)

Princeton’s final warm-up before the start of conference play was an 86-48 romp over Division III Southern Connecticut Monday at Jadwin Gym. Sophomore center Mike Stephens scored a game-high 16 points starting in place of Judson Wallace, while junior guard Will Venable added thirteen. The game was never in doubt after the Tigers raced out to a 48-18 halftime lead. Princeton will open its conference season with visits to Brown and Yale this weekend, before returning home for seven of its next nine games.

Yale Bulldogs (5-10, 0-2)

Since Yale’s strong showing against Connecticut and in the Marist Classic early in the season, things have just not been the same. Eight consecutive losses later, the Bulldogs find themselves teetering on the brink of another lost season with Penn and Princeton coming to Lee Amphitheater this coming weekend. The problem for Yale has simply been turnovers – the Elis have committed nearly 50 more than their opponents, a statistic that was most glaring in the two losses to Brown.

     

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