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Ivy League Notebook

March 1, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Ivy League Notebook

by Owen Bochner

Things are coming down to the wire in the Ivy League with Princeton firmly in the drivers’ seat. The Tigers extended their winning streak to four with last weekend’s sweep of Brown and Yale, and clinched their 51st consecutive winning conference season in the process. It is by far the longest such streak in the country – no other school has done it for even half as long.

Meanwhile, Brown’s Jason Forte leads the league in both points and assists per conference game. Should he continue this pace for the remainder of the season, he will become the first Ivy League player to lead the conference in both categories ever. Averaging 23.2 points in conference matchups, he is also on pace to post the highest-scoring season since Dartmouth’s Jim Barton averaged 23.9 in 1987-88.

One of Barton’s coaches during his career with the Big Green was Dave Faucher. Faucher, who was an assistant coach at Dartmouth before taking over the head coaching job in 1991, announced last week that he would resign at the end of the season. The Green is in the midst of a fourteen-game losing streak, and has only one conference victory this season. Faucher has 136 career wins, good for third on the Green’s all-time list.

How They Stand

At 8-1, Princeton has begun to open up a lead at the top of the Ivy League pack. The Tigers’ only conference loss came at home to Penn on Feb. 10. Despite a couple of close calls against Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia, Princeton is continuing to roll. Brown is a game and a half back at 7-3, followed by Penn and Cornell, which are both still mathematically alive.

Game of the Week

Cornell at Penn, Fri., Feb. 27, 7:00 p.m. EST. The rematch between these two teams in Philadelphia can have serious implications in the determination of a possible NIT bid. When the teams met two weeks ago in Ithaca, Penn blew away an overwhelmed and sloppy Big Red, 79-52.

Player of the Week

Judson Wallace, Princeton

The junior center’s resurgence continued, as he posted his third and fourth straight 20-point games this past weekend. For the past four games, he is averaging 23.5 points and 7.3 rebounds, helping to lead the Tigers to a four-game winning streak and sole possession of first place.

Rookie of the Week

Mark Zoller, Penn

The Quaker freshman averaged 18.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over the weekend as Penn split against Yale and Brown. Zoller scored 24 points – a career high – Friday night in the Quakers’ loss to Brown, then scored eight of his twelve in the final seven minutes against Yale. Zoller follows classmate Ibrahim Jaaber as rookie of the week, picking up the honor for the second time this season.

Brown Bears (11-12, 7-3 Ivy)

The Bears completed the season sweep of Penn last Friday, becoming the first Brown team to sweep Penn since 1991. Brown saw its four-game winning streak snapped Saturday night at the hands of Princeton, and subsequently sits in second place in the conference, a game and a half behind the Tigers. Junior Jason Forte has taken over the league lead in scoring and now sits in fifteenth place on the Bears’ all-time scoring list with 1,050 points. Brown returns home for the final time this season, playing host to cellar-dwelling Dartmouth and Harvard.

Columbia Lions (8-15, 4-6)

With its home wins over Harvard and Dartmouth, Columbia completed season sweeps of two different Ivy League opponents since 1999-00. It was also the first time the Lions swept a home weekend in three years. The team’s resurgence under first-year head coach Joe Jones has been nothing less than remarkable. Though not in the title hunt, Columbia will hope to continue its return to respectability this weekend when it visits Princeton and Penn.

Cornell Big Red (11-12, 6-4)

After the team completed a season sweep of Dartmouth Friday night, the Red’s dying title hopes took another severe hit Saturday night with a very tight home loss to Harvard. Now 6-4 on the season, Cornell is three games behind Princeton in the loss column with only four games left to play. That makes this weekend absolutely crucial if the Red has any hopes of making a last-ditch title run. Cornell will visit Penn and Princeton, in a rematch of the series in Ithaca of two weeks ago. Senior Ka’Ron Barnes was named to the NABC All-District second-team, the first Cornellian since John Bajusz to be so honored.

Dartmouth Big Green (3-21, 1-9)

A lost season for the Green fell to even greater depths this past weekend, as Dartmouth extended its losing streak to fourteen games. With star freshman Leon Pattman out of the lineup against Cornell Friday night, the Green looked hopeless, shooting a mere 26 percent from the floor on the game. Dartmouth will complete its longest road trip of the season this weekend, visiting Brown and Yale before returning home for head coach Dave Faucher’s final games.

Harvard Crimson (4-19, 3-7)

The Crimson continued to surprise this past weekend, pulling off a road upset against Cornell, one week after beating Yale. Harvard has now won two of its last three games. Sophomore Matt Stehle continued to frustrate Cornell on Saturday night, scoring fifteen points, while junior David Giovacchini added fourteen. Harvard visits Yale and Brown this weekend, hoping for the chance to play spoiler in the Bears’ bid for a second consecutive NIT nod.

Pennsylvania Quakers (13-9, 6-3)

Penn saw itself swept by Brown for the first time since the 1990-91 season, a very serious blow to the team’s chances of defending its Ivy League title. Freshman Mark Zoller and senior Adam Chubb combined to give the Bears fits in the low post Friday night, combining for 45 points. Meanwhile, Jeff Schiffner became the 31st player to score 1,000 career points at Penn, 615 of which have come from three-pointers. He is also second all-time in three-point field goals. The Quakers host their final Ivy League home series this weekend, welcoming Cornell and Columbia to the Palestra.

Princeton Tigers (15-7, 8-1)

As the season goes on, the Tigers seem to only get stronger and stronger. This past weekend, they proved that trend again, coming from behind to beat both Yale and Brown at home. Junior Judson Wallace had his third and fourth straight 20-point games, while senior Andre Logan and junior Will Veneble were instrumental in sparking Princeton’s comeback efforts both nights. Princeton now has its destiny solely within its control. Regardless of what other teams in the league do, should Princeton win its next four games, it will clinch the Ivy League title. The Tigers play host to Columbia and Cornell this weekend, before hitting the road to visit Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend.

Yale Bulldogs (9-14, 4-6)

Junior center Dominick Martin is fifteenth in the country in field goal percentage, but his hot shooting was not enough for Yale this past weekend, as the Elis fell to Princeton and Penn. With these losses, Yale is mathematically eliminated from contention for the league title. Head coach James Jones’ first recruiting class of Scott Gaffield, Matt Minoff, Justin Simon, Paul Vitelli, and Basil Williams will play its final home games this weekend, as Harvard and Dartmouth visit New Haven.

     

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