Friday , Nov , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

College Basketball Preview – Ivy League

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) –
OUTLOOK: Although this is a new season do not expect much to change at the top
of the Ivy League standings. Penn and Princeton are still the big time schools
in this league, while the rest of the schools will be looking up at the two
powerhouse programs. The battle between Princeton and Penn continues to grow
into a classic rivalry but up to this point the battle has been won by Penn.
The Tigers are a better team this season, but the Quakers still seem like the
team to beat in 2006-07. Penn might have lost long time head coach Fran
Dunphy, but former Brown head coach Glen Miller is more then capable of
leading this Quaker squad. Fortunately for Miller, the Quakers return the
majority of their talent, including the league’s best player Ibrahim Jaaber.
While the Quakers look to be the odds on favorite to claim the Ivy League
title again, the Tigers will do everything in their power to dethrone the
juggernaut. Princeton does lose sharp-shooting Scott Greenman, but the team
does return the majority of its nucleus from a year ago and should give Penn a
run for its money this season. As mentioned before Penn and Princeton are at
the top by themselves, but if there is a team that can play with the two Ivy
League powerhouses it is the Big Red of Cornell. The Big Red lost some key
players, but the team does return Rookie of the Year Adam Gore. Along with
Gore the Big Red have a solid group of incoming freshmen that can instantly
make Cornell a dangerous team. Next in line are the Yale Bulldogs, who were
the only other team other than Penn to finish the season with an overall
winning record (15-14). Unfortunately, the team posted just a 7-7 ledger
inside conference action and although they lost their best player, the
Bulldogs still have a strong group of talented players that could surprise
some people this year. Another team that will finish in the middle of the
league are the Brown Bears who bring in former Princeton forward Craig
Robinson to fill the coaching void left by Miller’s departure. Brown has
plenty of talent but for the Bears to be considered a real threat, the team
will have to play with more consistency this season. Filling out the rest of
the conference will be Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth. All three teams are
coming off terrible seasons and should once again be circling the bottom of
the standings trying to avoid finishing the year in last place.


PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: 1. Penn, 2. Princeton, 3. Cornell, 4. Yale, 5.
Brown, 6. Columbia, 7. Harvard, 8. Dartmouth.


PENN – The Quakers are back to repeat as Ivy League champions and with the
talent on this roster it is more than likely to happen. Jaaber, who is the
favorite to earn Player of the Year accolades once again, is simply the best
player in this league, hands down. Jaaber does it all for the Quakers and is
coming off a season in which he averaged 18.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 3.3 spg. The
6-2 guard also shot an outstanding 52.5 percent from the field and also
connected on 38.4 percent of his shots from long range. The loss of guard
David Whitehurst will surely hurt, but look for junior guard Brian Grandieri
to join Jaaber in the backcourt. In limited action last season, Grandieri
posted 6.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg. As for the frontcourt, the Quakers have a
tenacious duo in Mark Zoller and Steve Danley. Zoller is easily one of the top
forwards in the league and should once again be a dominant force inside for
the Quakers. As for Danley, he led the team last year with 25 blocks and comes
into this season as one of the best defensive forwards in the league. There
are not many holes on this Penn roster which is why if everything goes well
the Quakers will be Ivy League champs again.

PRINCETON – The Tigers have to be tired of all the success Penn is having at
their expense, but if the team wants to prove they can play with the big bad
Penn Quakers then they have to beat them. The Tigers have a terrific offense
which will be led by Noah Savage. Savage scored 10.0 ppg last season for the
Tigers, and while it was solid season for the sophomore, the guard did
struggle with inconsistency at points during the year. Savage should be much
better this season, but he must continue to improve offensively. Seniors
Justin Conway and Luke Owings give the Tigers much needed experience and both
players can score from anywhere on the floor. Both Conway and Owing shot over
48 percent from the field last season and along with Savage these three
players could be the best trio in the Ivy League. While Owings, Conway and
Savage are the leaders of this stacked Princeton team, the season for the
Tigers might rest on the shoulders of a freshman. Guard Marcus Schroeder is
apparently starting at point guard for the Tigers this season, which might be
a lot of pressure for a freshman to handle. While it is obvious the Tigers
have enough weapons on offense, the big question is, can the team play sound
defense? Last year the Tigers struggled defensively and if those struggles
continue into this campaign then Princeton can forget about dethroning Penn.

CORNELL – The Big Red come into this season with a relatively young group of
players, but this roster is filled with enough talent to propel the Big Red to
the top of the league standings. Gore will be relied on heavily this season
and the guard should definitely be up to the task. Gore is a pure scorer, who
will look to distribute the ball a little more this season. Joining Gore in
the backcourt is where it gets tricky for the Big Red. Cornell brought in
three freshmen guards, all of whom can step in and play when the season
starts. As of right now, it looks like Louis Dale will find himself in the
starting lineup. The 5-11 guard is a natural floor general with an impressive
shooter’s touch. Dale should be a nice complement to Gore in the backcourt.
While the backcourt is relatively young, the frontcourt is where the Big Red
have the most experience thanks to forwards Jason Hartford and Andrew Naeve.
Hartford is a premier inside offensive performer, while Naeve is more known
for his ability to crash the boards and play shutdown defense. Incoming
freshmen Pete Reynolds and Jon Jaques could also see some instant playing time
for the Big Red.

YALE – The Bulldogs could possess one of the deepest teams in the league this
season and it all starts with guard Eric Flato. The junior is coming off a
season in which he scored 11.3 ppg. Flato is a tremendous offensive guard,
with a pure shooter’s touch. He is extremely dangerous from long range, but
can also beat his man to the inside. While the junior guard is the leader on
the Bulldogs, the team’s success this season will rest on the play of the
frontcourt. Yale has plenty of talent and depth in its frontcourt as well, and
the main fixture on the inside is Sam Kaplan. Kaplan is a dangerous scoring
threat inside the paint and although the senior is a little weak on the glass,
he is still one of the better forwards in the conference. Kaplan will receive
plenty of help from sophomore Ross Morin and 6-10 junior Matt Kyle. Kyle
should be able to collect rebounds for the Bulldogs and give the team a solid
presence in the lane, while Morin will be another scoring threat on the
inside, giving Yale two dominant offensive forces down low.

BROWN – The entire squad from last season is back this year for Brown and new
head coach Craig Robinson should certainly be happy. The Bears will look for
offense from star swingman Keenan Jeppesen. Jeppesen was a dangerous player
inside league action last season, as the guard averaged 16.1 ppg against
league opponents. Fellow guard Damon Huffman could be a nice complement to
Jeppesen, but first and foremost the guard must improve on his consistency.
Marcus Baker will look to take over the duties at the point guard position.
Baker has a nice little scoring touch, but his main objective will be to get
the ball into the hands of either Huffman or Jeppesen. While the backcourt is
filled with depth and experience, the same cannot be said about the
frontcourt. Sure the team return forwards Matt Friske and Mark McDonald, but
neither player was very effective last season, at least not consistently.
Friske showed some signs of life down the stretch, but the big question is can
he keep with it throughout the season. Another player who showed spurts here
and there during the season was Chris Skrelja. The 6-5 sophomore could be one
of the top players on this roster, but he has to continue to improve at both
ends of the floor.

COLUMBIA – The Lions were probably the youngest team last season, and
throughout most of the year Columbia was starting sophomores. While it might
have hurt its chances last year, the experience for the players will surely
help this season. The Lions could have the best frontcourt in the league,
thanks to the presence of Ben Nwachukwu and John Baumann. Baumann and
Nwachukwu are both solid interior players with the ability to score points in
the paint. The two juniors also attack the glass with authority and play
extremely well defensively. The backcourt is not as solid as the frontcourt
for the Lions. K.J. Matsui is a dangerous long range threat that can basically
hit a shot from anywhere on the court. Last season the swingman netted 41.4
percent of his shots from behind the arc. Brett Loscalzo and Kashif Sweet will
both battle it out for the point guard position. Loscalzo is a better shooter,
but Sweet has much better ball-handling skills and is better at penetrating
the lane. Regardless who starts the season at point guard, both players had
trouble with turnovers last season, something both Sweet and Loscalzo must cut
down on this year.

HARVARD – The Crimson come into the new season with a strange predicament they
must face at some point during the season. Harvard’s center Brian Cusworth is
only eligible for one more term, but due to the strange schedule Harvard goes
by, the big man will miss most of the second half of the season, which will be
a huge blow for Harvard. Once the team losses Cusworth, the Crimson will have
to look for Kenyon Churchwell and Evan Harris to fill the void. Both players
are 6-8, but neither of them possess the experience that will be lost with
Cusworth. The backcourt is in much better condition thanks to the return of
Jim Goffredo, who averaged 14.9 ppg last season. Goffredo is a pure scorer
that will shot from anywhere on the court. Drew Housman will likely take care
of the point guard duties once again. Housman is a fine floor general, but
head coach Frank Sullivan is really excited about new freshman Jeremy Lin. Lin
not only has a natural ability at distributing the ball, but the freshman is
also a very dangerous shooter from long range.

DARTMOUTH – Dartmouth has some talented players on its roster, but with that
said it should still be a long season for the Big Green. Leon Pattman is the
team’s best option offensively. The guard is a solid shooter that knows how to
score. Last year he scored 10.9 ppg, but with a little more help this season
he could be one of the top scorers in the league. Michael Giovacchini is also
a dangerous sharp shooter and now that the junior will be playing the shooting
guard position, he is capable of taking a lot more shots. Running the team on
the floor will most likely be Marlon Sanders. Sanders is a natural floor
general who distributes the ball extremely well. Sanders is also an impressive
defensively player who plays with a lot of tenacity and grit. The frontcourt
will be manned by Kurt Graeber and Brian McMillian. Graeber is a juco transfer
that can help the Big Green defensively and on the glass. As for McMillian, he
gives Dartmouth a legitimate scoring threat on the inside.