Q&A with Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings

The Daily Pennsylvanian’s annual Penn Basketball Supplement is out today, and I encourage you to check it out, not because I’m a DP alum but because it’s a very thorough, insightful supplement. In fact, there are some genuine nuggets in the DP’s supplement, including Tony Hicks’s reasoning for changing his jersey number from ‘1’ to ’11’ this season – “It was kind of egotistical, and I just wanted to get away from that” – and the team’s reaction to being projected to finish seventh in the Ivy League – “We break huddles; we say: ‘Seven.’ We commit bad plays during practice on offense or defense; sometimes coaches will say ‘Seven.’”

So optimism abounds for Penn basketball in spite of last season’s 8-20 finish, but how’s the team looking up close and personal right now? I reached out to my successor as Daily Pennsylvanian senior sports editor, Steven Tydings, for an inside look at the Quakers.

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Harvard Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Sorry, rest of the Ivy League. Harvard’s still Harvard.

Laurent Rivard, Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey may be gone, but Harvard’s ranked No. 25 in the nation and appears to be locked in cruise control en route to a fourth straight NCAA appearance, even in a loaded Ivy League. But let’s start with the negatives. Where is the perimeter depth now? 2013-14 Ivy Player of the Year Wesley Saunders is back and so is Siyani Chambers, who we’ll get to below. Agunwa Okolie, two-year Mormon church mission hiatus-taker Corbin Miller and rookie Andre Chatfield will all be stepping up to provide that depth. The frontcourt boasts the return of shot-blocking phenom Kenyatta Smith as well as the very well-rounded Steve Moundou-Missi. If the Crimson can find a potent three-point shooting wing who can complement Saunders and Chambers, they’ll be just as good as last year. Even if they don’t, they’ll win the Ivy League anyway.

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Why Alex Rosenberg’s injury is good for Columbia’s future … and bad for his own

The Columbia Spectator reported earlier today that 2013-14 first-team All-Ivy forward Alex Rosenberg has withdrawn from school and will not compete on the men’s basketball team in 2014-15.

Rosenberg fractured his foot in practice on Oct. 24 and was expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, meaning he was likely to miss Columbia’s nonconference slate altogether. Instead, he chose to withdraw from the school because the Ivy League does not permit medical redshirts. Ivy athletes are tasked with using their four years of eligibility in their first four years as enrolled full-time students. Fifth-year waivers do exist for Ivy athletes, but they are rare since they require athletes who apply for the waiver to prove that a fifth year of eligibility is triggered by academic and career concerns rather than athletic endeavors.

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Columbia Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

With Alex Rosenberg out indefinitely with a foot fracture, Columbia’s Ivy outlook is very much in question.On the bright side, what isn’t in question is that Columbia boasts one of the most explosive and deepest backcourts in the league. Everything about Maodo Lo is bona fide, and there’s no reason he can’t build on his breakout performance last season, when he did a little bit of everything for the Lions. Coach Kyle Smith would be wise to stop trying to go big, though. Last season, he tried pairing Luke Petrasek and Cory Osetkowski together in the frontcourt to little avail before going back to a smaller lineup embracing the guard-friendly makeup of this roster. Rosenberg or no Rosenberg, guard play will determine Columbia’s fate in 2014-15.

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Princeton Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Princeton, as usual, is the conference wild card. No single star player. Several key components of last year’s CBI qualifying team gone, including T.J. Bray and Will Barrett. Few standout seniors.  And today we reported that Denton Koon is out indefinitely with a MCL injury.

And yet, Princeton enjoys significant depth and a reliable frontcourt with 2013-14 Ivy Rookie of the Year Spencer Weisz and Hans Brase coming back. This doesn’t seem to be a very athletic roster, and I’m not as high on Princeton as others, especially now that Koon is out. But let’s start with the positives first. Even though Barrett made 111 treys as a junior and senior, his long-range production won’t be missed too much because, as you’ll read below, there are plenty of young guns on this team who can make up for that kind of sharpshooting.

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Denton Koon suffers MCL injury, expected to return prior to Ivy play

Denton Koon suffered an MCL injury at practice Thursday.
Denton Koon suffered an MCL injury at practice Thursday.

A reputable source tells Ivy Hoops Online that Princeton senior forward Denton Koon suffered a MCL injury at practice on Thursday and is not expected to start the season. However, Koon is expected to be able to return prior to the start of conference play.

Koon played in just 18 games last year and was ruled out for the remainder of last season in February due to a knee injury. The knee that Koon injured at practice Thursday was not the same knee that was injured last season.

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The Top 10 Nonconference Matchups for Ivies This Season

Oddly, the main theme of last month’s Ivy preseason teleconference seemed to be the value of tough nonconference scheduling. Nearly every Ivy coach talked at length about how scheduling a challenging nonconference slate made teams better. We all know that strength of schedule becomes a major factor for teams in power conferences as Selection Sunday approaches, but that doesn’t apply to the 14-game tournament that is the Ivy League. Still, we’ll likely to learn a lot about our beloved Ancient Eight when they hit the road to take on some of the nation’s most powerful programs. At the very least, nonconference play can be exciting when we least expect it. Who expected Cornell to jump out to a 14-point lead at No. 8 Syracuse last November? Who expected No. 2 Michigan State to trail Columbia by seven in the second half at the Breslin Center and the game to swing for good on back-to-back phony shot clock countdowns?

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Brown Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

I’m bullish on the Bears.

Yes, All-Everything Sean McGonagill is gone, and so is his ball distribution, three-point shooting, offensive potency from anywhere on the court and, well, everything! But the Bears will be better than last year because they’ll be more well-rounded in 2014-15 from inside out, the single-most underrated team in the Ivy League.

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Dartmouth Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

It’s hard to remember that Dartmouth exists sometimes, so consider this roster preview a reminder that the Big Green are still around. But who are they this year exactly?

Coach Paul Cormier alluded to the fact that this is a more experienced team than he has helmed in the past, and yet there are just two seniors on the entire roster. The presence of seven juniors makes up for that, though, namely co-captain Alex Mitola, who vastly improved his assist to turnover ratio as a sophomore and established himself as one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the league. What’s most impressive is that Mitola kept improving in Ivy play even after 2012-13 All-Ivy second-teamer and fellow co-captain Gabas Maldunas tore his ACL shortly after Dartmouth entered its conference slate.  And of course, Maldunas himself can be quite the beast, averaging 11.2 points and 8.5 boards per contest before his injury, which Cormier said at the teleconference had been just cleared for contact.

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Penn Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Now or never season for Jerome Allen? Now or never season for Jerome Allen.

That being said, this is a very young roster as seven of Penn’s top 10 scorers from last season are gone, which means that Penn’s nonconference play may not be as telling as it was a year ago when it was clear very early on – like, the season opener – that the Quakers were in trouble. This roster needs time to gel, and it will have to gel before the program starts stringing together wins with any consistency. So it’ll be a while before we can properly evaluate what pieces Allen is working with here.

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