Season Preview: Princeton Tigers

Princeton”s had a slow start to the season, but with Harvard losing its captains to the academic scandal, the Tigers still may be the league favorites.

(In the interest of completing our Season Preview series, please forgive the serious tardiness of this final entry…)

In 2011-12: 20-12, 10-4, 3rd place

A Look Back: Princeton had an up and down non-conference slate in “11-“12, falling to the likes of Morehead State, Elon, and Siena while knocking off teams like Buffalo, Rutgers, and Florida State–nipping the Seminoles in a 3OT instant classic in which Ian Hummer had a monster 25 points and 15 rebounds. By the time the Ivy season rolled around, it seemed as if Princeton was coming into form.

But the Tigers dropped three of their first five conference games (all of which were on the road): at Cornell, at Penn, and at Yale, to quickly fall out of the title race. But Hummer and Co. really got rolling over the second half of the conference season, dealing Harvard its first loss at Jadwin in February and reeling off a sweep of Columbia and Cornell at home to move to 6-3 and set up a season-saving opportunity at Lavietes. It was not to be though, as Harvard overcame a ten-point deficit to even the season series at one. Effectively eliminated, the Tigers played their best ball of the season down the stretch, winning their last four, including a convincing victory over archrival Penn to deny them a piece of the Ivy crown. Hummer recorded a double-double with 18 and 10 and the Tigers earned a berth in the CBI. Princeton hung 95 on Evansville in Round 1 behind a career-high 31 from Doug Davis on sizzling 9-11 (5-6 from three) shooting. Princeton”s season, though, ended in the Tigers” next game at Pittsburgh.

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Season Preview: Columbia Lions

Columbia, led by the Madman of Morningside Heights, will try to prove that it is a contender and not a pretender this year.

 

In 2011-12: 15-15, 4-10, 6th place

A Look Back: Last season, Columbia experienced one of the great examples of Bill Simmons” Ewing Theory in action when Noruwa Agho went down with a gruesome injury in the home opener of the campaign. Agho had been the Lions” leading scorer and all of the team”s offense flowed through the senior guard. In his absence, Columbia was forced to shake things up, work the inside-out game more, and put the rock in Brian Barbour”s hands more often. The result was magical. After falling to 0-4, Columbia ripped off 11 of 12 victories, and looked like a much more balanced, dynamic team. Young players like Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski saw a lot of court time and proved their worth; Mark Cisco became one of the league”s dominant big men; and Brian Barbour developed quickly into perhaps the league”s most impressive point guard.

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Season Preview: Brown Bears

Several question marks surround this Bears team in Mike Martin”s first year at the helm in Providence.

In 2011-12: 8-23, 2-12, 7th place

A Look Back:

At the start of last season, the Bears had plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Point guard Sean McGonagill was coming off a freshman season in which he was named Rookie of the Year, ranking 4th in the league with 5.4 assists per game and showing he could really fill up the stat sheet with a 39-point explosion against Columbia. Forward Tucker Halpern was primed for a breakout year, having earned an All-Ivy honorable mention as a sophomore after averaging around 12 and 5. McGonagill and Halpern were

also set to receive help in the middle from highly-touted 6-9 Brazilian newcomer Rafael Maia, who was expected to provide a much-needed defensive presence in the middle, as well as some scoring on the block.

Before the season even began, though, Brown caught some horrible breaks: Halpern went down with an illness that would keep him out all year, and Maia was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. With a decimated frontcourt, the Bears had to rely largely on McGonagill, combo guard Matt Sullivan, and sharpshooter Stephen Albrecht, a Toledo transfer, to carry the load offensively. The forward trio of Andrew McCarthy, Tyler Ponticelli, and Dockery Walker all had good stretches at times, but they couldn’t make up for the losses of Halpern and Maia, and Brown finished in second-to-last place in the Ivy League.

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Season Preview: Penn Quakers

Penn will look to its underclassmen to help replace the scoring of Rosen and Bernardini this season.

In 2011-12: 20-13, 11-3, 2nd place.

A Look Back: Two words: Zack Rosen. Not much else needs to be said (but I”ll say it anyway). Quaker fans were led on a roller coaster ride last season thanks to one of the greatest individual performances in recent Ivy League history. But let”s first recall that most people did not expect too much from Penn last year. Rosen, Bernardini, and Cartwright were talented guards, but this team had no size and Jerome Allen was in just his second full season as head coach.

Flash forward to February when the Cardiac Quakers were officially born. Rosen kicked off a magical month by nailing a dagger three pointer in the waning seconds to defeat a pesky Dartmouth squad at the Palestra. The next weekend, the Quakers handled Cornell behind 25 from Rosen and followed that up with an overtime to knock off Columbia.

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Season Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

A young Dartmouth squad showed flashes of progress last year. They’ll try to take another step forward by moving out of the basement this season.

In 2011-12: 5-25, 1-13, 8th place

A Look Back: Dartmouth has been treading water for a while now, and the last three seasons have been eerily similar: a few non-conference wins, an Ivy home win towards the middle of the season and a whole lot of defeats. The Big Green has won just five games in each of the past three seasons and hasn’t won an Ivy road contest since February 21, 2009, when Ivy Player of the Year Alex Barnett led Dartmouth to victory at Princeton.

Dartmouth opened 1-2 before heading across the continent for the Great Alaska Shootout, falling to San Francisco and

Central Michigan but nabbing a win over DII Alaska-Anchorage. Wins against Elon and Longwood were the only other highlights from a losing non-conference season that mostly featured games against local competition – a 65-47 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 10 being the notable exception.

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Season Preview: Cornell Big Red

This year, Cornell will look to improve upon last year”s 5th place finish. The Big Red open their season at home against Western Michigan on November 10th.

In 2011-12: 12-16, 7-7, 5th place

A Look Back

Two steps removed from the historic Sweet 16 team and the first season that Bill Courtney had his own recruits to work with, the 2011-2012 campaign served as a building block for Courtney and his program. A 5-9 non-conference record coupled with 7-7 in Ivy play defines

the word mediocrity, but did so in a way that provides promise for the future. An overtime win over future NCAA Tournament darlings, Lehigh, looks a lot better now than it did in early December. Near misses on the road against BCS foes, Illinois, Penn State, and Maryland showed the potential this team had. Road woes and inconsistent play kept the Red out of the league’s top half, but a win over Princeton and a thrilling overtime defeat of Yale showed what this team is at its best. Returning a decorated freshman class, including the league’s rookie of the year will allow Cornell to keep building. What won’t be easy to replicate is the production and leadership of Cornell’s starting backcourt. Drew Ferry led the league in three point shooting and Chris Wroblewski departs East Hill as the school’s all-time assist leader.

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Season Preview: Yale Bulldogs

A win-probability chart of Yale”s most exhilarating victory last season, a 20-point comeback at Columbia. Yale will need more of that magic this year after losing Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite to graduation. (Chart from KenPom.com)

In 2011-12: 19-10, 9-5 in “11-12, 4th place.

A Look Back: The 2011-12 season was a year that Yale had been building towards for quite a while with all-league big man Greg Mangano becoming a senior and a strong supporting cast having formed around him. A successful run through the non-conference slate and the emergence of Reggie Willhite as a team leader and all-around stat stuffer made this Bulldogs team a trendy dark horse pick entering the Ivy season. A comprehensive dismantling of a good Vermont team and a victory at Rhode Island had Eli fans dreaming of dancing for the first time in Coach Jones” tenure. The Bulldogs got safely through the home-and-home with Brown unscathed, setting up perhaps the most highly anticipated hardwood version of “The Game” in decades. A raucous atmosphere awaited the Crimson favorites as they entered John J. Lee on January 27th, 2012. Unfortunately for Yale fans, Harvard put forth an utterly dominating defensive performance, holding Yale to 35 points and coasting to a 65-35 thumping. The Bulldogs were not yet ready for primetime it seemed.

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