Cornell Season Preview – “They’re Bad,” But How Bad?

It’s that time of the year. The leaves are changing colors, the Jets’ season is hopelessly lost, and gym floors everywhere are echoing with the sound of squeaking feet and whistles that have been missing for way too long. It’s the season of previews, where the optimists shine and everyone still has a chance.

Everyone except for Cornell, at least if you ask assistant coaches around the league.

“They’re bad. Pretty simply put, they’re bad.”

“Cornell is in trouble.”

“[I] just don’t see them winning many more games than last year.”

These are among the flattering remarks anonymous Ivy League assistant coaches dispensed about the Big Red in City of Basketball Love‘s “Coaches’ Thoughts” Ivy season preview. The media wasn’t any more impressed as the Big Red were projected to finish last in the preseason media poll by an overwhelming margin.

I get it. Coming off of a 2-26 season with only one Division I win, it’s hard not to automatically slot Cornell at the bottom of the pack. The climb up from the bottom is never as swift as the fall from the top and the Red haven’t done anything to prove that they are more capable than a season ago.

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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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Yale Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Optimism abounds in New Haven as the Yale Bulldogs return most major pieces from a team that advanced all the way to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) final last March. Let there be no mistake: led by Ivy League Player of the Year favorite Justin Sears, the 2014-15 Bulldogs have their best shot at an Ivy League title in the last decade. Despite the media’s unanimous crowning of the Bulldogs’ arch-nemesis up in Cambridge, Yale was voted second in the preseason poll and already proved last year that it can hang with the big boys in Lavietes, notching a dominant, league-rattling 74-67 victory over the Crimson in the midst of a seven-game winning streak that brought dreams of March glory to southern Connecticut. Coach James Jones has done a remarkable job of keeping Yale competitive consistently during every season he’s had at the helm, but he’s still looking for that elusive NCAA berth to hang his hat on. If it’s going to happen, it will probably be this year with his hard-working point guard Javier Duren in his senior season and the team building off the momentum of last year’s thrilling postseason run. After exploding in 2013-14, Justin Sears will get a lot of defensive attention this year, so it remains to be seen if the rest of the squad will be able to take advantage of their opportunities.

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2014-15 Penn Season Preview – Empires Crumble

Ancient QuakerNothing lasts forever.  Of what was once a powerful 500-year-old Republic, all that remains now of the Roman Empire are some weathered boulders scattered across Italy in the form of decaying monuments. And what has become of Britain’s Empire that once stretched to every continent on the planet? It has been reduced to a token naval force and an army of T-shirted, potbellied, Guinness-fueled, vomiting soccer hooligans who now invade neighboring lands in the name of “Man U” instead of Her Majesty the Queen.

Therefore it should not be a shock to Quaker fans that the era of Quaker hoops dominance is now effectively over. Having ruled admirably over the Ivy League for almost 30 years (along with Princeton—an effete and supercilious France to our noble and righteous England), the torch has now been passed to upstart Harvard. (The powerful but crass and cultureless “America” if you will in my little imperial scenario.) What was for years our birthright (at least we thought it was) is now handily out of reach for the foreseeable future.  Since our last championship in 2007, The League has been effectively turned upside down with Harvard, Columbia, Yale and, most likely, Brown at the top.  Twenty years ago, no one could ever have imagined this anymore than they could a bunch of ill-equipped colonists defeating the most powerful Domain in the history of civilization.

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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 2014-15 Season Preview

The fourth year of the Mitch Henderson era opened on a high note in August when the Tigers’ skipper was declared one of the Top 10 Coaches Under 40 by Bleacher Report. Posting a winning percentage over .640 earns a lot of respect in the coaching fraternity. But Henderson’s 2013-14 mark of 21-9 fails to soothe the sting of an 8-6 Ivy mark, which left the Tigers in a third place tie. In an improving League Henderson may be hard-pressed to improve.

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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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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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