Princeton enters the 2015-16 season riding a wave of high expectations. Last season, the Tiger express was derailed by a 3-8 start, disappointing but not entirely unexpected in view of the preseason loss of senior Denton Koon, from whom great things were anticipated and, clearly, needed. (Koon elected to graduate with his class and will use his fourth year of eligibility at Hofstra.) The Tigers finished on a high note, claiming the last four Ivy contests and third place behind the co-champion Yale Bulldogs and Harvard Crimson. The Tigers’ 9-1 record against all of their Ivy foes other than Harvard and Yale is one of the main reasons for optimism in Jadwin. Another is the return of five starters and six of the first eight in the rotation, while Harvard and Yale lose All-Ivy caliber players not easily replaced.
Last year was supposed to be “the year” for Columbia, which hasn’t won an Ivy title since 1968.
Then star forward Alex Rosenberg broke his foot two weeks before the start of the season and withdrew from school — thanks to the Ivy League’s arcane player eligibility rules. A new star emerged in guard Maodo Lo, but the Lions collapsed at the end of the season, losing their final four games and any shot at competing in the postseason.
Even after five straight Ivy titles and two NCAA Tournament wins, leading this year’s Harvard team to another title would probably be the greatest accomplishment of Tommy Amaker’s career. It’s not that Harvard doesn’t have talent – but other teams may have much more proven talent. Here are my thoughts about the ‘15-’16 Harvard basketball team, taking into account the players’ performances on October 16 at Crimson Madness (the season’s kickoff practice and scrimmage at Lavietes Pavilion, which is open to the public) and how last season unfolded.
The general consensus around the Dartmouth campus is that we are headed for a down year. The loss of our two best players, Gabas Maldunas to graduation and Alex Mitola to George Washington, does not bode well for the future of Dartmouth basketball.
That being said, the buzz around the team suggests that may not be the case. This is Malik Gill’s team now. While he has seen limited playing time in the past due to living in Alex Mitola’s shadow, he will now be the floor general and playmaker. Gill’s underrated athletic ability and quick hands will make him one of the better defenders in the Ivy League, and he will wreak havoc on D.
There’s a new word surrounding Penn basketball this season: whānau.
What does this word mean and what does it have to do with the Quakers program under new coach Steve Donahue? The word means family in the Maori language.
Yet, as Donahue says, it means much more. It also refers to one’s extended family and their community, something that the Red and Blue hope to embrace in the 2015-16 season.
Embracing the community is a necessity after the Quakers’ recent lack of success. Penn is coming off possibly the worst three-year stretch in program history, a period that led to the ouster of coach Jerome Allen and the tenure of Donahue. A Penn assistant from 1990-2000 and the former head coach of Cornell and Boston College, Donahue brings a new wave of optimism and excitement to his former school.
Coach Mike Martin enters his fourth season at the helm for the Bears, looking to improve on last season’s 4-10 Ivy record. With Martin’s early recruits coming of age and the addition of some under-the-radar talent, there’s reason for optimism in Providence.
First and foremost, this is Cedric Kuakumensah’s team, as the imposing senior center and captain looks to build upon the greatest defensive reputation in the league. Outside of Kuakumensah, the Bears will look to replace the contributions of reliable big man, Rafael Maia, and they’ll look to a young cast to do so. Watch out for Travis Fuller, the 6-9 freshman from Encinitas, Calif. The early returns are positive on Fuller, as the skilled big man looks to fill Maia’s void in the frontcourt.
This year”s 2015-16 Cornell season preview comes from Barry Leonard, who is looking forward to his 24th year providing top-notch radio broadcasting of Big Red hoops.
As he enters year number six as the head coach of Cornell basketball, Bill Courtney will embrace the phrase “Youth must be served.”