Former Dartmouth assistant coach John Andrzejek has joined Kyle Smith’s staff at Washington State as its director of analytics. This will be Andrzejek’s third stint with the former Lions head coach. While completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy in just two and a half years from Columbia in 2013, Andrzejek served as the Lions’ team manager during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons before being hired as the team’s director of basketball operations in July of 2014. He stayed in that spot until the 2016-2017 season, when he went west to join Smith as the University of San Francisco’s director of basketball operations for a year.
Mar. 20, 2019: a sparse but committed crowd enters the Pizzitola Sports Center as Brown men’s basketball hosts a playoff game, its first in five years. Hosting the UAB Blazers, the event is part of the College Basketball Invitational, a minor national tournament. The event is meant to mark the end of a historic season for Brown. Though it ended in disappointment, the regular season yielded 19 wins, tied a program record, so the event should be fun and happy.
But the atmosphere is muted because the situation is more complicated than that.
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
A depleted and dispirited Tiger squad faced off with an amped up Brown Bear quintet last night at Jadwin. The Bears came in with a chance to play themselves into next week’s Ivy Madness. Their 67-63 wire-to-wire smackdown of Princeton sends them to The Palestra with their tourney aspirations very much alive. The winner of tonight’s Brown-Penn meeting will be in the tournament. Their wins on Friday night against teams already in the field eliminated Cornell, an ironic end for Brian Earl’s dreams on the night his Big Red defeated Harvard, the probable No. 1 seed.
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Columbia was due
Columbia hadn’t won an Ivy road game since its very first under Jim Engles at Cornell on Jan. 14, 2017: 17 such games ago. The Lions were 3-8 in games decided by one possession this season, including a 72-70 loss to Penn at Levien Gym three weeks prior, and were 4-20 in games decided by six points or fewer dating back to the start of last season. So when Maka Ellis’s stunningly easy layup off an inbound pass went in with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to clinch the 79-77 win for the Lions at the Palestra, it was a long overdue coup de grâce for a program that had long been far more competitive under Engles than its win-loss column showed. Kudos to Gabe Stefanini for coming up just two rebounds shy of a triple-double (20 points, 10 assists, eight boards) and Ellis for pitching in five of his 14 points in the final 1:24 in overtime as a rookie on the road to erase Penn’s 77-72 lead at that point.
Cornell has struggled in the first half this season, and Friday night’s game against Brown was no exception. It took Cornell 12 minutes to score their first 10 points, and its defense wasn’t stellar to start either. But the Big Red eventually rallied in a nail-biter, topping the Bears, 70-66, in overtime at Newman Arena to notch their fourth straight win over Brown.
Brown was able to get a few easy baseline threes early from Desmond Cambridge and Obi Okolie, who both struggled after the first 10 minutes. Matt Morgan had a rough, three-point first half.
It was Jimmy Boeheim who stepped up early with the team struggling, scoring 13 of the team’s 27 first-half points. Cornell trailed 31-27 at the half and by as many as 13 (26-13 with 6:12 to go in the first half). It looked like a blowout in the making.
The Brown men’s basketball team finds itself ranked No. 179 at KenPom, which is its highest ranking since it was at No. 170 heading into a Nov. 17, 2015 matchup at Northwestern. With two games over the next four days against No. 29 Butler and No. 171 Stony Brook, the Bears are looking to continue their early season success as they enter into their finals break.
At 6-3, Bruno is having its best start since the team had the identical record in the beginning of the 2013-14 season, coach Mike Martin’s second year at his alma mater. With the return of all five starters and its top six scorers (93.5 percent of all points), as well as a fifth-place spot in the preseason Ivy media poll, Brown’s expectations were high heading into the start of the season. With Harvard’s top two players facing unknown return dates, Penn’s second team All-Ivy guard out for the season following an injury on opening night, a Princeton team that was without its heralded first-year four-star point guard and a Cornell team with its second-best player deciding to become a graduate transfer, it was not shocking for the Bears faithful to think that this might be the year when the team finally returns to the upper division for the first time since 2012-13, Martin’s first season at the helm. A two-point loss at No. 280 LIU-Brooklyn and a three-point defeat at No. 208 NJIT in their opening weekend quickly seemed to put the breaks on those thoughts.
In the final game of the Brown Bears Tip-Off Classic, the Army Black Knights went ice-cold from the field and Brown benefited, winning, 86-66. Brown improved to 3-2 with the win, and Army dropped to 1-4. Brown won all three games it played in the tournament, beating UMass-Lowell on Friday, 82-74, and Sacred Heart on Saturday, 82-77.
A balanced attack for the Bears saw five scorers in double digits, those being Brandon Anderson who had 16 points (4-of-8), Desmond Cambridge’s 13 (5-of-12), 12 each from Zach Hunsaker (4-of-7) and Tamenang Choh (3-of-7), and Obi Okolie’s 10 points as well (2-of-6). Tamenang Choh hauled in 10 rebounds to complete the double-double, and Joshua Howard was just two points short of a double-double as he also had 10 rebounds. Brown controlled the backboard, outrebounding the Knights, 49-33.