Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ivy League Preview


The only conference without a tournament, the Ivy League did not have a very exciting finish to the season. Penn clinched the league title with three games left, essentially rendering the final part of the season meaningless. They ran away with the conference from the get-go and never looked back. The Quakers lost in the first round to Boston College, in a game in which they seemed overmatched. This season should be more competitive down the stretch.

Favorites: Penn loses the conference Player of the Year in Tim Begley, but returns four other starters. Ibrahim Jaaber might be the best guard in the league. He can do a variety of things on the court. Mark Zoller and Steve Danley are one of the better forward tandems in the conference; both will contend for All-Conference honors. Eric Osmundson is a good three-point shooter and, along with David Whitehurst, provides scoring on the perimeter. Harvard has possibly the two best players in the league in low-post players Matt Stehle and Brian Cusworth. Both can take over a game and carry the Crimson. So, why aren't they the favorites? The other three starters are gone, including the entire backcourt. Michael Beal and Jim Goffredo are going to have to step up and produce on the perimieter. In addition, a point guard needs to come forward and claim the starting spot. Princeton is always in the thick of things, and it shouldn't be any different this season. Their top two scorers are gone, but several very capable role players are ready to step up. Luke Owings is versatile, and is an excellent three point shooter. He should become an all-conference players this season. Noah Savage and Scott Greenman are two more very good deep shooters thate are going to improve their production this year. Like Harvard, they are in need of a steady point guard to run the show.

Sleepers: Cornell has one of the best players in the league in swingman Lenny Collins He fills up the stat sheet and can also shoot the three. Point guard Graham Dow is an excellent defender and makes this team go. Khaliq Gant provides accurate three-point shooting on the wing. Inside players Ryan Rourke, who could develop into a solid low-post option, Andrew Naeve, Jason Hartford, and Ugo Ihekweazu should give the Big Red balance on offense. Brown loses star guard Jason Forte, but returns the other four starters. Luke Ruscoe is going to become the new go-to-guy for the Bruins. The backcourt is in decent shape with returnees Damon Huffman and Marcus Becker anchoring it. Expect improved production from both of them. There are also several guys that played supporting roles last season that are going to get more minutes this year, including guards Mark McAndrew and Keenan Jeppeson; and forwards Mark MacDonald and Sam Manhanga.

Rounding Out the Pack: Dartmouth had a decent season within the conference a season ago, going 7-7 and finishing in third. They return the best sixth man in the league from a year ago in Mike Lang, who should develop into an all-conference guard. Two returning starters anchor the frontcourt. Calvin Arnold and Chuck Flynn are solid scorers and rebounders. Johnathan Ball is another solid player on the wing. Two incoming freshmen, Marlon Sanders and Alex Barnett are expected to contribute immediately. Yale return one of the best big men in the league in Dominick Martin, who is a very good scorer and rebounder. Casey Hughes produces in a variety of aspects, and could become an all-conference players this eason. Forwards Sam Kaplan and Caleb Holmes are solid bookends, while guard Eric Flato is ready to step up in the backcourt after a very good freshman season. Columbia was the worst team in the Ivy last season and they lose their two best players from that team. However, a decent inside-outside combo does return in guard Brett Loscalzo and Dragutin Kravic. Ben Nwachukwu and John Baumann are solid contributers in the frontcourt. Mark Montomery is a returning starter on the wing.

Prediction: Although Harvard has the two best players in the league, Penn is the more complete team and should win the league. Ibrahim Jaaber and Eric Osmundson provide great outside balance to the inside tandem Mark Zoller and Steve Danley. Zoller and Danley should be able to hold their own against Harvard's star duo of Matt Stehle and Brian Cusworth. Unless Harvard finds a backcourt on their roster to compete with the Quakers, Penn will repeat as the Ivy League champions.

Player of the Year: Matt Stehle, PF, Harvard

All-Conference Team:
G- Lenny Collins, Cornell
G- Ibrahim Jaaber, Penn
F- Matt Stehle, Harvard
C- Brian Cusworth, Harvard
C- Dominick Martin, Yale

Second Team:
G- Mike Lang, Dartmouth
G- Casey Hughes, Yale
F- Mark Zoller, Penn
F- Luke Ruscoe, Brown
F- Steve Danley, Penn

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