IVY LEAGUE CONFERENCE PREVIEW
Nearly every team in this league appears to be improved from a season ago. Its been awhile since the Ivy League made any significant noise in March, but this could be a year where the champion of the league could make some noise in the NCAAs and get out of the first round.
-1. PENN. The Quakers have two of the best players in the league in guard Ibrahim Jaaber
and forward Mark Zoller. Jaaber was the player of the year in the Ivy League last year and led the Quakers in scoring at 18.2ppg. They clearly appear to be the best team in the Ivy League and could be good enough to make some noise on the national scene. They do have a new head coach this season after Fran Dunphy left Penn to take the job across town at Temple. That will definitely be an interesting game when the two get together this season. Glen Miller, the new coach, will probably bring a similar look to the team so it shouldnt be a difficult transition.
-2. PRINCETON. The Tigers look to be the only team that could really challenge Penn in the Ivy this year. They return four starters and have a lot in the way of discipline and experience, but they may have a difficult time replacing Scott Greenman who was the starting point guard a season ago. Head coach Joe Scott hasnt had a team really contend for the league title in the two seasons hes been there. They finished in second last season, but still ended up two games behind Penn in the standings. Forward Noah Savage should be a presence underneath this season.
-3. YALE. The Bulldogs stumbled down the stretch last season and lost four of their last six games, but they have four starters coming back and are very experienced. They do have to replace center Dominick Martin, who was a huge contributor for them underneath last year, but they have a great guard in Eric Flato who shoots 41% from three point land. Forward Sam Kaplan is another big time player and a 55% shooter from the field. They have slowly been improving over the past several seasons and are still trying to get to the point to where they can challenge for the league title.
-4. CORNELL. The Big Red have an amazing guard in Adam Gore, who is one of the best outside shooters in all of college basketball at 42% from behind the arc. Center Adam Naeve is also a great shot blocker and a major presence underneath. They have managed winning records in conference play the last two seasons and appear to have a good team again this year.
-5. BROWN. The Bears could be somewhat of a dark horse in this conference. I have them projected as fifth, but I wouldnt be at all surprised if they finished higher in the standings than that. They had a sluggish season last year, but finished strong. They won four of their last seven and nearly beat Penn in the season finale. They return all five starters from last years team, including guard Keenan Jeppesen who is a tremendous defensive player. He also led the team in scoring last season. One person that isnt coming back from last season is Glen Miller, their old head coach, who left to take the job at Penn.
-6. HARVARD. The Crimson are strong on the perimeter with guards Jim Goffredo and Drew Housman. They also have a great big man in center Brian Cusworth
, who is a great scorer and shot blocker. Harvard got off to a great start a season ago, but fell apart down the stretch losing eight of their last nine. They have the potential to be a good team if they play like they did early in the season, but they struggled mightily down the stretch.
-7. COLUMBIA. The Lions have a good front court with players like center Ben Nwachukwu and forward John Baumann, but they dont appear to be that strong out on the perimeter. Still, all five starters return from last years team and this might be the year Columbia finally puts together a more competitive team. They have been among the worst in college basketball for the past few seasons.
-8. DARTMOUTH. It will likely be a long season for the Big Green. They appear to be lacking in both talent and experience and that is a bad combination. They finished at the bottom of the league last year and are likely headed back for that this year.
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.