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BX Ivy League and Patriot League Preview and Notes
by: Drew Barnette - Staff Writer
October 19, 2007
I was unable to post the Ivy League preview yesterday, which is why this article contains both the Ivy League and the Patriot League.


IVY LEAGUE NOTES AND RAMBLINGS

-Either Penn or Princeton has won the Ivy League championship every year since 1988. This year, however, it looks like some of the other teams are finally catching up. Princeton was actually just 2-12 last season, which earned them a last place finish in the conference standings. It was the worst season in school history, and they’re actually in a rebuilding phase right now.

-The Ivy League is the only conference that does not have a tournament to decide its champion. Each team gets to play 30 non-exempt games instead of 29 due to the fact that there is no tournament.

-They are also the only div1 conference that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.


IVY LEAGUE TEAMS

-CORNELL is a team to watch for, and there is a very good chance that they’ll be the first team who’s name does not start with the letter ‘P’ to win the Ivy League in twenty years. Forward Ryan Wittman, who averaged 15.6ppg as a freshman last season, is back. Guard Adam Gore, who missed most of last season with an injury, is also back. He is a very good outside shooter, which means that this team has weapons both inside and outside. Cornell has several other players that can pass the ball well and shoot it well from the outside. They also have some weapons coming off their bench and appear to be the most complete team in the league this season.

-YALE also has a team that could compete for the league title. They finished the season rather strong last year and were actually in the race for first place last season, but two late season losses to Penn and Columbia widened the gap and they just couldn’t catch Penn. With four starters coming back, they once again have a strong team. Like Cornell, they are balanced with a solid frontcourt and backcourt. Guard Eric Flato is a great defender. He’s also a strong outside shooter and can pass the ball very well. They also have some depth on their team, which will also help them out.

-Despite the fact that PENN lost some of their best players, they are still one of the best teams in the league and are very much in the mix to win the championship. Guard Brian Grandieri is a big contributor, and they have other players that can step up as well. They don’t have the experience that some other teams have, but it does look as if they have the talent. A lot of the younger guys on this team have been waiting for the opportunity to step into a major role and contribute.

-COLUMBIA has one of the best front courts in the league, and they may have the best player in the league in forward John Baumann. He actually shot close to 58% from the field last season and can hit from both the inside and the outside. All five starters are back for Columbia, who have gone from one of the worst teams in div1 to building themselves up into a team that could possibly contend for the conference title. Their backcourt isn’t as good as what some other teams have, but their frontcourt is clearly the best in the league.

-BROWN was playing really well at the end of the season last year and won four of their last six games and they nearly defeated Penn in the final game of the season. Unfortunately it took them too long to kick it into gear and they were way out of the postseason picture by the time things really started to click, but with four starters back this season they may be a team that will contend. They have some pretty solid guard play with Mike McAndrew and Damon Huffman. McAndrew is a pretty good outside shooter and that should be an asset to the Bears this season.

-PRINCETON has been a powerhouse in the league for most of its existence, which is what made last year’s 2-12 season so surprising. They underwent a coaching change, and hired Sidney Johnson, who is a former Princeton player and was an assistant for Georgetown’s Final Four team last year. Look for them to play at a slightly faster pace than they did a year ago. They’re still Princeton and it’s still the Princeton offense, but it won’t be quite as slow as it was for the past three years.

-The big news at HARVARD is that Tommy Amaker takes over as head coach. They have never won an Ivy League championship, and it doesn’t look like they’ll win it this year, but with a coach who has had success at other levels there is reason to think they are headed in the right direction. The Crimson are much stronger at guard than they are in the frontcourt. Guard Drew Housman is the leading returning scorer, and he’s also a very good defensive player. Other than that, it just doesn’t look like Harvard has the weapons yet to compete for the league championship.

-DARTMOUTH struggled last season, and to make matters worse they lost their leading scorer from last year. The team struggled with injuries last year and that also ended up hurting them. Their frontcourt appears to be decent, but other players on the team will have to step it up if they want to improve on the 9-18 season they had a year ago.





PATRIOT LEAGUE NOTES AND RAMBLINGS

-Holy Cross and Bucknell dominated the league last year. Each team went 13-1 with the only loss coming to each other. They then faced each other in the conference championship game, which Holy Cross won on their home court. No one else in the rest of the league managed to finish above .500. It appears as though they’re two of the better teams once again, but the gap between themselves and everyone else might not be quite so large this year.



PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAMS

-HOLY CROSS won the league last year, and has been to three straight conference championship games. Expect them to be in the mix once again. They did lose two of their leading scorers from last season, but return the other three starters and appear to have the weapons they need to fill in for the guys they lost. They may not be as good as they were last season, but they still look like one of the better teams in the league. Center Tim Clifford is one of the best big men in the league, and he will be a huge force underneath for the Crusaders this year.

-BUCKNELL has had a tremendous run. They went to two NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the second round in both years before just missing the NCAAs last year. They lose a lot of talent, and this will be a test to see how stable they are for the long haul because they will be relying on several new players who are trying to show they can step up and take over right where last year’s contributors left off. They are strong at the guard position with both John Griffen and Jason Vegotsky coming back, but where they really appear to be question marks is in their frontcourt.

-ARMY was 15-16 last season, which may not sound all that impressive, but for a team that is routinely among the worst in div1 it was fantastic. They actually began the season by winning nine of their first 11 games, but ended up just going 4-10 in conference play. They did lose their best player in Matt Bell, but they have three starters coming back. They also have Jarred Brown, who averaged nearly 17ppg off the bench last year and is a terrific outside shooter. I don’t see them challenging for the league title or a spot in the postseason, but I do think that this Army team will be much better than what we are used to seeing.

-LEHIGH finished in a tie for third place last season, but lost their coach over the summer, which really put them in a bind because it is hard to replace a coach that late in the year. They ended up hiring Brett Reed, and he’s got his work cut out for him. One of their best players has graduated, but they do have three other starters coming back, including sophomore guard Marquis Hall, who was rookie of the year in the league last year.

-COLGATE went 10-19 for the second year in a row last year, but should be slightly improved this year. Three starters are back along with Kyle Roemer who missed last season, so they have more experience than they’re used to having. They are strong in the frontcourt as well, which gives the team some balance.

-AMERICAN lost most of their overall offensive production and has just one starter coming back. With six new players on the team and very little experience, it isn’t likely that they’ll compete for a league championship. Four of the players are juco transfers and will likely see playing time right away, but at this point it’s hard to say just how good (or bad) this team will be.

-LAFAYETTE finished last in the league last year, but they should be a little better this year. All five starters are back, and they did show that they could score from the perimeter last season. I don’t think they’ll finish in last place this year, and they could actually end up finishing toward the middle, but I don’t expect them to finish near the top.

-NAVY had their best season since the 2000-2001 mark last year with a 14-16 record. They were just 4-10 in the Patriot League, but with three starters coming back it looks as though that improvement will continue. Greg Spink is a terrific all around player who is one of the best in the league. He averaged close to 17ppg last year and can also rebound, pass and shoot well from the outside. It looks as though some of his teammates will be able to step up and help as well. They aren’t going to be the doormat this year that we’re used to seeing.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to drew.barnette@draftexpress.com .

 

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