There is a good chance Jon Teitel knows more about Ivy League basketball than anyone else alive. Here are his notes from a conference call with Ivy League coaches. Notes are listed by coach in predicted order of finish. These notes will come out in two installments, teams five to eight today and one to four tomorrow.
#8 Dartmouth – Coach Paul Cormier
We have a team of youth and excitement that really has a passion for basketball. We have three guys who were freshmen last year who we expect to start once they are all healthy. Matt LaBove is our only senior, but we have a few other guys who are 6’8” and 6’9”. We also have a lot of 6’5” guys who can play multiple positions. We will be small in the backcourt but we will be quicker and more talented with the freshmen we brought in. I am more concerned with our lack of experience than our lack of height. When I left the Ivy League in the early-1990s the Mid-American Conference was ranked higher than we were, and I believe this year the MAC is ranked lower than we are. It has been tough for us to get out of the Ivy cellar, which is a much harder task than I anticipated before I took the head coaching job. These days you cannot make a jump to the top of the conference with just one great recruit: you need multiple years of good recruiting. We want to go recruit in North Carolina and out west, which is why we scheduled some non-conference opponents such as Elon and Arizona State.
#7 Yale – Coach James Jones
We expect some freshmen and sophomores to play a part on our team, and we are looking for them to step up. We have some losses with Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite, so there is a lot of opportunity to fill the void. When you only have 10-11 practices under your belt your focus is on your own team rather than on your opponents. We have had stretches of tough opponents almost every year that I have been here. The Florida game got switched to January 6. I did not really plan on playing them right after Nevada, St. Mary’s and Iowa State, but I hope that the eyes of my players/staff will be opened so we can get some insight after seeing how our opponents expose us to some things we do not see in the Ivy League. We have a 16-man roster (including one walk-on), all 15 scholarship players have a chance to be on the floor and get some important minutes. Nobody knew who Greg and Reggie were prior to their junior years, so we will use a group of guys who are not household names to help us out around the basket.
#6 Brown – Coach Mike Martin
It is a great thrill for me to be back at Brown while our league is at an all-time high. Working for Coach Jerome Allen was a great experience for me. I learned so much from him as well as Glen Miller. Jerome knows all about what it means to be a student-athlete in the Ivy League. He demands respect from his players and is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and help his program. We are hopeful that Tucker Halpern [who averaged 12.6 PPG as an All-Ivy player two years ago before missing last season due to illness] can return to form, but he is still working his way back from various ailments over the past 12-15 months. He is a skilled offensive player with good shooting and passing ability. Our league lost some good players in guys like Rosen and Mangano, but our league’s recruiting has been elevated to help offset those big losses. You want to be part of a conference that can go out and win games against BCS teams. I think the top teams in our league can compete with anyone in the country.
#5 Cornell – Bill Courtney
Drew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski are two big losses because they were our two leading scorers, but we feel that we have a chance to be pretty competitive. We want to test ourselves in non-conference play (Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Duke) to prepare us for our conference season. One of the things we have struggled with is performing well on the road, so we need to try to sneak out a road win or two early this season. Shonn Miller made a ton of strides from high school to college, but he has made even more strides over the summer. He is a very diligent young man who has diversified his game this summer by shooting threes and driving to the hoop. I think every team in our league has the chance to win the conference. This is my first season where we do not have to rely as heavily on our freshman class.