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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Friday, November 8, 2013

Class in Session: Talented Harvard squad favored in Ivy

AP Photo. Wesley Saunders and a talented Harvard team are the pick in the Ivy.


Though Harvard is the clear favorite in the Ivy League this season, a number of the teams appear improved from last season. Here are my predictions:

1. Harvard (20-10, 11-3): How do you top an Ivy League title and first round NCAA upset?

Try returning 88 percent of your scoring and 91 percent of your rebounding, then adding an all-Ivy forward, a proven starting point guard and the best single recruit in recent Ivy history.

That is the position the Harvard Crimson find themselves in this season. After last year’s tourney upset over New Mexico, the Crimson welcome back two of the key cogs from their 2011-12 Ivy title — forward Kyle Casey and guard Brandyn Curry — who were forced to take a year away from the program after being implicated in an academic dishonesty scandal.

They’ll rejoin a group that got along just fine without them a season ago. Both current junior Wesley Saunders and sophomore Siyani Chambers were named First Team All-Ivy, while 3-point specialist Laurent Rivard and tantalizing big man Kenyatta Smith also return.

If the additions of Casey and Curry weren’t enough, Harvard also welcomes 6-foot-8 freshman Zeno Edosomwan, who was a top-100 recruit nationally and passed up offers from elite programs like UCLA, Wake Forest and Texas, among others.

If the Crimson have a weakness, it’s of the embarrassment-of-riches variety. For example, will coach Tommy Amaker continue to use Saunders as the focal point of the offense even with Casey back in the fold? Will Chambers and Curry be able to coexist? Will Edosomwan be able to find minutes in a crowded frontcourt? Considering the Crimson’s relative struggles in league play last season — they dropped a valuable game to last-place Columbia — there are also some who question Amaker’s decision making down the stretch of close games.

While we don’t know the answers to these questions, they are certainly concerns every other Ivy squad would love to have.

2. Yale (14-17, 8-6): The Bulldogs finished third in the league last season, and return one of the best young nuclei with junior guards Javier Duren and Armani Cotton, plus sophomore big man Justin Sears. At 6-8, Sears is a rare athlete in the Ivy League, and reportedly impressed in the Nike City Pro League in New York this summer. The Bulldogs will have to deal with the loss of senior guard Austin Morgan, but from a talent perspective Duren and Cotton are likely up to the task. The bigger question will be how Yale will make up for its relative lack of veteran leadership, as senior center Jeremiah Kreisberg will miss the season after undergoing back surgery. Still, the high-side potential of Sears, Duren, Cotton and junior power forward Matt Townsend give Yale as good a shot as any of upending the Crimson.

3. Princeton (17-11, 10-4): Considering that the Tigers lost to Yale twice last season and are losing the best player in the league in Ian Hummer, it’s hard to argue that, on paper at least, Princeton should be ranked higher. The loss of Hummer, however, should mean a more balanced roster, with Jimmy Sherburne and Ben Hazel giving T.J. Bray some welcome backcourt help. Princeton will still have plenty of size in the frontcourt with sophomore Hans Brase, junior Denton Koon and senior Will Barrett, who led all of Division I last season by shooting 51.6 percent from three.

Mitch Henderson and the Tigers won't be intimidated by the Crimson.

4. Penn (9-22, 6-8): Jerome Allen’s club lost three of its first four Ivy games last season and finished just 6-8 in the league, but improved enough towards the end of the season to top Harvard at the Palestra. After a bout of mononucleosis derailed his junior campaign, senior Fran Dougherty is back and, considering his performance early last season, could be an All-Ivy player. He’ll be joined by senior guard Miles Cartwright, who was a second-team All-Ivy pick a year ago, as well as the sophomore duo of scoring guard Tony Hicks and big man Darien Nelson-Henry. There is quite a bit to like about the Quakers — talent, size, depth — but if they want to challenge the Crimson, they’ll need to be more consistent than they were last year.

5. Dartmouth (9-19, 5-9): Though they finished just 5-9 in Ivy play last season, that constituted something of a renaissance for the longtime league doormats. The Big Green should continue that upward trajectory this season, as their lone graduating senior — center Matt LeBove — was a relative nonfactor. The core of junior center Gabas Maldunas, senior two-guard Tyler Melville, sophomore power forward Connor Boehm and sophomore point guard Alex Mitola is solid, but there still isn’t enough total talent in Hanover to warrant a higher ranking here.

6. Brown (13-15, 7-7): While depth figures to be a problem for the Bears, it’s hard to argue with their starting five. Brazilian center Rafael Maia and Togolese power forward Cedric Kuakumensah developed into one of the more formidable frontcourts in the league last season, with athletic junior swingman Dockery Walker likely to take over at the three spot. The ever-dangerous Sean McGonagil is also back at point guard, and coach Mike Martin has the Bears believing on the defensive end. They’ll knock off some of the teams on the top half of this list, but unless they get some more help from their bench, its hard to imagine them finishing there.

7. Cornell (13-18, 5-9): The Big Red could be the toughest team in the league to predict this season, as their one true known quantity — junior forward Shonn Miller — is electing to sit out the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. That’s a major loss, as Miller led the team in scoring, rebounds, steals, blocked shots and minutes played. They are expected to start two freshmen in guard Robert Hatter and forward David Onuorah, with sophomore guard Nolan Cressler the only returner to have averaged more than seven points a game. Still, Cornell’s high energy and line-shift tactics make them a hard opponent to prepare for, especially on trips to Ithaca.

8. Columbia (12-16, 4-10): The Lions were perhaps the most frustrating team in the league last year, beating Harvard but losing a remarkable eight Ivy games by six points or fewer. Point guard Brian Barbour and center Mark Cisco are gone, but Grant Mullins and Cory Osetkowski proved to be nearly as effective by the end of the season. Plus, sophomore Maodo Lo looks like he could develop into one of the most explosive guards in the league. Unfortunately for coach Kyle Smith and company, that probably doesn’t add up to a top-half finish.


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