Momentum. It’s what the men’s basketball team has and what it needs to keep.
The Bulldogs (5-9, 2-0 Ivy) will look to extend their two-game winning streak when they host Brown (6-7, 1-1) at 8 p.m. (WYBC-AM 1340) at the Lee Amphitheater.
The Elis are coming off two impressive road wins at Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend and hope to jump to a 3-0 start in Ivy League play for the second straight season.
“I don’t think anyone besides us expected it,” Chris Leanza ’03 said of his team’s start. “[The media] picked us to finish last in the league. We are going to keep surprising some people.”
Brown head coach Glen Miller is not one of those people the Bulldogs will surprise.
“I certainly wouldn’t have picked them last,” Miller said. “Are they a great team? No. But they are a solid team that is very consistent and that makes them tough to beat.”
Like Yale, Brown is a young squad, featuring 11 sophomores and freshmen. The team’s difficult non-conference schedule has quickly thrown its young players into the heat of Division I college basketball combat. The Bears have played three of the Big East’s best teams on the road, No. 15 Connecticut, No. 25 Boston College and Providence, losing to all of them.
While this schedule has given a boost to Brown’s RPI — the Bears are No. 173 in the country, an unimpressive stat in the scheme of Division I basketball but good for second in the Ivy League, behind only Princeton at No. 119 — it is unclear whether it has had a positive effect.
“Our team needs confidence, and I am not quite sure if we got that,” Miller said. “We had blowouts against Providence and BC. I don’t know if that did us any good.”
Miller said his team needs to learn how to compete day-in and day-out. He cited his team’s performance this past weekend as an example of its inconsistency. The Bears were able to upend Dartmouth on the road, 66-58, but were trounced at Harvard the next night, 91-69.
“We expect them to be on top of their game,” Leanza said. “It’s what you have got to expect every time you go out there. I am sure they will be pumped up.”
Brown forward Earl Hunt has had no difficult in finding consistency. The 6-foot-5-inch sophomore has scored at least 20 points in his last six games and his 22.1 scoring average is good for 10th in the nation.
“Defensively [teams] are focusing on Hunt,” Miller said. “We need some other guys to step up and do something for us. I don’t think anyone can shut Earl down.”
The task of stopping Hunt will fall to Ime Archibong ’03, the current Ivy League Player of the Week. The sophomore guard registered the best weekend of his career, a 19-point effort against Harvard, including the game-winning basket, and 16 points in the team’s come-from-behind victory at Dartmouth.
The Elis should have the edge on the boards as 6-foot-11-inch Neil Yanke ’01 and 6-foot-10-inch Tom Kritzer ’01 have a significant height advantage over Brown’s regulars. However, the Bulldogs were outdone on the glass 46-35 by a smaller Harvard team last Friday, 26 of those boards coming on the offensive end for the Crimson. Yanke said the team must focus on rebounding off free throws and long misses in order to avoid duplicating that performance.
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