Sports

M. hoops hosts Tigers and Quakers

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 2010

After splitting the season series against Yale over the past two weeks, the men’s basketball team (7-12, 1-1 Ivy) tips off against two bastions of the Ivy League this weekend.

The Princeton Tigers (9-5, 0-0) and Penn Quakers (1-13, 0-0) combined to win eight of the 10 Ivy League titles in the last decade. And while the teams — especially the Quakers — have recently fallen on hard times, Brown Head Coach Jesse Agel knows his team has two tough battles ahead as it enters the heart of league play. 

“There’s nothing like it,” Agel said, referring to the league’s Friday-Saturday scheduling format. “It’s a unique thing, and it’s going to be a first-time experience with a team that uses so many freshmen.” 

Princeton will come into the Pizzitola Center playing well, having won seven of its last eight non-conference games. The Tigers rounded out their non-conference schedule last Sunday by defeating Division III Goucher College, 88-35.

The Quakers are in the midst of a tumultuous year, marked by an early-season firing of former Brown coach Glen Miller after a 0-7 start. Interim Head Coach Jerome Allen has not fared much better, with the team dropping three straight contests after its only victory of the year at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Despite the disappointing results on the scoreboard, Allen praised his players for maintaining focus through the coaching change.

“I think the guys have done a tremendous job in just responding in the most positive manner,” Allen said. 

The Bears will have to focus their defensive efforts on Penn’s Zack Rosen to be successful Saturday night. Rosen, a sophomore guard, is averaging 16.2 points per game, which places him fifth in the league.

“We have to keep him in front of us,” Agel said. “He’s a very good player who can score the ball. More importantly, we have to prevent him from getting his teammates good shots and raising their confidence.”

Before arriving in Providence for Saturday’s 7 p.m. start, Penn will kick off its league schedule Friday at Yale.

Meanwhile, Bears fans will hope for two bounce-back performances from Tucker Halpern ’13. Halpern was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week two weeks ago, after his strong games against Wagner and Army and a career-high 26 points against Quinnipiac.

But his conference career got off to a rocky start, as he was 1-of-19 shooting in the games against the Bulldogs, including 0-of-9 from behind the arc.

“Guys are going to have off nights,” Agel said. “All he needs to do is keep playing with the utmost confidence. It’s a learning experience, and he’ll perform very well.”

Brown will also look to come out of the gate fast in both matchups. The Bulldogs pounced on the Bears last Friday, scoring 12 of the first 14 points and forcing Brown to play catch-up for the remainder of the game.

“This year, there’s only been a few times we haven’t come out scoring well,” Agel said. “It’s been one of our strengths, so (the start against Yale) was just a blip on the screen.”

If the Bears hope to hang with two of the most storied programs in the Ivy League this weekend, they will likely need to avoid any more blips.