Sports

Bears fall behind early in Ivy League race

By
Sports Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

While the rest of the student body returned home for the holidays, the men’s basketball team remained on campus, playing eight games over the break.

“In basketball, we don’t have holidays,” said Head Coach Jesse Agel. “It’s the greatest time of the year for our guys. It’s like being a pro player. All you need to worry about is your game and getting better, and you don’t need to worry about school.”

Bruno (7-9, 0-2 Ivy) split six non-conference match-ups, defeating Bryant (6-14) 84-71, Lyndon St. (5-11) 88-55 and Quinnipiac (12-7) 87-78, while falling to Army (10-10) 88-86, Central Connecticut State (12-7) 67-51 and American (14-6) 77-67. The Bears’  seven wins in non-league games ranks third in school history for non-conference victories in a season.

“We’ve had a very solid — one of the best ever — non-conference record,” Agel said. “Now, we just want to parlay that into playing well throughout the league and improving as we go along.”

Bruno opened Ivy League play Jan. 15 at home against Yale (9-7, 2-0), losing 69-64. Tucker Halpern ’13 led the Bears with 16 points and 7 rebounds, and point guard Sean McGonagill ’14 added 14 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Brown had difficulty capitalizing on offense, shooting only 38 percent (21 of 56) from the field. Yale forward Greg Mangano had an impressive performance for the Bulldogs, scoring 23 points and grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds.

The Bears and Bulldogs played their rematch a week later in New Haven, Conn., and Bruno was bested once again, 59-51. Peter Sullivan ’11, McGonagill and Halpern led the team with 11 points each and forward Dockery Walker ’14 added 9 points and 5 rebounds. Sullivan’s 11 points propelled him to 11th on the all-time scoring list with 1,251 points. Mangano once again excelled for the Bulldogs, contributing 17 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks.

One of the storylines over the break was the emergence of Walker, a rookie player out of Dover, Del. He has shown flashes of impressive play, posting 10 points and 13 rebounds against American and 12 points and 10 rebounds against Lyndon St. Agel said he is impressed with what he has seen so far in the freshman forward and knows that Walker will only continue to improve.

“He’s extremely quiet off the court, but he becomes a lion on the court,” he said. “A lion can sleep 23 hours a day, but when he wakes up, he’s still a lion. He keeps getting better every second he’s out there, and it’s a joy to watch his improvement on a daily basis.”

After starting 0-2 in league play, Bruno must make a quick turnaround if it hopes to earn a postseason berth. The Ivy League is the only league in the country without a conference tournament, so the team with the best final record represents the league in the NCAA tournament.

“All our guys know we don’t have a postseason tournament, so every conference game is like a postseason game,” Agel said. “It’s a totally different atmosphere. There’s a lot of internal pressure, so you play your hardest and see what happens.”

The Bears continue Ivy League play with a two-game road trip, when they will face Princeton (12-4, 0-0) on Friday and Penn (6-8, 0-0) on Saturday.

“We still haven’t hit our peak yet,” Agel said. “Right now, we’re still a work in progress. We’re getting better every time out.”

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