M. Cagers 'On' For #23 Tigers
Cagers Enter Palestra With Four-Game Win Streak
The on-again, off-again Ivy League men's basketball season turns back on for good this weekend, with every team's weekend schedule booked solid for the next month.
For its fourth consecutive league game, the Crimson (4-0 Ivy, 6-9 overall) is taking its show on the road. Harvard will get its first opportunity in three weeks to defend its league lead against Pennsylvania tonight, and Princeton tomorrow.
Besides its perfect Ivy record, the Crimson will also carry a four-game winning streak into the Palestra Friday. After going one-for-December, Harvard started 1991 with a bang, sweeping the month of January. The sweep included three Ivy League road victories.
"Right now, Harvard is the team to beat," Pennsylvania Head Coach Fran Dunphy said. "They are a team on a roll."
Penn (1-1 Ivy, 4-9 overall) and its plethora of big men will be the first team to attempt to lower Harvard from the unbeaten Ivy ranks. The Quakers boast five men of 6'7" or better.
Heading the list are starters Ray Marshall (center) and Vince Curran (forward), both 6'7". They are joined at that lofty Ivy height by forwards Mike Milobsky and Sean Dineen, who lead a deep Quaker bench. Sophomore center Andy Wise stands above them all at 6'9".
The offensive punch in the Quaker lineup, however, is supplied by guards Paul McMahon and Ken Graf, who combine for almost 25 points a game. A third guard, Paul Chambers, rounds out the Penn starting five.
But don't look for that quintet to last the whole game, because Dunphy likes to shuffle his lineup early and often.
"Because we really don't have one guy who can come in and score 30 points on a given night, we have to go with a lot of different people," Dunphy said. "We'll usually play 10 or 11 men a night."
Battle of Unbeatens?
Depending on the outcome of tonight's contests, Saturday's game at Jadwin Gym between the Crimson and Princeton (2-0 Ivy League, 11-2 overall) could be an early-season showdown of Ivy unbeatens.
While Princeton has garnered national media attention, national rankings (23), and national television appearances (a loss to UNLV), Tigers' assistant coach Bill Carmody says the Tigers are not overlooking Harvard.
"Because of Harvard's wins on the road, everyone has to be shooting for them," Carmody said. "It is going to take a lot for someone to catch them."
But while everyone is shooting for the Crimson, Harvard will be looking to repeat its feat of two years ago, when the Crimson knocked off Princeton at Jadwin Gym, 63-57.
"We have a very small margin of error," Harvard Coach Peter Roby is fond of saying of this year's squad.
That theory will be put to the test against the Tigers and Princeton Head Coach Pete Carril's successful and frustrating brand of basketball. Frustrating, that is, for the Crimson, whose patience will be tested by Princeton's slow-down game.
The returning Ivy League Player of the Year, center Kit Mueller, headlines the Tigers' squad, pouring in almost 13 points per game, while snagging 5 rebounds.
When Mueller is smothered on the inside, Princeton has a talented pool of shooters who can drain outside shots. Returning starter Sean Jackson and forward Chris Marquardt are shooting a combined 50 percent from three-point land.
George Leftwich returns to orchestrate the offense from his point guard position. Freshman Chris Mooney and junior Matt Eastwick round out Carril's starting unit.