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The theme of this weekend in Ivy League men's basketball is, "It's time to find new enemies, new foes to conquer."
After playing--and splitting--home-and-home series against each other, the league's traveling partners are couples once again for the start of the five-week Friday-Saturday night odyssey for the Ivy flag.
And for the first-place Harvard Crimson, the perfect way to start that odyssey is at home--throw a log in the fireplace, thank you--at Briggs Cage, which welcomes Yale tonight and Brown tomorrow night (both 7:30 p.m. tipoff). The Elis (11-5 overall, 2-2 Ivy) and Bruins (5-11, 2-2) recently split a home-and-home series, with each team claiming a two-point victory on its home court.
The Crimson (7-8, 3-1) enters this weekend fresh off its biggest win--a 71-63 road victory over Dartmouth--since its upset of Princeton on the road last year. Forwards Ralph James and Ron Mitchell have done most of the damage so far, leading the league in scoring with 21 and 19 points per game respectively. James tallied 23 points, including 5-for-5 from threepoint range, in Harvard's win Tuesday night. Mitchell is second in the league with 10.3 rebounds per game.
But Yale Coach Dick Kuchen, whose team opened its Ivy season with a 39-37 upset of Princeton, is wary of the Crimson's depth. While Kuchen can dip with confidence only two-deep into his bench, Harvard Coach Peter Roby has the luxury of being able to play a full second squad without much dropoff in quality.
"They have depth, as much depth as anybody in the league," Kuchen said. "That does give a team a big advantage some times. We don't have a lot of depth. We're still one player away from the level of competition which we have to reach to compete for the title."
Although Yale's starting five is extremely young, it is experienced and talented enough to play with the best in the league. On a team loaded with athletic talent, the leading scorer is ironically the least athletic of the bunch, sophomore guard Ed Petersen, last year's Ivy Rookie of the Year. Petersen is averaging 13.8 points per game, including 26 three-pointers.
But it is swingman Dean Campbell who has sparked the Elis recently. Starting at both forward and guard positions, the junior has led the team in scoring in five of its last six games, pouring in 32 points in the last two contests alone.
"Dean has been a solid player all year long," Kuchen said. "He is capable of doing a lot of things. He can score, grab the rebounds, get assists and he's athletic, kind of like James."
Yale's main strength is its defense, which has allowed opponents to score only 60 points per game and shoot under 40 percent from the field. The Elis are second in the league defensively behind Princeton and have four players--Campbell and front-line starters Casey Cammann, Travis McCready and Stu Davies--who are averaging more than five rebounds per game.
"Yale is determined to stop people defensively," said Harvard Co-Captain Fred Schernecker, whose clutch three-pointers have given Harvard opponents fits all season long. "We're going to run them out of that, though."
There's a new force in Brown--6-foot, 7-inch, 250-pound Carlos Williams, who has captured Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors twice this season. Williams tallied 15 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in Brown's 62-60 upset over Yale last Saturday. His 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and 10 rebounds staked the Bruins to a 33-27 halftime lead in that game. The freshman center leads the league in rebounding and is shooting 58 percent from the field this season.
"Centers have hurt us more than anybody else this year," Schernecker said. "We [post players] have to concern ourselves with moving our feet and denying the ball rather than letting the ball in and then playing defense."
Senior forward Arthur Jackson has been a consistent force up front, averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while sophomores Rick Lloyd, Chuck Savage and Josh Drezner make up one of the league's most improved backcourts.
In a 80-70 win over the Crimson last year, the Bruins managed to take Mitchell out of the offense, forcing the Crimson into poor shot selection.
"People have to worry about what we're going to do now," Schernecker said. "Now, people have to change the way they play as opposed to the other way around." Campbell's Soup
F-Stu Davies (So, 6-7)
F-Travis McCready (Jr, 6-6)
C-Casey Cammann (So, 6-8)
G-Ed Petersen (So, 6-0)
G-Dean Campbell (Jr, 6-4)
Petersen, 3.5 Noble Savage
F-Arthur Jackson (Sr, 6-5)
F-Kirk Lowry (So, 6-8)
C-Carlos Williams (Fr, 6-7)
G-Rick Lloyd (So, 6-1)
G-Chuck Savage (So, 6-1)
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