Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No. 5 Brown Bears

The frontcourt anchor is gone, but the youth movement has folks in Providence very excited.

Matt Mullery spent the past two years as Brown's go-to big man and one of the league's best interior scorers. Now, the Bears must move forward, and they appear well equipped to do so. With nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster, most of whom will see either time in the rotation or starting lineup, Brown knows it's only at the start of a three-year window for a run at the title.

For the Bears to be competitive this season, though, they must get stronger defensively. Brown finished outside the top 200 in three of the four defensive factors - 203rd in defensive rebounding percentage, 226th in effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and 347th (dead last nationally) in turnover rate. The Bears' offensive talent means very little, if it can't keep opponents from outscoring them on most nights.

Last Season: 11-20, 5-9 Ivy
Pomeroy Ratings: .2040 Win Pct (269th), 98.5 Offense (211th), 110.9 Defense (325th)
Key Losses: F Matt Mullery, G Steve Gruber

Player Outlook:

With Mullery gone, swingman Peter Sullivan seems the most likely option to take on some of the departed big man's possession load. Sullivan came alive in Ivy play last year, showing a knack for getting to the line and a decent shooting touch. He also kept turnovers to a minimum (16.7% TO rate) despite having an already above-average usage rate.

Despite not getting transfer shooting guard Stephen Albrecht cleared for this season, the Bears return an All-Ivy caliber shooter in Garrett Leffelman, whose 119.7 offensive rating last year was second best in the Ivies behind Cornell's Geoff Reeves. Leffelman isn't a possessions eater (15.1% usage rate) but is deadly when left open, shooting 46% from three last year. Starting point guard Adrian Williams struggled last year, after a stellar sophomore campaign, and if he can't regain some semblance of offensive efficiency, he could lose even more minutes to Matt Sullivan or highly touted freshman Hakeem Harris.

Brown may have a wealth of backcourt options, but the Bears are much thinner in the post. Andrew McCarthy had an outstanding campaign on both ends of the floor and could become a real force if he can figure out how to draw more fouls. Beyond McCarthy, things are a little less clear. Tucker Halpern is a face-up four who likes to patrol the perimeter and is an excellent passer, but when he can't connect from three (shot 28% from long range last year), he's only an average offensive player, while also being a defensive liability. Senior Chris Taylor hasn't shown the ability to contribute meaningfully on either end of the floor meaning that rookie sophomore Tyler Ponticelli and freshman Dockery Walker will be relied upon to help out in the frontcourt rotation.

Team Outlook:

Expected Record: 14-14, 6-8 Ivy (5th)
Expected Efficiency Stats: .3422 Win Pct, 99.4 Offense, 106.7 Defense

The Bears didn't go the challenging route non-conference, though they will play 8-of-13 Division I games on the road. Of its five Division I home games, Brown should be the favorite in all but one (vs. Quinnipiac). Throw in a bunch of benign road dates (only visits to URI and Providence are particularly daunting), and it's easy to see how the Bears are expected to go above .500 in the non-conference slate.

Brown was the only Ivy team not named Cornell to take down Princeton next year, so the Bears will be a dangerous out for the league's top four. Without a consistent defensive effort, however, Brown will only be as successful as opposing offenses are unlucky, which will likely leave them on the outside looking in of the Ivy League title chase. The Bears might wind up with eight league losses, but if they do, it won't be because they went 0-8 against the Ivy's upper division.

1 comment:

  1. Brown was also among D-I's worst half-dozen teams in offensive rebounding efficiency. This cost them dearly. Like their lackluster performance in the turnover department (lack of steals), this can be cured with good coaching.

    Let's go, Bears!